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Squeek

What:Rat Trap (New Audio Adventure)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Monday 20 February 2017
Rating:   7

The plot of Rat Trap involves Doctor 5, Nyssa, Tegan, and Turlough heading for a medieval joust and arriving in the right place, wrong time. It's 1983, election day, and deep under a medieval castle are the remains of WWII safety tunnels for the PM. Ah, but something is down there with them. The tunnels were taken over for use in secret experiments to augment rat intelligence, to make rats into weapons. Now, our heroes, some amateur investigators, and two pen pushers, are trapped down there with telepathic, oversized rats who just hate what humans have done to their kind, and who are planning sweet revenge against all of humanity. The story follows 1983 Doctor Who very well, with the TARDIS crew swiftly split up and following multiple trails to the same location. The small central location and tight plotting makes the atmosphere claustrophobic and tense. This story, however, never would have been done in 1983 given the sensitivities of many viewers about rats, one of the more common phobias. Each of the companions comes out strong in this one. Tegan uses sarcasm to deflect fear, Nyssa is determined to do what she believes to be right, and Turlough is clever rather than cowardly. The electronically processed rat voices get kind of annoying, though. Also, there is a cliched Doctor Who ending in which ignoble people decide to do the noble thing.



Is It The Doctor's Fault Again?

What:Maker of Demons (New Audio Adventure)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Monday 20 February 2017
Rating:   7

Maker of Demons follows the pattern of the last few years that involves taking every species of animal on the planet and one by one turning them into monsters. This time, it's the moles' turn. This of course leads to much funny-voice acting. The story itself is interesting enough, a variation on Shakespeare's Tempest, though the BBV Time Travellers drama Prosperity Island was a much better variation on the same thing. In this case, Doctor 7 and Mel managed to save some future throwbacks to Renaissance Milan from an unidentified disaster without losing a single life. Now, Doctor 7, Ace, and returned Mel go back 100 years later expecting peace and prosperity, but finding war and deprivation. Everyone but everyone is blaming The Doctor for this situation, and The Doctor takes it all to heart, blaming himself the most. That's fine as it goes. On the negative side, non-TARDIS characters are rather one-dimensional. We get some cartoon bad-guy acting. Several deaths and surprises are clumsily telegraphed. On the positive side, the chemistry between Doctor, Ace, and Mel is surprisingly good. The companions act as two sides of The Doctor's conscience, Ace the "do something" side, and Mel the "let's think about this" side. Though they have few scenes together, Ace and Mel manage a real connection, a mutual understanding and respect for each other that makes them a refreshing combination for traveling companions. Ace gets some excellent lines. So, though a little predictable at times, Maker of Demons is still entertaining.



Light Entertainment

What:You Are The Doctor (New Audio Adventure)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Tuesday 14 February 2017
Rating:   7

Another entry in the 4 short stories sequence for Big Finish, You Are The Doctor goes for entertainment over substance. The linking element of the stories is that The Doctor is now letting Ace pilot the TARDIS and she keeps getting it wrong. The first story, You Are The Doctor, has our heroes running around in what appears to be a computer game version of "choose your adventure." The villains are comic relief pig aliens. Next is Come Die With Me, a traditional one-house murder mystery. Third is The Grand Betelgeuse Hotel, about a heist gone wrong. It has an interesting flashback narrative technique. Last is Dead to the World, in which our heroes end up on board a seemingly doomed spaceship with only three people left alive. As is usual with these collections of shorts, the action moves apace and things happen quickly. All are played in a half-silly half-serious manner except for the first, which is just silly.



More Time Twisting from Jonathan Morris

What:Prisoners of Fate (New Audio Adventure)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Sunday 12 February 2017
Rating:   7

Prisoners of Fate is going to impress those who like tidbits thrown to the fans. It has these in abundance. The brief for this was to tie up the loose ends that have been hanging about Nyssa's story as Big Finish has developed it. This means much emotionality and hand-wringing. It means that Turlough's part in the story is much smaller, though to be fair he got his spotlight in Eldrad Must Die and Kiss of Death. The story itself revolves around a time paradox set in motion by Nyssa crossing her own history, but a part of it she knew nothing about. Now, having learned that she left behind her children for 25 years, she cannot go back to her old life as she thought. But, there is a villain just waiting to capitalize on the energies of the paradox from her doing just that. Much of this story has similarities to Morris's earlier time twister, Flip-Flop, in that we have a depressing society run by corrupt leadership, setting the stage for much "it did happen/it didn't happen" plotting. The corrupt leader, Sibor, is too much of a cartoon baddy to be of much interest. The story does present some challenge for the listener regarding the various directions of the possibilities. It also does tie up most of those loose ends.



