The Quatermass All-Purpose Media Review Thread

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Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
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#1
Well, time to do a review thread.

Now, on other BBSes, I used to do review threads for Doctor Who (separated threads for the TV series and the audios), as well as films. But with my withdrawing from one forum, and the closure of another (the latter being the Big Finish forums), I've decided to start a new review thread here.

Although this thread will primarily concern itself with Doctor Who (TV series and the audios), I will include other TV shows, films, and audio dramas. I have separate threads for my book reviews, and I do reviews on video games through Steam.

Some caveats...

*I will NOT be taking suggestions. Anyone who does so will find themselves being given a very rude answer. However, comments and dissenting opinions (NOT reviews: this is MY review thread) are welcome, as long as they are decent and well-thought out.

*Unlike my book review threads, I don't have to watch or listen to a new thing every week.

*I used to have a very skewed scoring system. A few of you may remember said system when I started a similar thread going back over the Discworld novels, as well as the dispute that followed. After some consideration, I have adopted a new, still skewed but far less so, scoring system based on five stars. The scores are still my business. Dispute with the scoring system at your peril. In this thread, I am Stephen Fry on QI, and you really don't want to be klaxoned. :p

The first review will be Doctor Who: The Magician's Apprentice/The Witch's Familiar...
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,246
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#2
REVIEW: Doctor Who: The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar by Steven Moffat

TYPE: TV series

DETAILS: Serial 9.1/9.2, 2X45 minute episodes



Of late, I’ve had something of an anhedonia when it comes to things I enjoy, so it’s about time that I try to fix that. And it is thus fitting that my first review of this thread is the first story of the new series of Doctor Who. Despite the names of the episode titles, The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar is not a fantasy story. It not only features the return of Missy, the female Master, but also Davros and the Daleks. Of course, throwing in popular elements for a story doesn’t necessarily make it good…

The Doctor is missing. The mysterious and malevolent Colony Sarff, a minion of Davros, is trying to seek him out. Missy, having survived her last encounter with the Doctor, has also noticed the absence of the Doctor, as she has been given a Confession Dial, the Gallifreyan equivalent of the Doctor’s Last Will and Testament. Luring Clara and UNIT to help her find the Doctor, they track him down to England in 1138, where he is having one last party. But Missy and Clara soon get caught up in a vicious game Davros intends to play with the Doctor’s life. Is Davros truly dying? Can Clara and the Doctor trust Missy? And what does it all have to do with a chance encounter the Doctor had with Davros when the creator of the Daleks was still a child?

Once more, the Daleks come in for their annual contractual obligation appearance. Davros makes a return from the grave, as does Missy. And yet, despite all of this, this turns out to be an excellent story, examining the relationship between the Doctor and Davros, as well as that between the Doctor and Missy. Filled with wit and good dialogue and intriguing themes and even some surprising poignancy in the interaction between the Doctor and Davros, this is how Doctor Who was meant to be, after some of the shakier parts of the previous season. Hell, we even have an explanation for how she survived the last encounter (which is more than you can say about some Anthony Ainley appearances), and while there are some cracks, they have been expertly papered over so much that you can ignore them, and just enjoy the show.

Peter Capaldi has truly found his feet as the Doctor, the character also having finally found his time travel legs. Jenna Coleman is good as Clara, especially considering what happens to her in the second episode. This is the first full story I have seen with Michelle Gomez as Missy, the female Master, and she is a delight, somewhere between John Simm and Anthony Ainley, delightfully flamboyant and unrepentantly wicked. Julian Bleach makes a welcome return as Davros, not embarked on a genocidal plan, but as a subtle manipulator who could have come from the Davros in many of the Big Finish audios, as well as Revelation of the Daleks. We even have touching moments, like Davros and the Doctor sharing a joke, or Davros opening eyes we always thought were scarred shut.

