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Psychodrama has the immediate feel of a early 1990's episode Morris lays on thick dollops of nostalgic scifi that feel's of that time when Adric was around. The story itself however finds the timelord and his companions landing in a alien world where things start to feel, and sound a little too familiar. As a listener and to the observant it becomes apparent that there is a very subtle mimicry going on here that gives you the feeling that the people and places that the famous four are encountering are nearer to themselves than they realise, well that is until the Doctor realises.this for them all.
The performances here I for one was expectant after all this is the re-introduction of Adric to the timeline, so would that number crunching nerd bring that awkward feel that he did so well all those years ago, well the answer is that hats off to Matthew Waterhouse as he as bought the awkward teenage back to life, no mean feet for someone who is trying to act 20+ years younger than his part. I was more amazed at Matthew's ability to pull this off than I was at the character return. I don't know whether Morris as nailed the character as I remember it, I did watch a few episodes of classic Doctor to refresh my recollection of Adric. But Matthew pulls it back and it gives you a little smile. Peter is more of the 90's No.5 than when he is doing the main range stuff, which I found odd, I would have thought he would have continued with the more involved No.5 that he has been allowed to become over the last 100 odd releases in the Doctor Who from Big Finish. Whether this is a "special release" is debatable, for me it felt more like a Main Range Release, so for Big Finish to give this so much promotion I think unfortunately this first release falls a little flat. Lets hope the second one delivers a little bit more.
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.
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Iterations of I by John Dorney
This is the second story on this two production release. This is from the start a well crafted, superbly produced, wonderfully rich product you really wonder how Big Finish, can do what they do, which to to be frank, is paint the most amazing pictures in your imagination, and then tell extend the pleasure by injecting your favourite timelord without it missing a beat. This instalment is unquestionably attempting to show us that Dorney is the main man when it comes to writing some of the best Doctor Who Audio around. He has done himself no dis-service here with this outing, it like painting with the use of language, heavily textured and amazing use of grammer. The subject is highly technical in that it bases the whole plot around the ideology of numbers, having physical form or at least wanting them. The characters in this production really do shine, the supporting cast are exceptional and really dp make this drama feel more than just a standard Main Release with No.5. The introduction of Adric as well gives it that extra nostalgic feel. Judging by the time and effort alone in this release you can tell that there is a massive amount of intracate structure, the whole thing plays out for just over 2 hours long, and I for one felt like it was not a third that long. The story telling just melts away as you listen.
Peter is very much like his TV characterisation maybe hearing Adric's dulcet tones makes it feel more of its time, maybe it is the amazing use of the period, early monologue synth sounds, who knows but Peter is certainly more like his TV character than perhaps he is in the main range releases. Here he is left to explore that period of the 5th Doctor. Again the same is true of Nyssa and Tegan, the two girls come across as being friends because of their occupancy of the TARDIS as opposed to them being friends if there were not. I find the almost droid like manner of Adric very much a blast from his performance from the BBC. So for authenticity and originality then it is the Adric from old. So for preset they will love this. I for one would have liked them to explore a more developed Adric. One that has learnt from his mistakes, and, has a much more grown up, not the sort of precious teenager genius that he plays. That aside on minor criticism's this second of the two stories is 5 out of 5
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After the rather manic 'otherness' of Excelis Dawns, the second story of the Excelis arc is rather more contained than the grand scope of the preceding story, and, in many ways, it works much better than the previous story. It's far more focused on the story that it's trying to tell, rather than setting up the main storyline that runs throughout these audios. It therefore manages to be a more seperate entity than either Dawns or Decays, and therefore feels more like a normal Doctor Who story, rather than a series of events in which the Doctor is caught up with.
The plot is relatively simple, but, unlike Excelis Dawns, easy to follow. The idea of a burglary being a smokescreen for something else is an excellent, if unoriginal idea, and by setting it in a museum, it keeps it nicely contained. The whole story is set within a few rooms, and by doing that, it means that the tension is kept at a palpable level. It pushes our characters together, and forces them to clash off one another. One thing that is really kept at a high throughout this piece is the mystery. In many ways, it has a Agatha Christie-like level of mystery, and, when people start to die, it becomes even more intune with the genre. Doctor Who certainly likes to do this often, but Excelis Rising does subvert this somewhat by having a sÃ©ance to bring the dead characters back into the story. Using a sÃ©ance as a plot device is rather unique, even after the amount of Big Finish that has been and gone before, and it's nicely used here. It's actually treated as a real concept, rather than something to be scoffed at and ridiculed. It's not really explained how these spirits are summoned, but that doesn't matter, because the idea is so very good that it really works. The use of the Relic is also interesting, especially because it has slipped into legend and myth by this point in Excelis' history, but it seems to have had a massive effect upon their culture. One thing I really like about this story (and this trilogy as a whole), is that it explores the effect that the Doctor has upon the civilisations that he comes across, and, while Excelis may be more advanced than it was in the previous story, it is, in many ways, just as savage as before. David A McIntee has really created a strong and vivid world, despite it being set in only a few rooms.
While the plot is slighter than usual, this allows for some great character moments, especially between the Doctor and Reeve Maupassant. The Reeve is certainly a more interesting character than Grayvorn, mostly because he doesn't really shout, but is more menacing. It's quite interesting that he's also forced to share his mind with the Mother Superior, and some of the discussions that come out of that are novel and original. It also helps that the remaining characters are a diverse and interesting bunch, particularly the kindly professor. McIntee also has a good grasp upon the character of the sixth Doctor, never making him too abrasive or bolshie, but also never too weak or passive. Together with the strong guest cast that director Ed Salt has assembled, they make the material leep off the page. I was particularly impressed with Charles Kay and Anthony Stewart Head out of the guest cast. I'd be shocked if Head turned in a duff performance, and here, he really has a character that is not only facinating, but with some proper villainous moments, despite the madness. As for Kay, he suits the role of the Professor very well. His chemistry with Colin Baker is so terrific that when his character died, I was rather saddened. He would certainly have made for a unique and interesting companion, that good his chemistry was. The rest of the guest cast are also very good, but not on the same level. Colin Baker leads the cast superbly, really getting to grips with the material on the page. This is aided by some wonderful music and sound design, which really allows the soundscapes to come to life. I'd have to say that this disc contains some of the best work by David Darlington in the whole of the Doctor Who range that he has scored. The music in particular is so well done, with little flashes of Excelis Dawns' soundtrack, but still forging it's own identity. Bringing this all together is Ed Salt's direction. As a first start to the range, this remains a confident and slick piece of work. Ed's focus on the actors and the atmosphere really pays dividends, because it gives the story exactly what it needs, rather than wasting time upon trying to fill it with directorial trickery.
Excelis Rising is traditional, but in this trilogy, a bit of traditionalism is exactly what is needed. Excelis Dawns and Decays are rather more concerned with trying to stand out, and that's, prehaps, where there problems lie. Excelis Rising is happy to stand on it's own terms, and, with it's strong acting, excellent post production and clever direction, it's by and far the best of the Excelis trilogy.