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The Return of 1972

What:The Third Doctor Adventures: Volume 1 (Miscellaneous audio)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Wednesday 18 October 2017
Rating:   9

This excellent bit of nostalgia gets nearly everything right. We get two stories very much in the manner of 1972 Doctor Who that also do not simply retread plots from that era. "Prisoners of the Lake" is an Earth-bound story following the "Quatermass and the Pit" style, with the discovery of an alien artifact leading to potential Earth annihilation. This time, the artifact is deep under a lake. There are some interesting ideas, such as a stone-based technology run by magnetism, an extension of the idea of ferro-magnetic tape. The story includes a typical cast of characters - corrupt project director, dedicated scientists, aggressive aliens, and so on. "The Havoc of Empires" is a space-bound story, also typical of 1972-3 stories such as the "Peladon" adventures and "The Mutants." The Doctor, Jo, and Mike Yates arrive via TARDIS on a space station that is the site of delicate interplanetary negotiations. Someone, though, does not want this plan to succeed. Jo gets an especially strong role here when she takes command by pretending to be the lead security investigator. She gets to take positive action without always consulting The Doctor.

The standout element of this collection has to be Tim Treloar's impersonation of Jon Pertwee's Doctor. At times, it is so exactly right that you would swear it really was Pertwee saying those lines. Treloar sounds more like Pertwee than Katy Manning and Richard Franklin sound like their younger selves. The one drawback for me is that Big Finish still wants to run past Doctor stories with narration. I still find the narration, even though this set does not have much of it, gets in the way. Despite that, these stories are superb testaments to the quality of early 70s Doctor Who.



Very creative wih great voice acting

What:Sword of Orion (New Audio Adventure)
By:Jared Harr, St. Marys, United States
Date:Monday 16 October 2017
Rating:   9

This was a very creative twist on the show as it introduced androids in a modern styled fight for rights. With the episode also containing Cybermen at one of their most deadly. The cybermen were written so well in this story that it feels like Kit Pedler wrote it! Plus this story is not without an incredible plot twist. I was stunned by the end!



Just Like the Old Days

What:The Early Adventures: The Black Hole (Miscellaneous audio)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Friday 6 October 2017
Rating:   7

The Early Adventures series is kind of halfway between Companion Chronicles and New Adventures. They have a narrator to provide links and description, but for all practical purposes are full-cast dramas. Some may like the narrative links. I think they get in the way. This time around, David Warner provides the narrative without playing a part in the drama. This allows Frazer Hines a chance to concentrate on playing Jamie and the Doctor. This time Victoria is along. Deborah Watling does her best to pitch the voice higher, but still can't get that girl sound she had in 1967. The story itself is written as if it were produced for TV at the time. Computers in space, for instance, are large metal boxes that use tape. The story itself involves our travellers accidentally arriving in a space station, where strange things are happening with time. It turns out that somebody is creating an artificial black hole, and The Doctor suspects "his people" are involved. Simon Guerrier has a tricky brief here, trying to fit the story to 1967 while also slotting it into Who sequence. This means that somehow all the many references to Time Lords and so on will have to be erased. The science of black holes is seriously wrong in this story. There is some playing around with time. It's entertaining, but flawed in key areas.



Cold War Spies

What:1963: The Assassination Games (New Audio Adventure)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Saturday 30 September 2017
Rating:   7

1963: The Assassination Game picks up one week after the events in Remembrance of the Daleks, with Group Captain Gilmore desperately seeking backing for his new project: Counter-Measures, a sort of UK precursor to UNIT. Sir Toby Kinsella has secured a job for Gilmore as general lookout for John Rutherford, MP, during the scheduled launch of a new missile system called Starfire. Of course, nothing is quite what it seems, especially when certain politicians get assassinated by members of a supposedly non-violent anti-nuclear protest group. Rachel Jensen and Allison Williams get coerced into investigating certain people associated with Starfire. The Doctor and Ace are working under cover, already on the job it seems. What is the real purpose of Starfire?

