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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.



Adric Returns

What:The Fifth Doctor Box Set (Miscellaneous audio)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Monday 5 June 2017
Rating:   8

The Fifth Doctor Box set contains two adventures featuring Adric, Nyssa, and Tegan. This set includes the first performances of Matthew Waterhouse as Adric in a dramatic format since 1983. Big Finish has gone all out to get the feel of Doctor Who 1981 in the stories, production, and soundtrack music. Indeed, this soundtrack music will leave you swearing that Peter Howell had returned. The stories are provided by Big Finish regular writers Jonathan Morris and John Dorney. Morris is up first with "Psychodrome," a kind of combination of Eric Saward and Christopher H. Bidmead. The Bidmead influence comes in the way the story plays with reality, while the Saward influence comes with the way characters are violently dispatched one by one. The story itself involves the TARDIS crew landing in a strange, large structure that gradually develops people and different realms, something like a video game. The story has a nice psychological twist to it. Dorney's "Iterations of I" is equally a concept piece, a haunted house tale where the ghost turns out to be a living number. The ending is a bit "by the numbers" [no pun intended, well almost] for a Doctor Who ending, so disappoints there. Both stories have plenty of snappy dialogue, though "Iterations" has some long spells of the Doctor delivering exposition. Sarah Sutton and Janet Fielding are fully comfortable in the audio drama environment. Matthew Waterhouse is a little less so, trying a bit too hard to sound young, which gets in the way of some of the emotional delivery of the lines. Nevertheless, the stories work well in exploring some of interactions between characters that were not explored in the TV series. This is a very entertaining pair of stories well worth getting.



Endgame

What:Endgame (BBC 8th Doctor book)
By:Austin Samuel Archer, Ottumwa, United States
Date:Thursday 1 June 2017
Rating:   6

Endgame is a fantastic book. It keeps your interest and keeps you guessing the howl time. The only down side is the large number of: Spelling, Grammatical, and use of the wrong name/spelling. In 243 pages there are over 50 errors.



Interesting Time Paradox Plot

What:The Paradox Planet (Fourth Doctor Audio Adventure)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Wednesday 31 May 2017
Rating:   8

"The Paradox Planet" is the first half of a story finished in the next "episode." It's a cracker of a setup story. The basic idea is of a war between worlds, but rather than different worlds, it is the same world in different time periods. The warriors of the future, when the planet is a burnt-out wasteland from over-use of fossil fuels and lack of environmental care, travel 1000 years into the past to the era they believe caused all their environmental catastrophe. Descendants at war with their ancestors is a superb idea. Mistrust, blame, and misunderstanding abound, with plenty of people doing the wrong things for the right reasons. The story provides a good pretext for splitting The Doctor and Romana, giving her quite a bit to do on her own. Romana comes across very strong here, a bit arrogant and very clever. Jonathan Morris has also created a very plausible role for K-9. There are a few clichés and short-cuts that mar the story a little, but overall this is a quite enjoyable time romp with a message that never becomes overbearing at the expense of the story.



Loving the alien

What:Illegal Alien (BBC Past Doctor book)
By:Trevor Smith, Nottingham, United Kingdom
Date:Tuesday 30 May 2017
Rating:   8

Despite some pretty poorly written characters and a slow start, this is a pretty good, enjoyable book. The seventh Doctor and Ace are well written. Throw in nazis, cybermen and Second World War Britain and you have a fun read.



Superb 80s reelings

What:The Silent Scream (Fourth Doctor Audio Adventure)
By:Matthew David Rabjohns, Bridgend, United Kingdom
Date:Tuesday 30 May 2017
Rating:   10

What I love about Big Finish is they always get the tone of a season right when they place new stories within it.

The Silent Scream truly feels like a season 18 story indeed. Tom Baker is as ever reliably mesmerising as the Doctor. I love how he stops the deviant freak in this excellently produced story. Lalla Ward is always brilliant as the more aloof Romana and its great to see and hear that she is not beyond falling into traps herself. Many times in her seasons she was so up herself at times, but lovably so.

