2 out of 2 found this review helpful.
No previous stories required.
Well, The Ultimate Adventure is one of those stories that is, well, bloody unusual. It's a little crazy, all over the place, not very deep and uttely cheesy. But despite the god awful songs, certain hammy performances and an almost pantomime atmosphere, it's fun and it's enjoyable in a light hearted sort of way. It's so light hearted that, in a way, no Doctor Who fan could take it seriously, which sadly means that it is never quite the blockbuster it could have been.
The plot itself is pretty straightforward, but I think in the case of a stage show like this, I feel that to go all out and adding layers to the script would have been a mistake. With this story (and both Seven Keys To Doomsday and Curse Of The Daleks), it feels more like a recreation of a historical document, rather than any sort of newly written Doctor Who story. Therefore, I think that had any liberties actually been taken with the script, it wouldn't be what it should be. Admittedly, all the different dangers start blurring into one and they therefore don't feel really threatening enough to make much of an impact. In all honesty, throughout this story, we get a feeling that The Doctor and his companions are never really in danger. The whole script has a real wink, wink feel about it, as if the danger is rather light and frivolous, despite the subject matter. There are really strong ideas behind the story, and there is some really lovely set pieces, but at times, they just seem to be there as visual set pieces. They just seem to be there to impress and it just means that there a little throwaway. It all seems frivolous and just a little bit pointless. It trivialises the whole story, and that's one of this stories major problems: the nature through which all these 'set pieces' (there hardly events) happen.
The characters are sadly paper thin. The main characters can be boiled down to this: The Doctor, eponymous hero. Jason and Crystal, classic case of hating each other, then falling in love. Karl, evil sell out mercenary, the Daleks, the big bads etc. etc. etc.. I could go on all day in this way. There characters are so paper thin that it's difficult to really get a grasp on them. Certain characters, like Zog or The Envoy just start to disappear out of scenes like there's no tommorow. As for the acting, well Colin Baker is always on fine form, as is David Banks with a gripping performance as Karl. The less said about Noel Sullivan and Clare Huckle, the better, however. They literally don't make there parts come to life as they should, which, considering that there The Doctor's companions, makes it all the more strange. The rest of the cast do little more than sink into the background. And as for the songs...well, let's just skip over those and come back to them another time. Like another time never.
I want to say, I don't dislike The Ultimate Adventure. In fact, I think it's quite a nice, romp style story. The first disc is definatly superior to the second, but if your in the mood for that style of story, than that's fine. It's probably one for the die hard fans more than the casual listener though.
2 out of 2 found this review helpful.
No previous stories required.
The last of Big Finish's range of Stageplays is quite a unique specimen. The original production of Curse Of The Daleks has very little material existing, so the release of this audio was many Who fans first chance to experience this story. And one thing that many people have forgotten about it the similarities with Power Of The Daleks and Evil Of The Daleks. A lot of people will have forgotten that there was a lot of similarities between the two TV episodes and this stageplay. There are also a few tenuous links between this and the Dalek story being broadcast at the time, The Dalek's Master Plan. This story, however, is a really good, creepy adventure, with well written characters and and strong moments that stand out in the mind.
Now unlike certain things, this script (very much like the Lost Story Mission To Magnus) is very much a child of it's time. There are certain elements, which, if it were to be staged now, would have to be adapted. However, Big Finish are trying to recreate a historical document, so to remove these elements would be a mistake. But the thing that I find more intresting is the creeping menace that the Daleks present. I always dislike stories when the Daleks are simple footsoldiers. There intelligent beings, who scheme and plot and use there intelligence to further there aims. They don't just go around mercilessly killing and exterminating, but they use people to advance there plot and aims. Since this was written by TV writer David Whitaker, it's no wonder. He knows how to use the Daleks, and then the adaption was performed by modern Dalek master Nick Briggs. Therefore a lot of the Daleks mannerisms aren't removed. Of course, the Daleks aren't the be all and end all of the story. The characters are in actual fact very intresting too. Of course, there cliched, but they are allowed to breath and become intresting. They make the mystery of Act 1 more intresting and keep the momentum going in those early moments. Nick Briggs' narration also helps with keeping the visual events obvious in the audio medium, and adds some real menace to proceedings. Nick's music also really helps to add the menace and the tension.
The actors in this are also really strong. Michael Praed is fantastic as the lead, especially because you can never know what his real motives are. He keeps himself rather veiled and disguised, but there's still a warmth there that can be drawn out. James George is such a good villain, and while he does often play the villain, he is so good at it that you can just get caught up in it. He's quite intresting, especially considering the twist involving his character. He's the last character you'd expect to be involved with this mystery. It's refreshing to get genuinely suprised like that, in true Agatha Christie style. Certainly the rest of the cast are all good (John Line in paticular, who makes his character feel a lot like Hartnell's Doctor. At times, I can imagine him saying the lines) but it's Nick Briggs who once again steals the show, not just as the Daleks, but as the narrator of the piece. He really makes it sinister and terrifying, making you truly terrified that the Daleks will come to get you. It certainly plays into that old Dalekmania fear of the Daleks coming for you. This is wonderfully aided by Briggs' creepy rendition of the Doctor Who theme, which is even more terrifying than the scary cue used in The Five Doctors.
Curse will never win any awards, and it's certainly not a patch upon Dalek Empire, Briggs' masterpiece, but it's a lovely piece of ephemera from an bygon era. But just don't forget: the Daleks are waiting...