This story is very much in the 1988 manner of Doctor Who. It's purpose is to bring the listener nostalgia both for Remembrance of the Daleks and for the original Doctor Who. At the same time, it works as the setup story for the already running Counter-Measures series (that's time travel for you). The story is very much in the Cold War spy manner, a bit of Le Carre, a bit of Man from UNCLE, and a bit of James Bond, even perhaps a bit of Captain Scarlet. It's decidedly entertaining, even if it does not break any new ground either in Doctor Who or the spy genre.



A superb evocation of Old Historicals...

What:The Early Adventures: The Night Witches (Miscellaneous audio)
By:Matthew David Rabjohns, Bridgend, United Kingdom
Date:Saturday 30 September 2017
Rating:   10


As a massive fan of the Early Adventures of Big Finish, I am always particularly looking forward to the plainly historical adventures. I am a massive fan of them and they have always been brilliant. And then along comes the Night Witches and to me this was an absolute winner of a tale. The first Doctor Who script for Big Finish by newcomer Roland Moore is absolutely superb.

In this story, as with all other historicals, the focus is wisely more on character. And here the heart of the Russian Night Witches unit is brought to life brilliantly by unusually an entirely female cast, with only the reliable Frazer Hines and Elliot Chapman as Ben along for the ride! And every single actress in this story is amazing.

Firstly Anneke Wills truly gets to shine with a superb part given to her, more in the helpful vein of her more prominent role in the Highlanders on TV than say the Underwater Menace where she is a little dumbed down and even silly. But not so here. Here Polly is the centrepiece of the whole story, as she is the doppleganger of one of the Night Witches.

Wanda Opolinska is amazing as Nadia the leader of the Night Witches, and she turns out to be quite calculating and devious. Willing to use Polly to her own ends in an attempt to foil the German Panzer advance at Stalingrad in 1942. Here the sound design has to be praised, cause this really feels like youre in a snowbound wilderness with a lonely ill equipped team of women fighting to stave off the Germans with resources dwindling. Needless to say there is a mass of superb emotion woven throughout this story too.

Scenes where Polly and Ben are thinking the Doctor and Jamie are dead are particularly moving, as the pair wonder what they will do to survive if they cant find or fly the TARDIS properly. This story really does have some great moments also between Kristina Buikate’s Lilya, and you can almost feel the two of them getting quite close at one point, and that maybe Ben’s eye has been taken by someone else other than his duchess for once.

The finale is cranked up to an explosive amount of brilliance. The story is not once plodding or stilted, the characters are all extremely convincing and superbly performed by all involved. I hope that we are to get more second doctor historical audio adventures. If they even only half as good as the Night Witches, then they will be superb indeed.
The Night Witches is a really satisfying and brilliantly gritty and endearing war story for the TARDIS team!
For people who really love the historicals, then I cant recommend this story enough. Its incredibly enjoyable and a great start to the second series of Second Doctor early adventures indeed!



Twisted Time Travelling

What:Festival of Death (BBC Past Doctor book)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Wednesday 20 September 2017
Rating:   8

"Festival of Death" could have been one of the best Doctor Who novels. However, Morris trips himself up by introducing some unnecessary components that are obviously unnecessary. First, the good. This is another "time turning round itself" story from the author of the CD audio drama "Flip Flop," which is equally convoluted in regard to characters running past each other at different points in their personal histories but at the same point in general history. For the first half of the book, the story is an example of the science-fiction "problem" story. This is the kind of story in which a disaster caused by a technical problem requires fixing in a desperate hurry. In this case, the problem involves two components. One is the demolition of several space ships, the result of a sudden collapse of a hyperspace tunnel. About 200 years in the future, the second problem emerges. The ships have now become a tourist attraction and the main feature of this is a new entertainment called The Beautiful Death, in which participants actually get to experience death for a brief, controlled period of time. Something has gone wrong, however, and in the latest and biggest of these events the dead tourists return as killer zombies. What is the connection between these two events separated by two centuries? It is an intriguing problem. Morris introduces the reader to it by having The Doctor, Romana, and K9 arrive after they have already solved this problem. So, they have to work out how they did it, and then go back in time to do it and thus prevent a catastrophic time quake. It's a clever set of problems. Morris handles it extremely well, so that all the various plot points past and present work out and everything falls into place. Some other good elements are the way that Morris handles The Doctor-Romana relationship, keeping it in line with 1979 and deepening just a little in the ways that a novel allows. Morris does not overdo Doctor 4's quirkiness, the great pitfall of most writers who try to write for him. There is still a joke bit (typical of 1979) in which The Doctor is apparently completely unaware of how the TARDIS works and is studying for a time travel exam with Romana as his tutor. It does not work for me, because The Doctor is obviously capable of controlling the TARDIS when he wants, and so the whole thing seems a throw-away bit of humor (also typical of 1979). Still, it does fit with the era Morris emulates.

