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Reviews for Doctor Who and the Pescatons

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Something Wicked This Way Comes...

By:Stephen Carlin, Huddersfield, UK
Date:Monday 24 January 2005
Rating:   1

Something wicked this way comes...The Pescatons is one of those little productions that sounds more interesting than it actually is. There was a mystique surrounding this "rare" audio recording. I was lucky enough to buy it when it was first released on CD in the 1990s. Despite a number of listens over the past few years, I have never been able to find anything remotely likeable about this production.

It has none of the story-telling, charm, personality or spirit of the series. The listener could almost be forgiven for believing that this had come from someone who knew nothing about Doctor Who. However, Victor Pemberton had not only contributed one story to the original series, he had also been its script editor for a time.

It begs the question of how something unspeakably awful like this could emerge? You would be better off finding a short cartoon strip printed on the inside of a ice-lolly wrapper. It would have more depth and intrigue than this vapid affair.

This new, 2005 release, has only one feature of note - an interview with Elisabeth Sladen. Apart from that, there is little to commend this travesty. If I included this as an "official" Doctor Who story - then it ranks as the worst story ever made.

Not classic, but class!

By:Tardisuser, Isle of Wight, UK
Date:Friday 16 December 2005
Rating:   8

I don't care what everyone else says, Tom Baker singing 'Hello Dolly!' is up there with his 'Do I have the right speech?' from Genesis of the Daleks. A superb little runaround.

Down, Down, Down

By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Wednesday 28 June 2006
Rating:   4

This is an interesting low-budget audio adventure produced in 1976 while Doctor Who was still running. Elisabeth Sladen had already left the TV show by this time, but agreed to add some dialogue to this production. Mostly, it is Tom Baker narrating. The story itself is reminiscent of Victor Pemberton's other DW contribution, "Fury From The Deep," involving sea-dwelling aliens with a taste for human flesh. It genuinely suffers from not being a full-cast drama, and no matter how deep Baker's voice goes when he says "Down....Dooown....Doooooown," it still cannot add enough drama and pace to make it interesting.

The Doctor Comes To Audio!

By:Matthew Kresal, United States
Date:Sunday 7 September 2008
Rating:   8

Doctor Who And The Pescatons, originally released in 1976, is interesting for a number of reasons. First it was the first Doctor Who story specially done for audio but more importantly perhaps, it is the only Doctor Who audio drama to feature the classic teaming of Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen. So how does this thirty year old audio drama hold up? The answer: surprisingly well.

Why? For starters if you're a Tom Baker fan you will love this. Baker not only gets to play the role of the Doctor, he also gets to narrate the story as well. It is Baker who serves as our guide through the story and he is one who sells it. His voice takes us underwater towards the beginning of the story and to the far off world of Pesca in part two. Baker's acting chops are huge and here, more then anytime in his tenure on the TV series, he gets to show them off.

Backing Baker up is Elisabeth Sladen and Bill Mitchell. Sladen, of course, reprises her role as Sarah Jane Smith from the TV series. While she doesn't appear near the amount that Baker does, she does add a lot to the story. Her presence helps sell the terror of the first scene on the beach and later if a desperate rescue attempt the Pescaton invasion. Mitchell's appearance is the smallest of the three roles but he is the story's villain. And what a villain he makes as one can only wish we could have heard more of him in the story.

Despite the fact that this is only a three hander (the technical term mean "this only has three actors in it") this story still manages to feel epic. The sound effects are exceptional and one only needs to listen to the segments featuring London first in peace and then in terror from the Pescaton invasion to realize that point. I should also mention that this story has a few well placed sound effects that will more then likely make you jump. To back these sound effects is the music. The music by Kenny Clayton could easily rival anything composed by then series composer Dudley Simpson. What does this lead to in the end? An eerie Doctor Who story without some of the laughable special effects from the series (even as a fan one has to admit how the bad effects often hurt the series). But that's the obvious fun of audio drama: you create the adventure's visuals.

The story isn't perfect of course and does have flaws. Victor Pemberton's writing is terrific in terms of plot (even though one can trace the stories origins to other Doctor Who TV stories especially Jon Pertwee's story The Sea Devils), but it is in the narration that the flaws in the writing can be found. Scenes seem to jump too quickly, for example how the opening scene on the beach jumps to the Doctor's underwater exploration with a quick piece of narration. The story needed development in terms of bringing in more scenes and character to add depth to the story. But this can be forgiven when keeping in mind the limits of the LP technology thirty years ago. Yet even when this forgiven, it is an inescapable fact that this is still a major flaw.

The other interesting aspect of this release is the contents of the second disk. Disk one is the actual program (the story is only about 45 minutes long) while the second disk contains a treat: an interview with Elisabeth Sladen. She discusses (along with interviewers Mark Ayers and Michael Stevens) the rather rushed production of this story. But outside of that discussion they go into Sladen's time on the TV series. It offers a behind the scenes glimpse into the series, in particular why Jon Pertwee left the series and Sladen's view on the controversy surrounding the "horror sequences" of the series. It's interesting to listen to, especially if one is a fan of this era of the series.

As a fan of Doctor Who, it is hard not to enjoy this story. It's the only audio adventure featuring Tom Baker's fourth Doctor after all. Yet this offers a chance any fan can, and should, relish: a chance to take a classic Doctor and a great story and create the visual aspects of the story in our minds. No bad special effects to hamper the terror and thrills. Instead we have only the sounds of the actors, the incredible sound effects, and the creepy music of Kenny Clayton. If that's not worth a fan's time and money, what is?

The very first audio and it shows

By:John Saltzburg, Philadelphia, PA USA
Date:Thursday 14 January 2010
Rating:   5

Orignially recorded and released on LP (vynyl) in 1976 this story is of significance only becuase it is technically the very first Dr who audio. It's a cast of 3 Tom, Liz and the voice for the Pecaton leader. Aimed at children it is a bit silly but at 45 minutes it's a quick listen and still worth hearing as a historical item but don't expect high drama

Primitive Who

By:Doug, Pocono Summit, PA, USA
Date:Wednesday 8 December 2010
Rating:   2

The Pescatons really has the feel of the early 70s to it - not early 70s Who, just early 70s in general. There's a Jon Pertwee-ish minimal electronic music score for the incidental music, and the dialogue recordings are noticeably off - done in a reverberant booth evidently, which makes the outdoor scenes rather cheesy-sounding. Then there's a chain-smoking chief alien (well, that's what he sounds like), and the scenes of aliens attacking the city is mainly just REALLY LOUD, grating screams... pause, then MORE REALLY LOUD grating screams!

The best thing about this production is simply the voices of Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen, giving this their best efforts, though it's mostly narration by the Doctor, with sound effects and a few acted scenes here and there, some of them featuring Sarah Jane. It was interesting to hear them on this, from shortly after Sladen's time on television, but other than that, it's mostly dreadful. A bit like a circus side show curiosity, I suppose...

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