The production overall is quite good. Not brilliant, but it does its job well. Skaro and the city of the Daleks looks like an updated version of the world seen in the Sixties stories, with a variety of Daleks from stories past and present shown, like in Asylum of the Daleks. And it is shown how chillingly effective Julian Bleach’s mask as Davros is when the villain opens his real eyes. You actually think you are looking at a real being. The effects of Colony Sarff are somewhat noticeable, but forgivable.

Overall, The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar is a story that you hope for: one that has the elements fans yearn for, but also has the magic and the emotion. Seriously, good start, Moffat. Seriously.

*****
 

Tonyblack

Super Moderator
City Watch
Jul 25, 2008
28,517
94
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Cardiff, Wales
#3
There was certainly a look back in those episodes to (I think) The Genesis of the Daleks, an old Tom Baker episode, where the Doctor has the chance to destroy the Daleks once and for all while they are first being created. He's stuck with a similar quandary here - not rescue the young Davros = no Daleks EVER! He wouldn't have even had to kill Davros, or any embryonic Daleks as he did in the early incarnation. All he had to do was leave Davros to his apparent fate. But that is not the Doctor. I'm really glad to see episodes like this, that explore Time and Space and universe changing decisions.
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,246
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#4
Tonyblack said:
There was certainly a look back in those episodes to (I think) The Genesis of the Daleks, an old Tom Baker episode, where the Doctor has the chance to destroy the Daleks once and for all while they are first being created. He's stuck with a similar quandary here - not rescue the young Davros = no Daleks EVER! He wouldn't have even had to kill Davros, or any embryonic Daleks as he did in the early incarnation. All he had to do was leave Davros to his apparent fate. But that is not the Doctor. I'm really glad to see episodes like this, that explore Time and Space and universe changing decisions.
Genesis of the Daleks and the Doctor's dilemma in committing genocide against the Daleks in that story was a key point, yes. It's good when Doctor Who uses its previous mythology effectively, which this story did. However, all too often (especially in the JNT era in the 80s, never mind the new series), they wallow in that continuity, but don't use it as effectively as they can.

This is an episode on a par with a lot of what Big Finish is doing lately.

Actually, this story also has a couple of references to my personal favourite Davros story, Revelation of the Daleks. In it, Davros has become known as the Great Healer, who not only works (supposedly) to cure the illnesses plagueing the clients of a cryogenic stasis facility slash funeral home called Tranquil Repose, but also creating a protein extract that has saved the galaxy from famine. In fact, he is using the people in suspended animation, either turning them into a new army of Daleks, or into said protein extract. You see the Doctor's horrified reaction in The Magician's Apprentice briefly: "But did you bother to tell anyone that they might be eating their own relatives?" Davros actually makes a joke with his retort (not seen in The Magician's Apprentice), although at this time, the Doctor doesn't laugh: "Certainly not! That would have created what I believe is termed... 'consumer resistance'."
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,246
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#5
Okay, I've decided to try and start again with the reviews, but I'll be doing them in an interesting way, pairing stories to the episodes. These include the Big Finish stories.

So, in order, my tentative list so far is...

Genesis of the Daleks
Terror Firma
Prisoners of the Lake
Night Thoughts
Terror of the Zygons
The Day of the Doctor
The Fires of Pompeii
Phantasmagoria
...Ish
Earthshock
Neverland
Zagreus
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,246
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#6
Actually, changed my mind. The next reviews should be of the individual stories of Doctor Who: The Sixth Doctor: The Last Adventure. Yes, that's right. Big Finish have done a regeneration story for the Sixth Doctor, and I've just got my copy.
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,246
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#7
REVIEW: Doctor Who: The End of the Line by Simon Barnard and Paul Morris

TYPE: Audio drama

DETAILS: 6DLA 1, 1X65 minute episode



Having just obtained The Sixth Doctor: The Last Adventure, it’s about time that I started listening to it. I’ve also yet to listen to any Doctor Who Big Finish audio released this year, so it’s just as well. The first story in this epic boxset, The End of the Line, is notable for being the first released story to feature Miranda Raison as Constance Clarke, a former WREN codebreaker and new companion to the Sixth Doctor, whose debut adventure, Criss Cross, premiered the next month after this was released. But how would I like this story?

