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Reviewed By: newt5996 on 11/25/15 1:16 pm
2 out of 2 found this review helpful.
Reviewer Says: No previous stories required.
This audio is the official pilot for the Jago & Litefoot series of Audio Dramas and is the first Companion Chronicle that doesn't feature the Doctor in any form. Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxter reunite for a mainly stand alone story which helps reintroduce us to the pair of infernal investigators after The Talons of Weng-Chiang and introduces us to who would become a series regular, barkeep Ellie Higson played by Lisa Bowerman. Bowerman doesn't really have much to do here except introduce the story as she serves Jago and Litefoot drinks so they can tell each other their stories She handles her minimal role with aplomb which shows just how good of an actor Bowerman is.

Benjamin and Baxter also give great performances picking up right where they left off and the chemistry is still there. Andy Lane's story is an extremely intriguing one and is steeped in the Victorian setting. Basically the villains are the Autons, but made out of wood and having a human consciousness. There is also talk of black magic and the score is chilling. The way the story is told allows for some comedy interjections and of course awesome alliteration.

The only real flaw with the story is that the framing could have been done a bit better and maybe have had Ellie listening in on the story instead of being the server of drinks.
Reviewed By: NewWorldreviews on 11/25/15 12:02 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.
Reviewer Says: No previous stories required.
The first of two brand new stories created by Doctor Who producer Philip Hinchcliffe is quite simply the most Hinchcliffe-y story anyone could come up with. It has everything - creepy ghosts, a colourful cast of characters, a deformed villain. If anything, this could come across as a story very much modelled on The Talons Of Weng-Chiang, but Ghosts Of Gralstead manages to do plenty differently in order to feel like a separate story, rather than just a rip-off of the earlier source material. I thought that the directions that the story took were very interesting indeed, and it was nice to see Hinchcliffe's imagination run riot, with no budget to stop him. One thing that is really pushed in this story is the envelope regarding violence, what with Mordrega devouring human brains and a rather brutal African chief. However, I don't think it ever crosses the line, and it perfectly in keeping with the tone of the time, even if it strays beyond it content wise. I think, like The Foe From The Future, this story is well paced. However, I did feel that the story could have been a hell of a lot tighter, particularly with the diversion to Africa, which pretty much was just used to fill out episode 5. While I didn't dislike the diversion, it was essentially an extended short story tied into the main thrust of the narrative, and was also used to write out one of the characters and set things up for the last part. But the first four episodes are electric - the best fourth Doctor action since The Crooked Man. I just loved the weird fusion of Ghost Light and The Talons Of Weng-Chiang, aand that is partly down to the skill of scriptwriter Marc Platt. The story builds with mystery, keeping you wrapped up in what's going on, despite having another three or four episodes left to listen to. Mordrega is a fantastic villain, with a very clear motivation and some great scenes with both the Doctor and Sir Edward. The idea behind the character of Clementine was also very cool as well - a girl who's mind is still stuck in a place where her body is not is a really clever idea. I loved the way that the first episode introduced so many disparate elements, but, by the end of the story, it's clear how they all weave into each other. The dark humour that runs throughout the story is really well appreciated. I also really like the characters too. As I said, Mordrega and Cleme were really strong characters, as were the whole cast. I particularly liked Abasi, particularly in his sub-plot with Leela, and the two body-snatchers. They just made such a good double act, a feeling helped by their grizzly fate at the hands of Mordrega. The cast also make the best of the material too. I loved the interaction between Tom Baker and Louise Jameson, particularly in the moments when one believes the other to be dead. The raw intensity from both actors is brilliant. Carolyn Seymour is also brilliant as Mordrega, and I have to single out the work of Andy Secombe and Sean Carlsen as the wonderful body-snatchers. They really are great. In fact, the whole cast are fantastic, aided superbly by Ken Bentley's direction, which keeps the story moving along really well. This is all topped off by Howard Carter's splendid music and sound design, which is a lovely throwback to the Simpson scores of old. The Ghosts of Gralstead is no Foe From The Future, but it is a really good story that very nearly achieves perfection, but is so good anyway, it doesn't really matter.
Reviewed By: traves8853 on 11/25/15 5:35 am
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.
Reviewer Says: No previous stories required.
The Kingmaker: Nev Fountain has written one of the most complex and detailed stories that's packed full of great ideas. It's not strictly a pure historical; it's not exactly a pseudo-historical, but it does have a strong vein of comedy running through it, yet conversely, I didn't find it all that amusing but did appreciate the lightheartedness of it all. This is as close to 'Blackadder' as 'Doctor Who' will ever get.