Things go wrong, though, with the entry of two unnecessary baddies. One is the Arachnopods, robotic spider warriors who want only "eats." They seem to be there mainly as a plot complication to keep the story moving along. They are easily dealt with, and both their presence and their demise contribute nothing of note to the plot as a whole. They could be easily removed and the story would not suffer in the slightest. Another is The Repulsion. We know we are in for a needless and boring baddie when we get a powerful being from another dimension with an abstract name that has "The" in front of it. These are almost universally dull as villains go. The Repulsion has no personality as such, just a desire to enter our universe and destroy all life. Why? Revenge of a sort? It is never quite clear what motivates The Repulsion. All it is amounts to clichés - I am evil, I will take over your mind, the universe is mine, and all that sort of thing. The story could proceed much better without it. We already have badguy enough in Paddox, the scientist who created The Beautiful Death. He is far more interesting, having a clear and rational motivation, even if it is wholly unethical.

So, count "Festival of Death" as a flawed gem. Had it been left with the fundamental problems, it probably would be a 9 or even a 10 out of 10 in my estimation. The addition of too many badguys drags it down.



Too Much Redux

What:Lucie Miller (Eighth Doctor Audio Adventure)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Wednesday 20 September 2017
Rating:   7

Basically, "Lucie Miller" is two things. First, it is the beginning of the end for Lucie Miller. Briggs takes her apart piece by piece - her legs, her eyes, her faith in The Doctor, all are getting torn apart. Second, "Lucie Miller" is in essence a re-write of "The Dalek Invasion of Earth," and Briggs brings it out in the open repeatedly, so no one can complain. It is not very much of a re-write in the broad scheme. Briggs is also tying up some loose ends of the whole "Lucie Miller" sequence by bringing in the returning characters, presumably to kill off most of them. So, Susan and Alex are back, as are The Meddling Monk and Tamsin. Briggs tires some innovation by having Lucie narrate much of the action in a taped message to The Doctor, and by having The Doctor out of the story for all but the last five or so minutes. Basically, the idea is "what happens if The Doctor arrives too late"? This sets us up for the next, and final, episode, wherein, one presumes, the narrative lines of the continuing characters will be closed, permanently.



Light Production

What:Trial of the Valeyard (Miscellaneous audio)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Tuesday 19 September 2017
Rating:   7

The Trial of the Valeyard returns us to the scene of Trial of a Timelord, with the space station court, the Inquisitor, the Valeyard, and the Doctor. This time, we find The Valeyard on trial. The story focuses on the question of who, or what, the Valeyard is. Sadly, we don't get much of an answer because the story the Valeyard weaves cannot be trusted. The basics of the trial are the same as before - the trial is set so that the Time Lords can hide something they have done and blame it on someone else. The court is not allowed to know even the specific crimes the Valeyard is on trial for. The drama is a three-way, with just the three principal characters (plus one near the end) having all the say. This very much limits the dramatic effect of the science-fiction aspects of the story. Additionally, Gallifreyan law is once again shown to be nonsensical, and the trial proceeds as a set of pompous speeches rather than as an inquiry into truth. In the end, this is a bit too much of a revisit to Trial of a Time Lord without adding much that the listener didn't already know.