A commuter train grinds to a halt within a fogbound Kettering Junction. The Doctor and Constance Clarke help out legal clerk Tim Hope, only to find more than they bargained for. Coming across apparently multiple versions of the same train, confronted with the multiple deaths of the same person, they find themselves trapped, along with a group of very scared, and very paranoid people. And dark thoughts are beginning to infect the minds of the stranded. Why are the trains stranded here? Who, or what, is killing off the passengers? And is this the work of one of the Doctor’s oldest enemies?

Many elements of this story are reminiscent of the new series story Midnight, as well as the Big Finish boxset UNIT: Dominion. Coming across as Doctor Who meets Sapphire and Steel with a touch of Silent Hill (I wouldn’t be surprised if the latter was an inspiration for this story, given the fogbound locale and the psychological horror aspects), it nonetheless lacks the tension and pressure-cooker feel needed for such a story. That being said, it has more than a few startling twists.

Colin Baker is a delight as always as the Sixth Doctor, while Miranda Raison is interesting as Constance Clarke, though I would probably have to listen to her debut story to understand her character better. Anthony Howell as Tim Hope is pretty good, as is Hamish Clark as the bland and officious Norman (who is bland and officious for a good reason). Chris Finney as Keith Potter is good, especially as his character is key to one of the main twists of the story, and thus, he does a good job of emulating an actor who is no longer with us. The other characters are a bit samey, but still manage to keep up some of the claustrophobia needed for the story.

What can I say about Big Finish’s sound design that I haven’t already in so many other reviews elsewhere? It is superlative, and there is one sound effect that you’ll hear partway through that will have fans of the classic series jumping up in their seats. I think it could have done with a bit more atmosphere, though.

Overall, The End of the Line was a good start to The Sixth Doctor: The Last Adventure. Not brilliant, but certainly with many good twists along the way…


****

Rather appropriately (and very much serendipitously), today (my time) is the 62nd anniversary of Doctor Who.
 

Quatermass

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Dec 7, 2010
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#8
If any of you care, the next review will be of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, after I see it tomorrow afternoon.
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,246
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#9
REVIEW: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens by Lawrence Kasdan, JJ Abrams and Michael Arndt

TYPE: Movie

DETAILS: SW7, 135 mins


When Disney announced a new trilogy of Star Wars films, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who felt ambivalent. After all, this seemed like another attempt to milk the blackened teats of the Star Wars cash cow. And yet, given that George Lucas, for all his storytelling ability, managed to mess up the potential of the prequels, it was still possible that it could be better than them, or even on a level with past instalments. With JJ Abrams, the man who successfully rebooted the Star Trek films, on board, there is cause for a new hope (if you’ll forgive the pun). But would it be enough?

It has been three decades since the fall of the Empire and the restoration of the Republic. But the Galaxy is far from being at peace. The First Order has risen from the remains of the Empire, Luke Skywalker has vanished from the face of the Galaxy in shame from his worst mistake, and only a Resistance led by General Leia Organa stands between the Republic and the First Order. But history is repeating itself once more, as Resistance pilot Poe Dameron is sent to the desert world of Jakku to retrieve part of a map that shows the last known whereabouts of Luke. Dameron is soon captured by the vicious Kylo Ren, the First Order’s brutal enforcer, but saved by a Stormtrooper he dubs Finn. This begins a journey that will take Finn, and Jakku scavenger Rey, on a journey across the Galaxy, where they will encounter legends of the past like Han Solo, and confront a new terror, the Starkiller Base. But Kylo Ren holds a dark secret, one that links Han Solo, Leia, and Luke, and one that will bring Rey and Finn together in a desperate battle to save the Resistance…

On the face of it, the story of The Force Awakens is an enjoyable action romp, with a lot of punchy dialogue. The actual story is, admittedly, a bit thin on the ground, though you could say this about many a Star Wars film before. One thing that is noticeable is that the story is basically A New Hope 2.0, and while this is not necessarily a bad thing by any means, given that it seems to work better, it nonetheless gives the feeling of having tread the same ground before. It does have some genuinely shocking moments, though, which I will not spoil (though half the internet has already), as well as some quite good moments of comedy (including one scene with Rey and a Stormtrooper near the end, which is as comedic as it is serious).