Very Very enjoyable

What:The Power of the Daleks (BBC classic series DVD)
By:justin barnes, st.louis/mo, United States
Date:Saturday 11 February 2017
Rating:   10

This has always been a BBC favorite, so for them to totally do this was not a
surprise for me.It's looks Fantastic, Mark Ayres has done a wonderful job with the
audio, plenty of extras, and the plus is the original BBC Website Recon of the story with audio and telesnaps.
DVD's were done write.

SPOILER
There a humors animated error in episode 1 if anyone can spot it and the scene
actually adds to it.



Another Booby-Trap Story

What:Tomb Ship (New Audio Adventure)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Friday 10 February 2017
Rating:   7

Tomb Ship is one of those claustrophobic tales that pop up every now and again. The Doctor and Nyssa arrive on a giant tomb in space for the god-king of a lost race. Unfortunately, this tomb is full of deadly traps requiring intelligence and a little more to escape. To make matters worse, there is a tomb-robbing family trying to break in to steal the treasure supposedly hidden in the tomb. Basically, we have something like a 19th-century lost world adventure story set in space. Being set entirely inside the tomb places a limitation on what can happen in the story. It's the City of the Exilons or the Pyramid on Mars episode stretched thin to four episodes. A real problem for me is the mother, the ruthless matriarch of this robber family. As the actress says in her interview on the bonus track, the character is two dimensional. She's all greed and self-interest, a two-note part that really does not provide much of an antagonist for the Doctor. The story is entertaining enough, and there are no major blunders. It just runs a bit longer than it ought to.



Great Concept Piece

What:Aquitaine (New Audio Adventure)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Friday 10 February 2017
Rating:   8

Aquitaine presents Doctor Who in a format that almost always works for the show and is all too seldom done. It is science fiction in a pure form. Doctor 5 with Nyssa and Tegan answer a distress call leading them to the spaceship Aquitaine. Things are not quite right. The place is overgrown with weeds, dusty and deserted apart from the ship's robot intelligence, known as Hargreaves, and what appear to be ghosts. Our crew get split up, not just in space, but also in time. Something is up with the black hole around which the good ship Aquitaine is in orbit. Impending disaster is looming faster and faster and the options for survival are rapidly reducing. The premise is marvelous, giving the audience much to think about. The character of Hargreaves draws admiration as the kind of artificial personality one would actually like to have in a robot. The plot moves apace, and tension builds well. There is only one thing preventing me from giving this full marks, and that is the addition of a Russian mad scientist of the Professor Zaroff variety. The stock villain is the weakest character in the piece, providing an artificial and awkward plot twist in what is otherwise a quite logical story.



Definitely Graham Williams

What:The Lost Stories: The Nightmare Fair (Lost Stories audio)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Tuesday 7 February 2017
Rating:   7

The first of the unproduced episodes from the 1985-6 season of Doctor Who would have had the return of the Celestial Toymaker, probably with Michael Gough reprising his role. This story would have brought the matter up to date with the Toymaker now working on video games, the newest vogue in entertainment of the mid 1980s. When Big Finish decided to produce audio versions of the missing episodes, Michael Gough had already passed away. In his stead, David Baille does a marvelous job of recreating the mixture of menace and bored ennui that Gough brought to create a memorable villain. In this story, the Toymaker has taken up residence in the funfair at Blackpool. He is now working on producing the ultimate video game, a game that would ensnare millions of users.

Big Finish has worked very hard to recreate the 1985 Doctor Who feel. This includes having a much tetchier Doctor 6 than in the regular Big Finish dramas. Also, the background music is set to sound like 1980s analogue synthesizers. I think that the arrangement of music is a little too simple, more 1978 than 1985 if synthesizers were used.

The story itself is entertaining, if a bit disjointed. Scenes switch back and forth, often with returning to a scene skipped ahead a bit in time so that it is difficult to gather what happened there between scenes. Characters appear that seemingly have importance, but turn out to be irrelevant, such as the police detective in the early section of part 1 and Kevin's missing friend at the end of part 2. Other characters appear only because they are needed, and then get simply forgotten once their use is done. Typical of Graham Williams' approach to Doctor Who, menace gets undercut with light satire, so nothing feels quite as urgent as it ought to. In the end, kudos go to Big Finish for a faithful rendition of the story.



