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DWM393 - Cuddlesome

*From Wikipedia

The Fifth Doctor arrives on earth, to discover that Cuddlesomes - pink, vampire, hamster-like toys from the 1980s - are attacking people. He meets Angela Wisher, whose boyfriend (John Dixon) was attacked by his old Cuddlesome, and they investigate at the "White Elephant", the warehouse in which the Cuddlesomes are made. The Doctor discovers that a journalist, Miranda... (more)

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Review By NewWorldreviews 6/21/14 10:21 am
1 out of 3 found this review helpful.
6
Reviewer Says:
No previous stories required.
The final Big Finish DWM exclusive to be released on CD, Cuddlesome fits in more with the 60 minute subscriber specials that Big Finish dish out every Christmas, rather than the half an hour vinaigrettes that are usually supplied with DWM. It has a much deeper plot and the production is much more advanced than some of those early efforts. And with a guest cast like David Troughton and Tim West, it really makes one of the strongest freebies Big Finish has produced.

The plot is textbook Doctor Who: the TARDIS lands, and The Doctor is caught up in a mystery which needs solving. The menace is something which is everyday, but in a way a little frightening on it's own. In essence, Cuddlesome could be put in the same legue as Spearhead From Space or Blink. However, the Cuddlesome toys in this story aren't a symbol of a bright present, but rather a hazily remembered past, a menace frozen in time. And there so 80's: cuddly talking vampire hamster pretty much covers that. Apart from the bit about killing you. It's doing what Doctor Who does best: taking something everyday and turning it on it's head completely. However, it's not very often we get a similar situation to Cuddlesome, whereby it's a menace stopped by history. Now, if you know where this story came from (it was actually an old Audio Visuals play back in the 1980's, with Nick Briggs as The Doctor), then this is a nice in-joke. Obviously, the violence has been toned down since that version, but the story is very similar. Nigel Fairs is an excellent constructor of plot, really managing to keep the listener engaged with the material presented. However, there are massive issues regarding the pace. While there's nothing overly wrong with the pace of the story, it could be a little faster, especially considering the target audience of this audio. At times, it feels like it's going nowhere, just filling in the time. And nowhere is this more apparent than in the last 15 minutes, where the whole plot grinds to a hault, before resolving itself in under a minute. It's a shame, because the rest of it's so very good.

The character in this, though, are the more serious letdown. There's not really much to them, outside generic facets. The Doctor isn't written particularly with Peter Davison's portrayal in mind, while the main villain, the Tingus, is left as 'unexplored potential'. And Angela is so obviously written as 'stock companion filler', it's untrue. And sadly, both Roberta Taylor and Peter Davison don't give the material 100%. There good, just not up to the standard they could be. The remaining cast members just fade into the background and become unimportant. Even the Cuddlesome's voice become dull after a point. This really leaves our other two guest stars, Timothy West and David Troughton, who admirably step up and really get to grips with the material. West creates a brilliantly tragic character in Ronald Turvey, a character with whom I could empathise with, although maybe not completely. Certainly his point about what adults replace childish things with struck a chord with me. In the words of a very wise man, "there's no point being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes." David Troughton is also brilliant as the Tingus, the deliciously evil villain of the piece. He's more of an out and out villain, but David Troughton is so good at it, it's no wonder that he was selected to recreate the Black Guardian in the Key2Time trilogy a year later.

So Cuddlesome is a very mixed bag. It's a good story, but one let down by some sub par production elements and some very odd pacing. However, there is much worse in the Who cannon, and Cuddlesome is such fun that at only 50 minutes, it's hard for one to complain so badly.
Review By CaptFishy 1/6/14 3:51 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.
7
Reviewer Says:
No previous stories required.
This was my first ever piece of Big Finish listening, heard when it was given away with Doctor Who Magazine. Paul McGann has always been one of my most favourite Doctors, which is why I sought out the audio, (I wasnt a regular DWM subscriber).

This short story is a little simple and corny, but what comes across is the friendship between the Doctor and Charley, and their obvious joy in adventuring together - the essence of the DW companionships really. It was enough lets say to get me interested in Big Finish and to give them a try.

Now, years later, I have storage problems for the disks I've purchased, and there are still titles I want. I've also discovered great writers like Rob Shearman and Nev Fountain in the process, and expanded my enjoyment of other writers such as Paul Cornell.
Review By Polar Bear 6/5/13 6:01 am
0 out of 1 found this review helpful.
9
Reviewer Says:
Previous stories required!
The more fannish you are, the more you'll enjoy this story. Set entirely inside the Tardis, this adventure features shout-outs to past incarnations, past companions, and Tardis geography (or is that geometry?), all within a brain game that features Peter Davison at his most convincing. You'll love this if you Recommended for those who know their Who history, especially those who read the comic book adventures of the Fifth Doctor. Here's an excellent CD cover for you: http://modlounge.tripod.com/noplacelikehomefront.jpg
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