On the character front, I enjoyed the newcomers of Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac as Rey, Finn, and Poe respectively. My biggest complaint is that Rey seems just a touch too competent at what she does, though at least she’s as astonished by some of her feats as the audience is. And despite my misgivings about his design, the actual character of Kylo Ren, portrayed both masked and maskless by Adam Driver, is actually interesting, and certainly distinct from Darth Vader, or at least how he was in the original trilogy (when he was Anakin was another matter). Of those returning, Harrison Ford as Han Solo gives what is probably his best performance as the character, especially given his link to one of the newcomers.

In terms of production, though, this film excels. This feels like the film Star Wars was meant to be. It’s still recognisably Star Wars, but better, more polished, and feeling just right. The music by John Williams is, as always, spot on, the special effects do well, the CGI characters are good (and nary a Jar-Jar in sight), and the battles exciting. However, one bum note, and a particularly noteworthy one considering the prominence of the character, is that I think the costume (specifically the mask) of Kylo Ren feels…generic. Not quite menacing enough. The same can’t be said about his very intimidating and unstable-looking lightsabre.

Overall, while by no means perfect or even truly deep, The Force Awakens is certainly a return to form for the Star Wars series. It feels right, and despite having just a tad too much of the familiar, it hits all the right notes at just the right times.


****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
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#10
REVIEW: Doctor Who: The Deadly Assassin by Robert Holmes

TYPE: TV series

DETAILS: Serial 4P, 4X25 minute episodes


The Deadly Assassin is perhaps one of the most pivotal Doctor Who stories of all time. While by no means the first story to feature the Time Lords or their world, it is certainly the first story to be set largely on Gallifrey, and to explore Time Lord culture. But to some fans, it is controversial for de-deifying the Time Lords. But is this an opinion I share?

Recalled to Gallifrey, the Doctor suffers a frightening premonition of the assassination of the President of the Time Lords. Almost as soon as he lands on Gallifrey, he is forced to go on the run, in a series of events leading to the assassination itself, a crime the Doctor is framed for. In order to clear his name, the Doctor embarks on an investigation with cynical Castellan Spandrell and ancient Coordinator Engin, which will lead him on a journey into the Matrix, the repository of all Time Lord knowledge. But who is his unseen opponent? Why is the Master involved? And what is the Master’s plan?

While companion-lite stories would not make much of an appearance in the TV series until the new series, this story could be considered a prototype, written by Robert Holmes at Tom Baker’s insistence. Baker believed he could carry the show alone, and while that in itself is doubtful, it is through the masterful pen of Robert Holmes that this story manages it. It brings Time Lord culture to life, even if it is a somewhat dusty, antiquarian one, and there is some good dialogue, as expected from Holmes, along with an extended mental battle to the death that occupies much of the story. References to the Kennedy Assassination, as well as to The Manchurian Candidate, work out, and Holmes proved himself prescient to create the Matrix long before the Wachowskis did their movies. And there’s a sense of psychological horror throughout the Matrix sequences that is fairly daring for the time.

Tom Baker is, as usual, an excellent Doctor, and without a companion, manages to carry much of the show. However, he is far from the only enjoyable character. George Pravda does excellently as the world-weary, cynical Spandrell, as does Bernard Horsfall as Chancellor Goth and Angus MacKay as the first person to play Borusa. But it is Peter Pratt who steals the show as a decrepit, decaying and dying Master. Given how he had to fill the pretty big shoes of Roger Delgado, Pratt manages to make the role his own, despite having to use a restrictive mask.