Not Much New Here

What:Dark Eyes 3 (Miscellaneous audio)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Saturday 16 September 2017
Rating:   7

Dark Eyes 3 picks up a bit after the end of Dark Eyes 2. In that one, the Master had nabbed Molly O'Sullivan, though we did not know why. Here, we find out that he is planning to use her retrogenitor particles to infect the Eminence and take over all of humanity so that he can create his own destructive armada obedient only to him. We begin with "The Death of Hope." Narvin from the Gallifrey series steps in as CIA director to turn The Doctor into an agent so the CIA can undo the error of using The Master to stop The Eminence. To convince The Doctor, Narvin uses the Matrix to show The Doctor one of The Master's experiments in using the remainder of a destroyed human colony as a petrie dish to cultivate retrogenitor particles. Convinced, The Doctor then collects Liv and we head off to another colony for The Reviled. Here, human colonists who abused the local intelligent insect life have the tables turned. Now the humans are the prisoners, just waiting for The Master to use them. The Doctor tries to save everyone. Failures occur. The Doctor, now angry as a swarm of killer bees decides that he is going to change history and prevent The Eminence from ever happening. In Masterplan, The Doctor tries this and fails. The Doctor and The Master get locked together in a doomed spaceship. They trade insults. The Master escapes with an idea for a new plan to accomplish his goals. In Rule of the Eminence, it seems that The Master has won. A desperate Doctor desperately tries to undermine him.

The whole set has a greater coherence than Dark Eyes 2. There are still some problems with it. First, I must say it again that The Eminence is one of the most boring villains devised for Doctor Who. This is why The Master must be here. If it were just The Doctor vs. The Eminence, there would not be much story. Alex Macqueen is a great Master. He has a kind of campy effervescence that makes people think "I really dislike this guy, but I can't say why." Paul McGann is great as usual. Nicola Walker is outstanding, a great study in how a little goes a long way in acting. This really comes through in Masterplan, where we get the argument between The Doctor and The Master that seems to come down to two children arguing on the playground. There is much psychologizing. Meanwhile, Dr. Sally Armstrong is revealed as also childish, constantly seeking approval. Liv comes across as the adult, a person who has reconciled herself to the facts of the universe and that those facts are not always nice. The Rule of Eminence should get demerits for plagiarizing, with a heavy combination of the Master's plot for dominating humanity in both Last of the Timelords and The End of Time. The Doctor's working behind the scenes is also reminiscent of The End of Time. In the whole, for reasons we find out in the bonus disc, Molly O'Sullivan does not get much to do, and we get her sent off with a "you can never see her again" ending that's just a bit like Donna's ending, though Molly gets to keep her memories.

So, some good acting all around, good sound and production. The story is a little flat and has that deja vu just a little too often.



Things Go Bang

What:The War Doctor: Casualties of War (Miscellaneous audio)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Wednesday 6 September 2017
Rating:   8

The final set in the War Doctor series takes the ideas for the series to about as far as they can go. The Time War really is a limited domain as far as the kinds of stories that could be told. In this last set, we get the return of an old friend and the Doctor who doesn't want to be the Doctor almost gets what he wants. Things start where they left off with set 3 in "Pretty Lies." The Doctor and Ollistra are now stranded fugitives hunted by the Daleks. The title refers to the war correspondent, which is logical to bring in if one is telling war stories. This is also the desperate last stand of the small town against the massively armed invaders story. Many things go bang and many lies are told. "The Lady of Obsidian" turns out to be Leela, but a Leela who is a casualty of the Time War, who is both dead and alive thanks to a malfunctioning time weapon, and so has all the memories of all her possible lives, leaving her without any way to determine which are true. She has now become leader of rebel band fighting the Daleks, but the Time War has created a new enemy, those who are merely possible lives, escaping into this universe to take out their vengeance on the living. Many things go bang. In "The Enigma Dimension," the Doctor, Ollistra, and Leela return to Gallifrey. The Daleks perfect a weapon that rewrites history, replacing the Time Lords with Daleks. Is the Time War truly over? Have the Daleks actually won? Fewer things go bang.

The series works hard on developing the Doctor - Ollistra relationship, which John Hurt and Jacqueline Pearce play to the utmost. They make a great double-act. Louise Jameson is excellent at bringing out Leela's torment.