Pamela Salem also makes a great return to the Doctor Who world proper, she's amazing in Counter Measures and its always a pleasure to hear from her whenever she appears in the show, be it in TV or the radio. Big Finish always know how to pick a cast.

This really does feel like authentic 1920's Hollywood. The air of American oozes from the script which is faultless and highly engaging. This is probably my favourite story by James Goss so far. He's always an intelligent and original writer and he always somehow weaves some great light touches of humour to an otherwise very dark and grim story.

The last season of Tom's on TV seems to be overlooked and labelled weak although I do not agree. It was packed full of highly imaginative yarns with an increasing reliability on real science and not just fantasy. And the Silent Scream is the perfect mix of action, humour, horror and very good pacing so one is hooked all the way through.

So far season six of the Fourth Doctor adventures continues Tom's epic return to the role of the amazing and brilliant Fourth Doctor! And its wonderful that K9 too is used well and not just busted or blown up like season eighteen and seventeen seemed to do quite a lot with him. He is a great character and John Leeson is always superb as the robot dog.. It is little wonder he is so fondly remembered.

The Silent Scream comes very highly recommened. Its a great slice of "period history with sci fi twist" indeed. I wasn't disappointed by this story.



Nostalgic, But Too Simple

What:The Early Adventures: The Sontarans (Miscellaneous audio)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Wednesday 24 May 2017
Rating:   6

Simon Guerrier has written a story in the tradition of the Doctor 1 series in a way, but with bigger effects. Slotted between episodes 7 & 8 of The Daleks' Masterplan, this story finds Doctor 1, Steven, and Sara arriving on a curious asteroid a few decades before Sara's time, but close enough for cultural reference. They soon find themselves attached to a military squad on a suicide mission to take out a cannon operated by The Sontarans. The Doctor knows nothing about Sontarans, but Steven knows about them in a general way and Sara knows about the success of this particular mission. The story itself is made up mostly of battle sequences, running away, getting captured, getting tortured, and inspiring the local populace to rise up against the Sontaran occupation. Peter Purves does a pretty good Doctor 1 imitation. The story is just fairly basic and not terribly inspiring.



A superb Sontaran Story

What:The Eternal Battle (Fourth Doctor Audio Adventure)
By:Matthew David Rabjohns, Bridgend, United Kingdom
Date:Monday 22 May 2017
Rating:   10

This is a very good story indeed. Mark and Cavan have woven a tale with some very good and forceful moral food for thought. And everyone's favourite potato heads are back and mean as ever. But here is yet another Big Finish story that explores new angles with the inhabitants of Sontar. The sound design and directing in this story are first class and really give this war story the bite and gravitas it truly deserves.

Tom Baker is again on sterling form as the Doctor, and gets to be his moral best when trying to save the day yet again from a mad computer. In fact this story actually does make you feel more than just loathing for the war clones for once. As even they are faced with a situation that no sontaran would call an honour to face. Its really really strong writing and Dan Starkey does his magic again as the Sontaran leader. He is such a great sontaran, and able to make these sontarans the classic warrior clones and not just the lovable stupid wally Strax from the new series!

Lalla Ward again is effortlessly brilliant as Romana too. And John Leeson again doesn't get given the worst of the story as he isn't damaged like season eighteen TV stories did with him far too often. Its great to hear the season eighteen team back and appearing in such great new stories.

Nick Briggs is to be commended as ever too for his amazing direction, he always knows how to get the best from all the actors involved. And its great yet again to hear Jane Slavin again in a story. I am so looking forward to when she becomes the Fourth Doctor's companion in 2019!

The Eternal Battle is in turns scary, bleak and overall extremely satisfying as a war story with a very good moral undertone that doesn't come over as too over the top but will make you stop and think at the total uselessness of war and its effects on people. Cavan and Mark deserve top points for this very very strong Doctor Who adventure. Thanks for writing this guys, its a winner!