Although dated by today’s standards, director David Maloney manages to slot together an excellent production that works in every way. Special effects work very well, with the only minor complaint being that the Master’s mask is almost completely immobile, the mouth barely moving in time to Pratt’s dialogue. Simpson’s music does very well, and the direction, particularly of the nightmarish Matrix sequences, is excellent and suitably surreal, hearkening back to Maloney’s first work on the series, The Mind Robber.

Overall, The Deadly Assassin is a practically perfect masterpiece, and is one of the best stories of Tom Baker’s era. Any fan of the series owes it to themselves to watch it.


*****
 

Quatermass

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Dec 7, 2010
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#11
REVIEW: Doctor Who: Dalek by Robert Shearman

TYPE: TV series

DETAILS: Serial 1.6, 1X45 minute episode



The first Dalek story of the new series had a troubled genesis. After all, there was considerable uncertainty that the Daleks would be allowed by Terry Nation’s estate to appear in the series. Robert Shearman effectively adapted one of his Big Finish audio stories, Jubilee, into Dalek. While only some elements would remain, he also intended to make sure the Daleks re-entered the series with a bang, ensuring that the Daleks, who had become a little jokey and staid in some people’s minds, would become known as a threat again. But did he succeed?

The year is 2012, the place is Utah. Beneath the deserts near Salt Lake City, ruthless billionaire and computer expert Henry van Statten has the Vault, a museum filled with alien artifacts. The Doctor and Rose, following a distress signal, land in the museum just as van Statten arrives on his birthday to indulge in his hobby. But deep within van Statten’s museum is his one living specimen, one he has dubbed the Metaltron, and which he is torturing to force it to speak. The Doctor, locked alone with it, soon realises it is the last surviving member of its species…and it’s a Dalek. And when Rose, unaware of the danger, accidentally causes the Dalek to be able to free itself, chaos ensues. As the Dalek rampages through the Vault, and Rose flees for her life, the Doctor, even as he tries to stop the Dalek, must confront the own darkness within his soul…

While inferior to Jubilee in many respects (Jubilee being a more complex and contemplative story comparing the Daleks and humanity), Dalek does extremely well in taking many core elements of the audio story and putting them on TV. We manage to feel, to some degree, sympathy with a Dalek, and also have some exploration of the darker elements of the Doctor’s character. Everything is tightly woven together and pretty much perfect from a writing viewpoint.

Christopher Eccleston is getting into his stride as the Doctor, and it is here that he manages to show some of the darkest corners of the Doctor’s character, showing spite and hatred that, while not usual for the Doctor, manages to remain in character. He manages that, though, without sacrificing the essential humanity of the Doctor. Billie Piper as Rose is good, as she is, particularly in her interactions with the Dalek. While the various human cast members do well, like Bruno Langley as Adam Mitchell and Corey Johnson as van Statten, it is Nicholas Briggs as the Dalek itself that perhaps deserves the most praise. Briggs’ years of playing the Daleks for the Big Finish audios and portraying them in unusual ways pays off, with a Dalek that not only fakes some emotions to get what it wants, but also getting genuine ones.

Production-wise, while this story isn’t stellar, being set mostly in an underground base, the direction and action keep the story going at a fair old pace. The special effects are good, the music too, but the star is, of course, the re-designed Dalek. It looks solid and intimidating, which was kind of the point of the new design, I should think.

Overall, Dalek is an excellent introduction of the Daleks to the new series. It’s certainly one of the best Dalek stories in the TV series, never mind the new series…


*****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,246
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#12
REVIEW: Deadpool by Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese

TYPE: Movie

DETAILS: 108 mins


I haven’t had any desire to see any X-Men films since the second one. But when I found out that a movie starring Deadpool in the lead role was coming out, I was intrigued. True, I hadn’t actually read any of the comics fully (let the cries of ‘heretic!’ commence), but I had played the video game, and what little I had read anyway showed me that Deadpool was a character I would like. Of course, given that the movie Deadpool was released by the very studio that, to quote Deadpool himself in a teaser, sewed his f***ing lips shut the last time around, well, I wondered whether I would like the movie, even with the awesome trailers…