There are some problems in the storytelling. For instance, the big showdown between The Doctor and the Dalek Time Strategist, which has been building for three series, doesn't really happen. It's a bit of an anticlimax. There is a problem with conveying just how otherworldly the otherworldly dimension is. It really isn't all that otherworldly. Given the types of stories on offer, there is a certain predictability.

Nevertheless, we have some great acting, some truly intriguing ideas, and some rounding off of the Time War saga.



Amazing

What:Doctor Who and the Pescatons (BBC classic series audio)
By:Erlend Voaden, Shipston Upon Stour, United Kingdom
Date:Saturday 26 August 2017
Rating:   10

Such a great range to listen too. Good price, good quality recordings and brilliant voioce acting!



Definitely Novelized

What:Shada (Miscellaneous book)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Sunday 20 August 2017
Rating:   8

Gareth Roberts really loves the Williams/Adams period of Doctor Who, perhaps more than just about anyone on the planet. He tries very, very hard to attain the same flavor of that period in his novelization of the unproduced (in its originally intended form) season-ending epic from Douglas Adams. The 1992 VHS fix-up of Shada and the Big Finish cd audio substituting Paul McGann for Tom Baker both stay very faithful to the original shooting script. This was problematic because, as Roberts points out in his afterword, Adams had rushed the script after holding out in a lost battle for a different story he had in mind, and Adams was quite dissatisfied with the script he turned over to be filmed. With access to production notes and a shooting script incorporating last-minute changes to Shada, Roberts set out to write the story as he thought Adams might have liked it to go. This meant changing several scenes, beefing up the character of Clare Keightly, adding a few scenes of his own, and straightening out some of the script logic. The resulting novel is more satisfactory than a straight Terrance Dicks' style novelization of the script would have been, and probably more satisfactory than a finished episode of Shada would have been. Because Roberts is so in love with this period of Doctor Who, the dialogue of the novel would easily have fit the episode. There are no lines where the reader would think, "Hey, Doctor 4 would never say that." He softens Romana's character a little, making her just a little more fond of The Doctor than what we saw on TV. He throws in numerous in-jokes and references for fans, changes the character of Skagra's ship quite extensively, but keeps the sensation that everyone barring the villain responds to stress with light sarcasm. Indeed, very often in the Williams/Adams era what made the villain a villain was his/her total lack of a sense of humor more than that character's evil intentions. Roberts has kept this and worked it hard, constantly reminding the reader of how humorless and unaware of his own ridiculousness Skagra is.

For all the virtues of Roberts' version, the same sources of the virtues are the sources of the flaws. The scenes are often played too jokey, and some scenes are there purely to deliver the joke after a long delay. If the audience is not meant to take the villain seriously, then it becomes very hard to believe that The Doctor and Romana are taking him seriously, or to think that he was ever any real threat at all. Thus, many parts of the novel that should be intense and suspenseful lose that aspect in favor of a few punchlines. Those who love the Williams/Adams approach to Doctor Who will undoubtedly love this novel. Others who come to Doctor Who without introduction to that period, or who were always dubious of the value of the Williams/Adams approach will likely find this novel to be an excellent homage to that period, but less-than-satisfactory because of it.



What a wonderful time

What:Series 10: Part 1 (BBC new series DVD/Blu-ray)
By:Matthew David Rabjohns, Bridgend, United Kingdom
Date:Sunday 6 August 2017
Rating:   9

Its so sad that this is Peter Capaldi's swansong season as the Doctor. To me he has totally reinvigorated the show. The stories during his era for me on the whole have been far more enjoyable and far more brilliant. Matt Smith suffered from some of the most uneven writing in the universe during his era, but on the whole Peter has had a far far more memorable time as the Doctor, and story wise a far more successful one. He is incredibly assisted by the wonderful and funny Matt Lucas as the lovable android Nardole and the wonderful Pearl Mackie who made an instant hit with me with new companion Bill Potts. They all come together and make a far far more likeable Doctor/companion brew than some of the other more dubious additions to new Who since it was revived back in 2005. And so what exactly goes on in his finale season: well, for a start his best season of all for a start!