Good Sequel

What:Robophobia (New Audio Adventure)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Tuesday 24 January 2017
Rating:   8

Nick Briggs has done well with his sequel to The Robots of Death. He has kept some basic elements and added an interesting twist. Doctor 7, sans companion, has decided to take a look at what, if any, lessons have been learned from the events on the sand miner. It's a few months later and the Doctor has made contact with a Kaldor City agent working undercover on a space freighter shipping thousands of robots. The government hushed up the sand miner affair, but the agent has uncovered some of the details and believes that something related to it will happen on this freighter. He is killed before this knowledge gets passed on and it seems like deja-vu all over again, but the Doctor is not at all convinced that this is what is happening.

The story is typical late-period Doctor 7, with the Doctor plotting and scheming, pushing people around through suggestive questions and comments and revealing very little of what he knows. The story is pacey, and the acting is effective.

I reserve full marks mostly because of some dodgy psychology near the end of the story. In total, though, this is quite an entertaining adventure.



Parody of Justice

What:The Return of Doctor Mysterio (BBC new series DVD/Blu-ray)
By:Earle DL Foster, Invercargill, New Zealand
Date:Monday 23 January 2017
Rating:   8

Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster apparently didn't conceive the pop-cultural character admiringly known as Superman.

The real genesis was made responsible by the Twelfth Doctor misplacing an alien gemstone.

Well, that's the initial premise for Steven Moffat's latest Christmas special, a genuine tongue-in-cheek parody cum homage to the equally wayward Kryptonian (he makes a cameo appearance, via the print medium!), now a masked vigilante recognized as "The Ghost".

Throw in a British version of Lois Lane, some evil brain-swapping alien invaders with a Lex Luthor-like spokesperson, the surprise reappearance of Nardole (having regained his headpiece, virtually!), and you have a decidedly different but nonetheless culturally and humorously appropriate homage to the Metropolis scene. There is even a festive mention with the Doctor being mistaken for Santa Claus and being rewarded with milk and cookies!

The 2016 television event was topped off with an upcoming Season Ten preview, complete with the eventual introduction of newest female companion Bill Potts, and more of the bumblingly likeable Nardole (possibly a subtle reference to the animated Shalka instalment?). Actual judging of the content material aside, it looks like Steven Moffat's last official season will certainly commence with all creative paradoxical guns blazing.



Typical Doc 10

What:The Tenth Doctor Adventures: Time Reaver (Miscellaneous audio)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Sunday 22 January 2017
Rating:   7

Time Reaver is another example of the effort Big Finish puts into reproducing the era of a particular Doctor. Time Reaver would have sat very comfortably in the Tennant canon of televised Doctor Who and could very easily have been filmed. It is on a par with stories like Planet of the Dead and New Earth. The Doctor and companion arrive on a planet for mundane reasons (needing a spare available only from a scrap yard) and behind the scenes on the planet something nasty is cooking away. The Doctor steps in, takes charge, defeats a blobby baddy, and the powers that be have to change their ways. In between there are some funny bits, with Donna really winding up the Doctor's know-it-all pomposity, and some emotional bits, with more of Donna's growing maturity. There are no surprises, but it is quite a bit of fun.



mixed

What:Warlock (New Adventure)
By:David Turner, Buckinghamshire, UK , United Kingdom
Date:Sunday 22 January 2017
Rating:   6

Warlock has lots of good in it, but also lots of bad. It has quick ending and doesn't feel like a dw book however there are some good.



dull

What:Parasite (New Adventure)
By:David Turner, Buckinghamshire, UK , United Kingdom
Date:Sunday 22 January 2017
Rating:   4

Parasite may have a creative setting. It's actually a very confusing, boring and nothing book



Great

What:Birthright (New Adventure)
By:David Turner, Buckinghamshire, UK , United Kingdom
Date:Sunday 22 January 2017
Rating:   9

Birthright may be very short but it is a thrilling and exciting adventure. Although the first half is a lot better.



Average but not very special

What:Sting of the Zygons (BBC new series novel)
By:David Turner, Buckinghamshire, UK , United Kingdom
Date:Sunday 22 January 2017
Rating:   6

This adventure is rather good but it does not do anything interesting or different. While there are good moments the majority is just ok



A Brilliant Audio Re imagining

What:Cold Fusion (Miscellaneous audio)
By:Matthew David Rabjohns, Bridgend, United Kingdom
Date:Saturday 21 January 2017
Rating:   10

I never read Cold Fusion when it was first released. I was never tempted to buy it either when I saw the price of the book now online. But I was really glad to hear when Big Finish announced they would be doing an adaptation of Lance Parkin's novel.