Another Jago and Litefoot hit!!!!!!!!!!!

What:The Beast of Kravenos (Fourth Doctor Audio Adventure)
By:Matthew David Rabjohns, Bridgend, United Kingdom
Date:Monday 22 May 2017
Rating:   10

Justin Richards may not be the worlds greatest writer in the universe, but what he does is always solid and reliably enjoyable, and The Beast of Kravenos is no exception at all.

I was waiting for the day we'd get stories set in Tom's final season from Big Finish and here at last is the beginning of a whole series of stories set in that era of season eighteen brilliant series! To hear the Peter Howell arrangement with Tom again is magic for a die hard Whovian like me.

Tom is excellent yet again in this story, and he gets to be at turns delightfully playful and a tiny bit devious so much as to annoy Romana a little bit, who is as ever, perfectly played by Lalla Ward who never seems to age in the slightest. And its great to have K9 in a story without him being disabled for once.

But the real selling point for the Beast of Kravenos is yet again the wonderful return of those gentlemen Victoriana Jago and Litefoot. Trevor Baxter and Chris Benjamin are always and ever scene stealers as the brilliant characters created by the late great Robert Holmes. They dominate the scenes they are in and make every single story sparkle. Its hard to believe that both men are still so keen about characters created over fourty years ago now. But its wonderful and magical and The Beast of Kravenos is all the stronger for it.

This is a wonderful beginning to the sixth run of Tom Baker fourth Doctor adventures, and it only gets better and better from here on in too. This is a real love letter to the late eighties and a thorough pleasure from beginning to end. There is liberal and charming humour and some great scares too. Ed Stoppard too impresses as the misguided villain of the piece.

There is nothing not to love about the Beast of Kravenos. Its pure classic eighties Who at its best!



Poor animation

What:Underworld (BBC classic series DVD)
By:Jared Harr, St. Marys, United States
Date:Saturday 20 May 2017
Rating:   1

The story itself is rubbish, and they rely on the blue screen too much. It's 90 minutes of walking around poorly computer animated caves. Absolute rubbish, that one is.



May Fovorite Classic!

What:The Tomb of the Cybermen (BBC classic series DVD)
By:Jared Harr, St. Marys, United States
Date:Saturday 20 May 2017
Rating:   10

Hands down, my favorite classic episode! Never a dull moment, never a dull character, and no dull story. The story was great, the effects were awesome. The characters were so well rounded. Action scenes were very good, and the ending made it all the more better! Classic Troughton, classic episode!



Not good

What:Series 9: Part 2 (BBC new series DVD/Blu-ray)
By:Jared Harr, St. Marys, United States
Date:Tuesday 16 May 2017
Rating:   3

The only really good episode is "Heaven Sent", and even though that episode was immensely awesome it wasn't enough to pull it higher in my vote.



Some good ones...

What:The Complete Eighth Series (BBC new series DVD/Blu-ray)
By:Jared Harr, St. Marys, United States
Date:Tuesday 16 May 2017
Rating:   5

There were some good episodes "Flatline", "Mummy on the Orient Express", but then again the bad episodes kind of took over this series "The Caretaker", "Kill the Moon", "Black Water".



Pretty Good

What:The Complete Seventh Series (BBC new series DVD/Blu-ray)
By:Jared Harr, St. Marys, United States
Date:Tuesday 16 May 2017
Rating:   7

The episodes in here don't get enough credit as they deserve. The Rings Akhaten was awesome, the snowmen were brilliant! The Angels take manhatten was so heart wrenching. It was an interesting watch



One of the Best

What:The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Complete First Series (Miscellaneous DVD/Blu-ray)
By:Jared Harr, St. Marys, United States
Date:Tuesday 16 May 2017
Rating:   9

This first season started the Sarah Jane Series, and set it up beautifully! The episodes are great and have that feel of Doctor Who!



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