The Pilot opens the new series and feels very fresh and the show feels truly invigorated and Pearl makes a very impressive debut. Her character is at once likeable and not annoying in the slightest, a role she manages to inject with so many aspects from the word go. She's feisty, and the story here in parts is pretty creepy and is one of Steven Moffatt's better stories. She immediately connects with Peter and Matt that already just within this episode they feel like a proper team. Heather is an interesting creation too and the Movellan cameo is welcome indeed from this nostalgic fan.

Smile then has the Doctor and Bill get to really know each other. Most of this episode is just with these two and the mystery of about the best robots to have been on the show for a long time. Frank Cottrell Boyce again does a great episode and this story has its really good scares and despite their slightly comical look somehow the robot interfaces manage to be creepy at the same time The story has very good pacing and is a really really great story and Pearl just gets better and better.

Thin Ice was highly enthralling and the Doctor's treatment of a certain lack wit in this story are absolutely winning. I loved what he does to the racist moron and the story itself too is very diverting and well plotted and both the Doctor and Bill continue to win me over and go so well together. This series so far is just going from strength to strength I really like the design of the huge fish in the Thames too. She looks mean and impressive.

Knock Knock has a dream come true in the form f guest star David Suchet who was an incomparable Hercule Poirot for so many years I always wished he had been in a Doctor Who story and now that he has he did not disappoint whatsoever in fact his character of the Landlord was one of the creepiest in the whole news series so far. And Knock Knock is a great debut script for the show from Mike Bartlett, and his story is a great good old fashioned creep fest that really delivers and kept this fan well and truly hooked indeed.

Oxygen was very bold and about one of the best Doctor Who stories I have seen set in the deep vast well of space. The zombies in this episode look truly disgusting and nasty. And the story itself is electrically charged so that so far the series has had no dull moment whatsoever. And the shock reveal at the climax of the show was totally unexpected and Peter Capaldi plays the Doctor to absolute perfection yet again. This episode is tense, claustrophobic like the best classic series episodes of old.

For me in the whole series ten Extremis is the only boring and convoluted episode of the run. It just suffers from being boring, and aside from the introduction of the weird looking and unsettling Monks it has nothing that attracts me as a story. It also has yet another Missy apparently killed and then come back to life again thing and this is a bit boring and old now as every time she's been in a story she's had this so far. Gladly to say though that the other two parts to the Monk trilogy are far far better written. But Extremis is just very excruciatingly protracted and dull even in just 45 or so minutes. But this is only one little snag in a series that otherwise just gets even stronger after this first part of the Trilogy.....

The first half of the season is amazing overall and Peter shines as my favourite new series Doctor by far....A superb return of the greatest time traveller there has ever been.



Standard Fare

What:I.D. (New Audio Adventure)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Sunday 9 July 2017
Rating:   7

I.D. makes up 3 parts, with a 1-part story, Urgent Calls, added on. I.D. is post-apocalyptic, quasi-cyberpunk story in which various factions go searching through the wreckage of high-tech cities for salvageable technology. It turns out that a scientist of dubious morality left his personality and research on mind alteration in some of the wreckage. This turns up and starts converting robots into killers and then people into killer robots. This has Doctor 6 has agent, which works rather well because he doesn't have to waste his time trying to rescue someone special. The 1 parter is perhaps better. It again involves rogue technology, in this case a manufactured alien virus transmitted by telephone. It is told entirely in the form of telephone calls between one young woman in 1974 and the Doctor, with one exception at the very end. This is good use of the sound medium to tell a story.



Return to Peri

What:The Widow's Assassin (New Audio Adventure)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Monday 19 June 2017
Rating:   7

The Doctor finally gets the urge to check up on Peri now that he has lost Flip. Peri, though, is not quite so thrilled at seeing the Doctor again, and immediately has him locked up. Thus begins a convoluted and comical story of royalty and assassination, bluff and double bluff, and mind control. This is typical Nev Fountain (Omega, The Kingmaker), poking holes in narrative conventions for humorous effect and playing around with one's sense of who is who. The aliens get those annoying sounds from The Daleks' Masterplan. If you like silly voices, you will love The Widow's Assassin. It is quite amusing and works well for the first three parts. The story reaches a logical conclusion by Part Three, but has one more part to go. This one gives us one plot twist too many and extends the story mostly because it needed extending. If it had remained three parts, the score from me would have been higher.