The Doctor has a publishing deal agreed but hasn't delivered on his promise of a manuscript. He decides to investigate King Richard the Third and the Princes in the tower. The story continually manages to wrong-foot you in the most ingenious and inventive ways.

This audio should get a ten just for the performance of Stephen Beckett as, 'King Richard the Third' alone. His unique blend of cunning scheming insouciant intimidation is just probably the best performance in Big Finish ever. There are lots of great characters in this and the interplay between Peri and Erimem is fantastic. This is partly because the perspective of the story keeps changing and showing events from their perspective rather than just having them disappear when they are not with the Doctor.

I did find it a bit hard to keep at times as there was so much going on and some of the voices were a little too similar, and there are lots of characters. Thankfully, a second listen is more of a bonus than a hindrance.
Reviewed By: adamelijah on 11/24/15 6:27 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.
There are two things that make this serial must-see: The introduction of the Cybermen and the first regeneration. Given those two key ingredients, it'd be fair to expect this to be a top rated serial.

However, the execution leaves something to be desired. The Doctor and his companions Polly and Ben land the South Pole where an international space command center is run by a stereotypical American general and the Doctor and companions are confined as a twin Planet of Earth appears and the Cybermen launch their invasion.

There was something interesting things going on but until the end of the second episode, this had little to do with even the companions. Polly at one point hangs around to make coffee while the Doctor faints for an entire episode and does or says very little in each episode with the exception of one impassioned speech on emotion in Episode 2. In addition, the whole resolution to the problem of the Cybermen is really weak.

The story does have some things working for it. There's mystery in the first two episodes, and Ben does have some good action in part 3 with a terrific cliffhanger to wrap that up. And Episode 4 features the first regeneration with the Doctor urging them to "keep warm" as a final charge before going to the TARDIS and changing into Patrick Troughton. Again, not bad, but could have been better.
Reviewed By: tony1802 on 11/24/15 2:25 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.
Reviewer Says: No previous stories required.
I liked the 3 episode format. A real beginning, middle and end. It was enjoyable listening to the second episode setting up the third. Rather than rushed I felt the ending was abrupt and final which made it more satisfying.
Reviewed By: adamelijah on 11/24/15 7:04 am
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.
Reviewer Says: No previous stories required.
This story is a delightful and lighthearted tale that while being fun, never crosses the line into being absurd or campy. Strax fits right into world of Jago and Litefoot, and there's fantastic chemistry between the three leads.

The one thing I was nervous about listening to the trailer (and having seen Strax on TV is that the entire story would be one big joke about Strax's tendency to be unable to distinguish gender in humans. Yet, I needn't have worried, while Justin Richards played to this suggestion from Stephen Moffat, he didn't overplay it, thanks to a very clever scene with Ellie in the Red Tavern.

While the plot is a bit simple, the real highlight is the character interactions and they are quite fun Overall, this is a wonderful production that does a great job bringing Classic Who and the Twenty-First Century series together.
Reviewed By: adamelijah on 11/23/15 10:10 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.
"Rose" had the tough task of bringing Doctor Who to a generation of viewers who had never seen it before. The episode succeeds on several points. The establishing shots that show Rose's life prior to meeting the Doctor, the mad scene with the Doctor and Rose from Autons and Christopher Eccleston's performance which manages to combine some funny moments, but with a few signs that this is a different more damaged Doctor. As well, there's a touch of mystery about him with that brilliant monologue about the Earth spinning.

Overall, this is a very good beginning for the twenty-first century run of Doctor Who.
Reviewed By: traves8853 on 11/23/15 4:07 pm
2 out of 2 found this review helpful.
Reviewer Says: No previous stories required.
'Robophobia' has a fairly large cast with Dan Starkey, Toby Hadoke and Nicola Walker among their number. Nick Briggs wrote, directed and scored the music for this, yet I have trouble believing that because even though he is actually quite a good director and does well on the musical side; I am not a huge fan of his writing. Especially, when it comes to characters; however, 'Robophobia' has Briggs firing on all cylinders and even Toby Hadoke puts in a very good performance.

The companionless Sylvester starts this off by being quietly awesome, he creeps along corridors and skulks in the shadows; feeding information and letting people solve their own problems. This allows us to get to know the characters, and adds suspense, as we slowly piece things together. Consequently, as the shadows recede from the story we discover there is more going on here.

There is actually quite an emotive and human side to this tale, and I love the idea that the scheme isn't just about achieving a goal but the knock on consequences of 'Robophobia' and society's reaction to it, going from the repercussions going from localised to possibly epic proportions. The one problem I have with this is that anything that relies so heavily on twists doesn't have a lot of relisten value as once you have heard it the suspense is gone.