Wade Wilson, mercenary, has been spending time scaring away stalkers from teenagers and spending time with girlfriend Vanessa Carlyle. Unfortunately, shortly after proposing to Vanessa, he learns that he has terminal cancer. Approached by a shady organisation who offer to cure his cancer and grant him superpowers, Wade reluctantly accepts, only to find that said organisation are creating superpowered soldiers as slaves, and he will never see Vanessa again. After a torturous awakening of regenerative powers, he escapes, but at a cost: although his powers heal him of his cancer, they have left him disfigured, and he is reluctant to allow Vanessa to see him like this. He makes it his task to track down Ajax, the man who made him like this, and force him to undo his disfigurement. Helped and hindered by Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead of the X-Men, roommate Blind Al, and his friend Weasel, Wade Wilson, now Deadpool, embarks on a roaring rampage of revenge, but will he succeed?

The storyline itself is actually quite simple, even by comic book movie standards. This is by no means a bad thing, for the script is chock-a-block full of references, humour darker than the event horizon of a black hole, and plenty of action. Such things paper over the cracks very well, as does the fourth-wall breaking and recursive timeline. It’s violent and ridiculously puerile, but I can live with that. Hell, I can enjoy that if its put together well enough, and it is.

Most of the characters, while not exactly deep and meaningful, are pretty good. The star of the show is, of course, the improbably Stan Lee-esque alliteratively named Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson, aka Deadpool. His performance as the infamous Merc with the Mouth carries much of the film, especially as much of it, he is wearing a mask over his face. Morena Baccarin is great as Vanessa Carlyle, giving a heart to the proceedings, even if the game of ‘my life is worse than yours’ one-upmanship she engages in gets ridiculous. TJ Miller as Weasel, Leslie Uggams as Blind Al, and Brianna Hildebrand as the improbably named Negasonic Teenage Warhead are also quite good. The villains are somewhat generic, but still do well. The biggest disappointment is Colossus, who is seems to be a parodic caricature of himself, frankly (and not helped by the CGI).

The production values of the movie in general are pretty good, with the movie moving along at the right pace, and the flashbacks and flashforwards happening at the right time. It does look, at times, a bit low-budget compared to similar films, but for this film, it works. My biggest complaint is Colossus. The character himself was bad enough, but when paired with a CGI body that is one of the worst-looking CGI characters I have seen in a fairly high-budget film, well, yeah.

Overall, though, Deadpool was highly enjoyable, despite a simplistic script, somewhat dull villains, and a crappy Colossus. The rest of the film, happily, worked overtime to overcome such deficiencies…


****
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,246
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#13
REVIEW: Doctor Who: All-Consuming Fire by Guy Adams, from the novel by Andy Lane

TYPE: Audio drama

DETAILS: NA08, 4X30 minute episodes



One of my all-time favourite Doctor Who novels, if not one of my all-time favourite books, is All-Consuming Fire by Andy Lane. Besides an intricate story involving elements of the Cthulhu Mythos, it also brings together the Doctor with none other than Sherlock Holmes. The fact that Big Finish intended to adapt this story (as a fusion between its Doctor Who audios as well as its lesser-known but still profligate range of Sherlock Holmes adaptations) was enough for me to pre-order it, though it took me until now to listen to it. But would I enjoy it?

Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are retained by no less a personage than the Pope himself. Their task? To investigate the theft of books from the Library of St John the Beheaded, where tomes of forbidden knowledge are kept. Amongst the suspects is the Doctor, and soon, Holmes and Watson are thrown into an adventure that will test their sanity to their very limits. What links does the theft have to Holmes’ family? What interest does Baron Maupertuis have in these books? And what ties these events to those on a distant world, where an ancient being lies in wait?

