4 out of 4 found this review helpful.
In complete contrast to The Foe From The Future, The Valley Of Death is completely zany. The plot is all over the place, with so many ideas any sain adaption would have stripped all of them out. But Jonathan Morris is frankly too clever a writer to do that, and instead manages to meld all of these ideas together to create a lively, engaging story. Sure, the plot is ludercrous, and at times the story feels like it's simply telling us what's happening, rather than conveying the events naturally. However, The Valley Of Death finds a more natural home on audio than it every would have done on television. The villain, Godrin, is so over the top it's untrue, but it feels in keeping with the light tone of the story. Nothing feels like it takes itself too seriously, which helps it suceed. Were it not so flippant with it's logic and tone, I doubt the story would have stood up to a lot of scrutiny. There are some beautiful images in this story: the eponymous Valley, the Luron mothership over Windsor Castle, the Sun Chamber etc.. Sure, a few ideas feel borrowed from the stories that Hinchcliffe produced, namly The Face Of Evil, Terror Of The Zygons and The Android Invasion, but these are twisted in a different way to how the TV stories were that it's enough to see them as distinct enough to stand on their own. Admitly, the story is weakened by the sudden shift in setting in episode 3, and it does make the title utterly redundant, but these never harm the story too much, and the Douglas Adams feel runs throughout it. Tom Baker and Lousie Jameson are the clear standouts here, putting in two great performances, really just having fun with the material. It's one of Tom Baker's most light-hearted portrayals of the fourth Doctor at Big Finish, but it fits in really well with the tone of the story. Louise is a riot too, being allowed to lead whole parts of the story away from the Doctor and working out bits of the plot. The rest of the cast are serviceable, although I did like Nigel Carrington's really hammy performance as Godrin. It just felt utterly of the time, but there was always enough menace behind the lines so as not to weaken his stature. Mind you, I did think that Jane Slavin did lay the American accent on a little bit thick with her rather outlandish speech. Ken Bentley's direction was excellent, and while I liked Andy Hardwick's music and sound design, to me it didn't really feel 'of the period', which was something I wasn't as taken with. However, while Valley Of Death has a few issues, it's still a really enjoyable story, with plenty of laughs and two great lead performances.