Let me begin by saying I am a huge fan of Lance's writing now. His audio drama Davros I still take to be the definitive Davros story. What impresses is his grasp of the characters. They seem totally one hundred percent real and true. But this review is not about Davros so down to business.

Well, I got Cold Fusion and didn't really know what to expect from it. But I knew it would most certainly be memorable. And I wasn't wrong. The picking of the Fifth and Seventh Doctors to meet was inspired. So we have one of the most agreeable and human like Doctors meeting the most manipulative and devious incarnation! And boy it makes for some tremendous scenes in this fantastic story!

Multi Doctor stories are always going to b huge fun no matter what the story content is actually like, but with Cold Fusion we get multiple Doctors but also with an excellent story line. And not only that, but we get FIVE companions thrown into the mix. Sarah Sutton is as lovely as ever as Nyssa, Tegan is her usual gobby Australian self, Matthew Waterhouse is back as the great Adric. And then we have Travis Oliver and Yasmin Bannerman as the delightful adjudicators Cwej and Forrester. And together they are an often chaotic but brilliantly matched brew. I particularly loved Adric's scenes with Forrester. And Nyssa's deep embarrassment as a nude Cwej in the hotel room! They were hilarious scenes. And then Nyssa gets some good scenes with Cwej as they start to really get on well with each other. I found these scenes too to be touching and really cool.

Then we also get a rarity. Patience. The Doctor's wife maybe? I love how Lance portrays this character, with bucketloads of mystery and suspense. And not all the questions about her character are answered by the end of the story. There are only slightly taunting hints as to her past with the Doctor. She is a time lady, and she certainly knows the Doctor well. But the vagueness surrounding her whets the appetite and just leaves me wondering more and more about this character. I do hope Big Finish have the sense to get her back again one day again. I cant wait to see if we get a return. Kristine Kavanagh must be praised. I love her in the role of Patience. She was perfect.

But its still the two Doctors again where the most fun is to be had. Sylvester McCoy is again such a little sly fox in his dealings as the seventh Doctor with his earlier incarnation! But Peter Davison rises to the challenge and has some great lines for the seventh Doctor to hear too. Lance really made the most of these two oh so different incarnations of the Doctor here. Lance has done a brilliant story for the two of them!

I like also that the seventh Doctor meets Adric...and that makes for some great scenes of subtlety on the doctor's part so as to not give away what is to happen to the ill fated Alzarian. Matthew Waterhous really is back in the TARDIS again with the brilliant eighties crew. I am delighted to have him back for more stories.

So I cant give this brilliant adaptation less than a whole 10 out of 10. This is awesome Doctor Who!



Run, Run, Run

What:Dark Eyes (Miscellaneous audio)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Friday 20 January 2017
Rating:   7

In the tradition of The Chase and The Daleks' Masterplan, Dark Eyes follows the adventures of the Doctor and a companion on the run from the Daleks, chased across space and time. As in The Daleks' Masterplan, the Daleks are helped out by a humanoid turncoat, the mysterious Kotris, also known as X. The story begins with a Doctor distraught after Lucy's death being offered "hope" from Time Lord Straxus. Of course, Straxus has secret motivations for this, but the Doctor seemingly accepts Straxus' offer and heads off to France in WWI searching for some kind of unusual something. He finds it in the young Molly O'Sullivan, whose unusually dark eyes provide the title of the whole story. Part One, The Great War, gets the two together and lets us in on the idea that the Daleks have something to do with this. Part Two, Fugitives, has our duo bopping around time and space, encountering Daleks, and generally working up the Doctor's distrust of Molly. In Part Three, Tangled Web, there is more running around, but also we learn that Molly is the centerpiece of the Kotris/Dalek plan to destroy the Time Lords. Part Four, X and the Daleks, gives us the big showdown with all the principal characters.

I find this story not as compelling as so many others have found it. There is too much running and hiding, going here and there and getting not much of anywhere. By the end of Part Three, a heck of a lot of blood has been spilled, emotions have been emoted, and TARDIS's been battered about, but the listener is not much wiser about the overall plan than at the end of Part One. The Doctor is more a pawn than anything else and has almost nothing to do with resolving the conflicts. Molly strikes me as just a bit too Irish. And there are too many large gaps in the action while the Doctor is unconscious, leaving this listener to wonder very often "how did we get here?" This is especially true for the sequence in the mental rehabilitation unit. How did X manage to get The Doctor and Molly there?

