0 out of 0 found this review helpful.
I have been constantly disappointed with the fourth doctor adventures, it could be because they are very short, just just not as interesting. Perhaps its just a simple matter of high expectations. Tom was considered the best of all doctors, still is for some, sadly the lack luster fourth doctor adventures have at best been only mildly interesting.
This story however is a great relief and finally does the Fourth Doctor right. the soundtrack, romana & k9, tom's witty remarks. the atmosphere, everything you could possibly want. this is probably as close we are to getting a true fourth doctor episode. and lets give a round of applause to the orgons!!! Long since forgotten doctor who henchmen. The play upon their stupidity is actually amusing. most cases these gags could have been unbearable, but in this case it works well.
My one hope is that they can dig up Roberts to write more 4th doctor adventures, because it's so refreshing to have someone get it right for a change!! Thank you big finish! you earned your money on this one!
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.
No previous stories required.
After the sucess of Love And War and The Highest Science, it's no wonder that Big Finish are really stepping up their novel adaptations to a full blown range. And it was rather natural that the fourth Doctor Gareth Roberts novels would be among the first to get the full on treatment. And, having not read the original novel, The English Way Of Death's audio adaption is a curious beast. On the one hand, it's an enjoyable romp that has some really well placed Douglas Adams-like humour. However, it also has some severe pacing issues, with the story skipping along far too quickly in some parts, and slowing down to a snail's pace in others. These little things overall detract from the great ideas at work here, especially as the humour is very well placed.
The plot may be slighter than anything you may find in the main range, however that doesn't mean that it's any less interesting. The idea of a group of people who travel back in time to live out their twilight years, and then an alien gestalt intelligence using that time corridor is a good setup for a story. There's plenty to like about the ideas involved in the story, but they are encumbered by the inconsistent plotting that the story faces. The story itself jumps about in time a lot without a by or leave really, meaning that it's quite easy to get lost if someone isn't carefully listening to the story. Part one, for example, moves about so drastically that, on first listen, I really was lost. And part three is so slow that most of it is merely exposition. And the pacing can only really be blamed due to John Dorney's adaption, which may or may not reflect the nature of the book. However, what seems more likely to me is that Gareth Roberts' book simply couldn't be cut down to fit two hours with some drastic edits. After all, these stories did start their lives as novels, so it's natural that their maybe some difficulty in getting these stories down to the appropriate time length. It's a shame, because, as I said earlier, there are some really good ideas here. The villain of the piece, Zodall, is perfectly in keeping with the villains of season 17, like Scaroth or Tryst. It's completely over-the-top, but still manages to feel as though it's a incredibly dangerous menace. The descriptions of the decaying zombies are really quite graphic, and the images in the special edition CD booklet are just as graphic. And the story really evokes the humour of one of Doctor Who's funiest script editors, even causing me to directly laugh out loud at times. It helps to make it a pleasent listen.
Mind you, one area of the story which consistently excellent is the characterisation. The characters are a diverse and interesting bunch, and they are all different in a variety of ways. Some of them like Percy and Colonel Radlet are outrageously outlandish, but their never completely over-the-top. This is contrasted by the rather down to Earth characters of Stackhouse and Julia, which is a nice contrast. Stackhouse, in particular, is a character who seems out of place with some of the others, however it works because his menace feels very real. A lot of that may be down to Terrence Hardiman's excellent potrayal, who really gets the character down to the ground. They say that villains are the best roles to play, and Terrence certainly gives that impression. His second-in-command, played by Derek Carlyle, doesn't get as much air time, but is still a very meaty part, and Carlyle puts the right emphasis in the right places. As for the aforementioned Percy and Radlet, Tim Bentinck and Richard Braine are brilliant, keeping just on the right side of camp, but never completely serious. The rest of the cast are brilliant too, but their parts are rather small by comparison. As for our leads, well blow me down, if Big Finish haven't turned back the clock to 1979! Tom and Lalla may have had their differences over the years, but, despite this, they've slipped effortlessly back into the old groove, really nailing the dynamic between the two characters. Yes, their seperate for most of the story, but they have really got back into the swing of things quickly, getting straight back into the dynamic as if they've never been away. And even K-9 (who let's face it hasn't been treated very well by Big Finish, since he's been smashed by a Laan, abandoned in the Axis and still not given a Companion Chronicle of his own) gets a lot to do, and even at one point gets possessed. It certainly feels like Big Finish have finally got an idea of what to do with him, even if it's based on a twenty year old novel. John Leeson is incredible, and just goes to show how lucky we are with his vocal talents. Nick Briggs once again gives a very taught direction, especially since a more overt comedy isn't the sort of story that Briggs often gets (I think the closest was Fourth Wall), and Jamie Robertson gives us some excellent sound design and music. Generally, production wise, this story is fantastic.
Sadly, this story is let down by the problem that can afflict any of these novel adaptions: that cutting material can cause pacing problems. While (by and large) Love And War and The Highest Science avoided this, The English Way Of Death's greatest flaw is them. And it's a shame, because if the story didn't suffer from the problems that it does, then it would definitely be a contender for the best novel adaption so far. As it is, it's a great story that is massively undercut by it's principle flaw.
3 out of 3 found this review helpful.
What a real cracker of a story - excellently written, excellently paced, excellently enacted, and the sound design is very effective and immersive. The story is very mathematics-based, suiting the return of Adric, I suppose - the story manages to be both simple and smart, and to feel plausible. It moves along with great energy, and it never appeared to drag at any point, for me. This is the kind of story I would recommend to people new to Big Finish audios, as a way to introduce them to the kind of quality Big Finish can produce. A really solidly entertaining story.
I think looking at this box set overall, this story is the stronger one of the two. However, I rated the other story (Psychodrome) a 9, so that story is no slouch either! The whole set is a great reintroduction to the classic crew of that period. Highly recommended.