The story, to me, is a familiar and enjoyable one. True, more than a few elements that were enjoyable were trimmed and left by the wayside during the adaptation (though one change, where Holmes and Watson track Maupertuis to, is certainly welcome enough, especially to make the audio more accessible and less repugnant to a general audience), and some explanations (like those regarding Surd, or the denouement) are rather rushed, or else left in the air. But overall, most of the essential spirit of the original remains, and it is certainly compelling, despite the abbreviated adaptation. It even keeps the narration from the original book.

Sylvester McCoy is a delight as always as the Doctor, as is Lisa Bowerman as Bernice Summerfield, as well as Sophie Aldred as Ace. Nicholas Briggs makes quite a good Sherlock Holmes, as does Richard Earl as Watson, though their characters have been changed somewhat from the book, presumably to bring them in line with what Big Finish did with their characters before. Of the guest cast, I feel that Hugh Fraser as Sherringford and Samantha Beart as Azathoth are the best, though Hugh Fraser is criminally underutilised, and Azathoth seems more initially malevolent than she was in the book (where she is described as having a sweet, benign voice, albeit sickeningly so).

As usual, the Big Finish audios are superlative in their sound design. My biggest complaint (and admittedly a relatively minor one) is that the voice processing for Azathoth and the Rakshassi is somewhat generic. I’ve heard similar voices before all the bloody time, and it’s nothing special, the processing they used. Other than that, it’s a good story.

Overall, while not perfect, All-Consuming Fire was an excellent adaptation of an excellent novel. After all, what do you get when you combine Sherlock Holmes with Doctor Who? You get, with the right writers and performers, pure awesome.

****½
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,246
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#14
Next, I'm going to try and do a run of stories I haven't watched or listened to at all or recently with all twelve of the Doctors. In order, they will be...

The Tenth Planet

The Enemy of the World

The Mind of Evil

Trail of the White Worm/The Oseidon Adventure

Phantasmagoria

The Wishing Beast

Terror of the Sontarans

The Twilight Kingdom

The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances

The End of Time

The Doctor's Wife

Sleep No More
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,246
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#15
Keep in mind that the preceding list was a purely tentative one. I might watch or listen to different stories in the end...
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
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#16
REVIEW: Doctor Who: The Fragile Yellow Arc of Fragrance by Moris Farhi, adapted by Nigel Robinson

TYPE: Audio drama

DETAILS: LS09.2, 1X35 minute episode


Sadly, one of the authors who could have made a contribution to the early years of Doctor Who fell by the wayside. Turkish author Moris Farhi contributed a spec script for the series, the awkwardly-titled The Fragile Yellow Arc of Fragrance, and was commissioned to write a story about Alexander the Great, Farewell, Great Macedon, which sadly never aired. But recently, his unproduced scripts were turned into Big Finish audios. How did The Fragile Yellow Arc of Fragrance turn out, then?

For some time, the TARDIS crew have been holidaying on the peaceful, utopic world of Fragrance, unaware that paradise holds a dark secret. For the lives of Fragrance’s inhabitants are divided into two phases, the Thin Purple Arc and the Fragile Yellow Arc. In the latter phase, the natives of Fragrance, in their maturity, find someone to fall in love with, but if they cannot find love, or are rejected, then they must die. And soon, Barbara must face the consequences when a young man from Fragrance, Rhythm, falls in love with her…

The story isn’t that substantial a one, nor is it a truly great one. It was, after all, a one-episode spec script, written by Moris Farhi to show the Doctor Who production team what he could do. And yet, there’s an undeniable poetry to this story that ensures that, for what it is, it’s certainly of no small quality. While I’m not sure it could ever have made the TV screen, it’s nonetheless a nice little piece of art. A shame the adaptation is more talking book than usual.

Sadly, one of the areas it does fall down in is the characterisation, though this is a symptom of both the single-episode structure, as well as the talking book-like format this adaptation has. William Russell and Carole Ann Ford do well enough in their own roles, but they aren’t as lively as some other Companion Chronicles I have heard, and both John Dorney and Helen Goldwyn are underutilised. I feel they could have filled other roles in the story. Dorney does quite well in the admittedly thin part of Rhythm, who is also the most substantial part in the story beyond the Doctor and his companions.

