AUDIO REVIEW: The Fifth Doctor Box Set

The Fifth Doctor Box Set
By Jonathan Morris and John Dorney 

Starring Peter Davison, Janet Fielding,
Sarah Sutton and Matthew Waterhouse

Out Now

Review by Nick Fraser

Psychodrome by Jonathan Morris
Following on from the events of Castrovalva, The Fifth Doctor’s fresh-faced TARDIS crew land inside a vast, empty cavern. Not empty for long though, as they soon discover it’s populated variously by troglodytic tribesmen, the crew of a crashed spaceship, a team of intrepid explorers, a feudal kingdom and a monastery of mathematicians. A mixed bag then and not unlike the TARDIS crew; something which becomes more significant as the story progresses.

Jonathan Morris deftly captures the still developing relations between the newly regenerated Time Lord and his companions Nyssa, Tegan and Adric. Something Big Finish does very well is to exploit the gaps between televised stories and it’s a particular treat to catch up with the TARDIS crew so soon after their escape from Castrovalva and find out how they actually feel about each other after the rush of events around The Master’s deadly plans and The Doctor’s regeneration.

Taking time to build up the mystery, it’s some way into the story before the listener discovers that the relationships between The Doctor and his companions have had a particularly significant effect on their surroundings. To paraphrase a bit of Burns, the cavernous space station they’ve found themselves in gives the TARDIS team the gift “to see ourselves as others see us”.

The slow building adventure provides the opportunity for a more detailed exploration of the sometimes brittle relations between the TARDIS quartet, a rewarding experience for the listener.  There are plenty of kisses to the past (the incidental music is a particular pleasure, evoking early 80s Who) with foreshadowing of events to come too, poignant for one of the TARDIS travellers in particular.

With an excellent (and particularly hard-working) supporting cast, this adventure slots in perfectly to existing canon.

A fantastic listen – 9/10

Iterations of I by John Dorney
Doctor Who excels in the flexibility of its story-telling.  John Dorney’s Iterations of I offers a chilling tale in a haunted house, located on a windswept island off the coast of Ireland. Set shortly after the onscreen adventures of Black Orchid, we join a TARDIS crew much more at ease with each other, operating as a cohesive team.

They discover a seemingly abandoned house, and have to team up soon after with other, recent arrivals to the island. Over the course of a dark and stormy night they have to work against time to uncover the reasons behind the inexplicable disappearance of an entire household of people, members of a cult the surviving signs of which are the still-operating computers they’ve left behind.

The ghostly story takes a turn for the even more strange though, as The Doctor, Tegan, Nyssa and Adric variously encounter and react to a completely new life form, unwittingly unleashed by the cult.  Unfortunately for the cult members they also discovered, and fell foul of, the new life form’s far more deadly predator.

John Dorney creates a smart, if challenging concept (probably best understood by those holding a badge for Mathematical Excellence), around which he constructs an atmospheric, tense story facing off the occupants of the besieged household against a seemingly indefeasible foe.

Another strong 9/10

Overall, a delight to have The Fifth Doctor back, with his original TARDIS team. Davison, Fielding and Sutton are all on top form, sending the listener back in time to the early 80s. The revelation for me though was Matthew Waterhouse, who recaptures the youthful exuberance of the gauche E-spacer perfectly. 

It’s fair to say that Adric divided opinion back in the day. Reeling from the events of Earthshock, this reviewer missed episode one of Time-Flight the following week [every cloud, eh? - Ed.].  By providing former cast members with such well-written material though, Big Finish continues to celebrate Doctor Who at its best. Hoping for more of the same…

Thanks to Big Finish

Review by Nick Fraser

I have to whole-heartedly agree with Nick here. I'm not an avid listener to the audio adventures (hence why you never see me review them) but this particular set of stories enthralled me. As my trusty reviewer states, the cast are sensational and really take you back to their era in a way no other audio cast has managed yet (for me). And that music! So perfectly composed and performed. Again, fans of the 80s will find no fault in it.

This is the first time I've ever butted in on a review but I felt I had to, just to emphasise what a great set this was. if you were ever a fan of the Davison Team TARDIS, then The Fifth Doctor box set will not fail in any way to entertain.

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