Curse's

What:The Drosten's Curse (Miscellaneous book)
By:Trevor Smith, Nottingham, United Kingdom
Date:Friday 16 June 2017
Rating:   6

I really struggled with this. I've never read any of Kennedy's novels so I didn't know what to expect other than she's a well respected writer. I found her writing style very repetitive and dull. I didn't care for any of the characters and the story is to fantasy for my tastes. On the plus side I thought the description of Tom Baker's Doctor is spot on. She must be a fan as she gets his nuances and personality spot on. Not for me I'm afraid.



Scream out loud

What:The Black Archive #10: Scream of the Shalka (Miscellaneous book)
By:Trevor Smith, Nottingham, United Kingdom
Date:Wednesday 14 June 2017
Rating:   9

While I can't pretend the Shalka is a favourite, I do have a bit of a soft spot for it. It is at the very least, interesting and this really well written, well researched book, really adds to the interest.
This book covers all aspects of Shalka. What it was, what it was meant to be, what it turned out to be and, most interestingly, what it could have been had it not been strangled at birth by RTD's rebirth of the series in 2005.
Most interestingly, it contains 'Blood of the Robots' the complete story that should had been the follow up to Scream.
An excellent book.



Beware Bad Parents

What:The Brood of Erys (New Audio Adventure)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Monday 12 June 2017
Rating:   5

Generally, I like Andrew Smith's dramas. I didn't much like this one, though. The story seems to be a variation on the New Who TV story "The Doctor's Wife." This involves a living planet that can talk, take over minds, cause hallucinations, and so forth. This time, the planet is parent to a bunch of spoiled, uncontolled "children" who just love playing mind tricks for fun and who desperately want to go out on their own because, well, you know, adolescents and all that. The story has all the problems that go with relying on mental superpowers. If something has these superpowers and can create whatever it wants real or imaginary just by thinking about it, then there is no way of stopping it from doing whatever it wants. The writer is stuck with little cheats so that the hero can overcome the monster. And what differentiates mental superpowers from magic? At the end of the story, characters do very stupid things, mostly so that we can have a good parent/ bad parent dichotomy, ended with a long conversation on how to be a good parent. It just does not grab my fancy.



Very Graham Williams Era

What:The English Way of Death (Missing Adventure)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Monday 12 June 2017
Rating:   5

The English Way of Death follows the joking, send-up style of the 1979 Doctor Who to a fault. Basically, a pastiche of 1930s society novels, this one has The Doctor, Romana, and K9 fighting a living, green cloud that smells like rotting vegetables that wants to destroy the Earth just because it can, and goes to enormous lengths to accomplish it, mostly by creating zombies. Joining our crew are a writer of mediocre detective novels looking for "artsy" types to boost her social life, a bunch of time traveller illegal aliens - humans who have decided to settle in 1930s Britain for a quiet life - led by a milquetoast who thinks he's the life of the party, an Italian countess turned master criminal, a self-important scientist, and a stuffy colonial ex-officer. They run through their various character clichés, so that the reader can take none of the characters seriously. Roberts does have a way of writing for Doctor 4 and Romana II that avoids the habit of overly emphasizing their eccentricities. These characters talk and act as they would have in the TV series.



Vintage Science Fiction

What:Voyage to Venus (Jago and Litefoot audio)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Tuesday 6 June 2017
Rating:   7

Doctor 6 takes off on an exciting adventure with Jago and Litefoot, arriving on Venus in the far future and tangling with the haughty Queen of Venus. The whole thing is intended as a throwback to Victorian and Edwardian science fiction, with hints of Wells, Verne, Burroughs, and others thrown in. The Jago and Litefoot team work well with Doctor 6. The story has a bit of an environmental message, but not too heavy that it drags down the action. It's enjoyable, but not mind taxing.



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