The story is too much like standard audiobooks, albeit with some sound effects here and there. It feels inferior to the Companion Chronicles, which is a crying shame, given the usual high standard of the Big Finish audios. So this part is a disappointment.

Overall, The Fragile Yellow Arc of Fragrance is a nice little story, nothing of real consequence. A shame a bit more effort wasn’t put into the audio adaptation, frankly, because it could have been a little better…


***
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,246
11
2,850
#17
Screw it, I can't do it based on a list. :devil:

Reviews will be posted here when I feel like it. Though it's not like any of you guys are bothering to look at this thread...
 

janet

Sergeant
Nov 14, 2009
3,082
0
2,100
North East England
#18
Quatermass said:
Screw it, I can't do it based on a list. :devil:

Reviews will be posted here when I feel like it. Though it's not like any of you guys are bothering to look at this thread...
Wanna bet, Q? ;)
 

Quatermass

Sergeant-at-Arms
Dec 7, 2010
6,246
11
2,850
#20
Penfold said:
janet said:
Quatermass said:
Screw it, I can't do it based on a list. :devil:

Reviews will be posted here when I feel like it. Though it's not like any of you guys are bothering to look at this thread...
Wanna bet, Q? ;)
I wouldn't take that bet up Q! :laugh:
Well, none of you post any replies to my reviews or anything. And I didn't bet.

Anyway, here's my latest review...

REVIEW: Doctor Who: The Evil One by Nicholas Briggs

TYPE: Audio drama

DETAILS: 4DA 4.04, 2X30 minute episodes



Bringing back the Master is somewhat hard for Big Finish, considering that of the four actors who portrayed him for the classic series, only one, Geoffrey Beevers, is still alive. Still, this means some interesting stories can be told with Geoffrey Beevers’ Master, particularly during the time of the Fourth Doctor. And sometimes, they can bring more of old companions’ pasts into the spotlight, like with Leela. So how would The Evil One fare?

Leela is having strange nightmares, where she had forced her father to die for her, when in truth, he sacrificed himself willingly. Both she and the Doctor land on the Moray Rose, a cruise-liner whose passengers have been disintegrated, and whose cargos of valuables and gold bullion have been robbed. Encountering maverick Inter-Galaxy Insurance agent Calvert, the Doctor and Leela are separated. While the Doctor and Calvert try to find a way to rescue Leela, in spite of Calvert’s pigheaded superior Arthley, Leela has been captured by the Salonu, a race of metallic praying-mantis aliens. But is everything Leela went through a lie, and is she truly the Evil One, agent of the Great Xoanon? Why is the Master masquerading as a police inspector? And what does his endgame mean for the Doctor and Leela?

The story is a fairly simple one, but a good one, for the most part. True, the monsters of the piece have pretty vague motivations, one character is wasted, and some plotlines (like why is the Master in contact with Arthley) are never explained. But ultimately, the thing that makes it worthwhile is the ending scene (albeit one that feels slightly crowbarred-in), where the Doctor and Leela clear the air between them, and Leela grows stronger despite what happened to her.

Tom Baker is pretty good as the Doctor, as usual, while Louise Jameson gets to ham it up as Leela under the hypnotic spell of the Master. Geoffrey Beevers as the Master gets some pretty good bits. But Michael Keating as Calvert is wasted, with his character all but tossed aside, and the Salonu are pretty generic monsters.

Most of this story’s sound design is quite excellent. We even have callbacks to The Face of Evil’s sound design, and the sound effects sound like they came from the era. However, a major complaint I have is the voice treatment for the Salonu: half the time (almost literally), what they say is very hard to discern, which is bloody annoying at times.

Overall, while not a great story, The Evil One is an enjoyable one all the same. A shame it wasn’t even better…


***½

If you guys are actually reading these reviews, how many of you have actually listened to the Big Finish audios?
 

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