Of course, the cast is impressive, including Peter Egan and Toby Jones, both highly respected. Big Finish regulars Alex Malinson, Beth Chalmers, and John Banks provide multiple voices and do so admirably. Even though the story is in four "parts," it is really a continuous adventure. It runs for four hours and is never boring. It's a good, but flawed effort.



Cold

What:Shield of the J├Âtunn (New Audio Adventure)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Friday 13 January 2017
Rating:   6

Start with a vision, a viking tomb in the middle of the Arizona desert, and ask, "How did it get there?" A good start, you might say. "Shield of the Jotunn" has many interesting elements and some surprising plot developments. There are many clever bits. However, these are interspersed in a story that is otherwise rather run-of-the-mill Doctor Who. The Doctor and his new companion, the intrepid Mrs. Clark, arrive in Arizona, 2029, following a time trouble that bothered the TARDIS. There, a high-tech terraforming operation is in place ostensibly to save the planet from the ravages of global warming. The establishment is run by what appears to be a dodgy American billionaire entrepreneur and his almost as dodgy science advisor. The operation accidentally triggers an alien device buried with a bunch of thousand-year-old Viking skeletons. This device creates an instant deep freeze and releases a giant monster in the storm that eats flesh so that it can form a body for itself. At this point, the regular listener can predict where the main story is going to go. There are a couple of surprises, such as that the entrepreneur and scientist really are not baddies, and are not really even misguided fools led to do bad things. They really want to save the planet. The Doctor here is Old Sixie at his best, straight to business, right to the point, doesn't suffer fools, overcompensating for his mistakes. Mrs. Clark is an excellent foil for this Doctor because in many ways she is just like him. It's entertaining enough, but not tense enough because it's too formulaic.



Preposterous

What:1963: Space Race (New Audio Adventure)
By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Friday 13 January 2017
Rating:   5

What is it about Big Finish and the Doctor 6/Peri stories? They've already had a talking pig, the little mermaid, and some other really stupid story elements to work with. Now, it's a talking dog. This thing just ruins what could have been a very intriguing Cold War drama. The Doctor and Peri arrive in Kazakhstan because the TARDIS is on the blink again, and fairly quickly run across some dead bodies in a booby-trapped car. They are mistaken for the people supposedly in the car, scientists going to observe the Soviet space program, and get taken away to the main base of operations. There, they discover that the people whose identities they stole were not scientists, but KGB interrogators. For their own safety, though, our intrepid heroes have to keep up the pretense. All of this is just fine. Had the story stayed there and worked through that problem, we would have been alright. The added fold is the existence of a secret Soviet moon launch to get the first cosmonaut to orbit the moon. However, this capsule has gone missing after passing the dark side of the moon. Intriguing. Then, the capsule reappears, but the cosmonaut seems to have had a memory wipe of some kind. Intriguing. I was thinking that maybe we were going to get reintroduced to the unnamed aliens from "Ambassadors of Death." That would have been an interesting story. However, instead we get the talking dog, and our alien turns out to be a mini black hole turned into a computer. The rationale for performing surgery on a dog to give it a human larynx and brain matter makes no sense. Additionally, that would not create a talking dog, let alone an intelligent talking dog that can lead hundreds of other animals in an animal revolt. At this point, the preposterous just heaps on higher and higher. Can a monkey, not matter how intelligent, actually manipulate a gun? How can an augmented dog suddenly know how to start the launch of an ICBM? How did the black hole perform this surgery on the dog? How did the dog perform the surgery on the monkey? Why didn't the script editor have the good sense to tell the writer to cut out the taking dog?



Just wow!!

What:Prisoner of the Daleks (BBC new series audio)
By:Terri Stevens, Phoenix, United States
Date:Wednesday 11 January 2017
Rating:   10

Wow what a book! This is a truly amazing accomplishment. A real page turner, it kept me up all night. The Daleks were actually scary in a way that watching them on the television could never convey. You really felt that none of them would be able to get out of there alive. Some of was especially hard to read with the torture of the doctor being particularly brutal. The author makes you feel like you are standing in the room with him, watching him suffer but being unable to help. This is not a children's book, only adults should read this. This is the best 10th Doctor and possibly the best Doctor Who book ever hands-down.



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