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10/10 2/6/16 4:01 pm

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Reviewed By: doctorwhomoff on 2/7/16 6:55 am
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.
8
Overall:8Plot:8Acting:8Soundscape:8Replay:8
I really like the keys of marinus, I think the reason I enjoy it so much is because when I was a child I grew up watching a lot of "Quest" based shows and cartoons where the main characters would be searching for an item or a small piece of a large item before the bad guys could find it.

The acting is...solid all round, nothing spectacular but sometimes you can only do so much with the material you're given and while I do like this story I am not blind to the fact it is quite weak in terms of plot.

William Hartnell and Jacqueline Hill both deserve special praise however, with Jacqueline being excellent in episode two where she plays a Barbara that is on her own and on the run and William Hartnell having the strongest material in episode 5 where the doctor must try and acquit Ian.

All in all, a vastly underrated story.



Reviewed By: adamelijah on 2/6/16 10:18 pm
2 out of 2 found this review helpful.
8
Reviewer Says: No previous stories required.
Overall:8Plot:7Acting:8Soundscape:8Replay:8
1001 Nights was Big Finish annual anthology collection, containing multiple short stories involving the Doctor. This collection took a different approach as three of the stories were told by Nyssa to a Sultan, who taking a page from Arabian Nights was demanding stories about the Doctor.

All the stories work beautifully and the framing story is particularly well-written with Alexander Siddig turning in a very good performance as the Sultan. At first, it seems like this is a very simple framing device, but as the story goes on, it becomes clear that the Sultan has an ulterior motive. Sarah Sutton also has one of her best overall performances as Nyssa, and Nadim Sawalha turned in an intriguing performance, and had a beautiful scene in the final episode.

Overall, this production is a treat and a superb listen.
Reviewed By: RyanOM1991 on 2/6/16 4:01 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.
10
Reviewer Says: No previous stories required.
Overall:10Plot:10Acting:10Soundscape:10Replay:10
Thoughtful, cutting and disturbing.

Uncanny Valley picks up where The Conspiracy left off. Jack Harkness is still on the trail of The Committee. His investigations have led him to a castle in rainy Wales owned by multi-millionaire arms contractor Neil Redmond.

While it seemed he was finding his feet again as the character, John Barrowman has clearly settled back into the role of Jack Harkness. There is no doubt that this is the same character we left 4 and a half years ago. His charisma shines throughout his scenes and provides some much needed optimism to the story to balance the dark storyline.

Although it's his face on the cover, Barrowman really has the supporting role as the majority of the story is told in flashback from the point of view of Neil Redmond, played by the talented Steven Cree.

Portrayed as a lost and broken man after a car accident, Redmond is given a raw and gritty portrayal by Steven Cree. His story of a man that his peak who plunges to the darkest depths is made all the more effective by the actor'so performance. What could easily have been a smug and unlikeable protagonist is given energy and likability through Cree's naturalistic performance.

Without wanting to divulge spoilers, Cree also performs another role - that of NJ. While Cree's performance as Redmond uses naturalism to give the character a heart, flaws and soul, his performance as NJ is completely different. Cold, clinical and unsettling, the character evolves from naive and innocent to more complex and almost sadistic. The words that the character speaks are somehow rendered meaningless through their clinical tones, which is inherent to the character's chilling nature.

Although the story starts off as a typical Torchwood episode, it becomes far more involving and unsettling half way through, as it tackles some original and uncomfortable themes. It gets increasingly difficult to listen to (in a good way) but very rewarding. Redmond's fate has undoubtedly left him with some troubling issues, which makes the twisted relationship that develops with NJ unnervingly believable. The culmination of their relationship towards the end becomes even more disturbing, but was always inevitable.

It's hard to say that this is enjoyable as it's a challenging and disturbing listen, but it's highly recommended. Steven Cree has given a powerhouse dual performance, while the upbeat and charismatic support of John Barrowman provides a welcome counterpoint to the disturbing nature of the story.

It would be difficult to argue that this isn't the strongest installment yet, and it's hard to see how this can be topped. But I'll look forward to finding out.
Reviewed By: RyanOM1991 on 2/6/16 3:08 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.
10
Reviewer Says: Previous stories required!
Overall:10Plot:10Acting:10Soundscape:10Replay:10
One of the best Prisoner stories of all time.

In the original series, the strongest episodes pushed Six to the limit. This story does that more than any other.

Mark Elstob's performance is perfect - his portrayal of a man fighting to stay strong in the face of oblivion is masterfully pitched. Fury, confusion, depseration, despair - Mark Elstob effortlessly glides between these.

Sara Carver also offers a nuanced performance, giving her character a complexity that could easily have been left aside in the hands of lesser actresses. In spite of some morally questionable actions, the listener is left with no doubt that the character's intentions are good as Sara Carver offers a vulnerable but dignified take on a victim of the Village. She makes an important scene between Nine and Six very affecting by layering her character's fear and sadness with a dose of strength. Listening to the scene was heartbreaking - you'll know it when you hear it.

Ramon Tikarim is perfect as Number Two - charming, suave and sinister. His smooth tones prove to be a perfect counterpoint to his character's disguised but tangible nastiness. Offering a person opinion, his take on Number 2 is up there with that of Leo McKern. It would be a shame if this proves to be his only story.

Helen Goldwyn's diversity of performances is clearer here than ever - deranged, calculated, menacing - it seems her range is extremely broad.

Nicholas Briggs has written a masterpiece of a story. It's tightly constructed, disturbing and deeply affecting. In my opinion, easily the best of the set. While the previous two stories in the set have been well written, they essentially tell the same stories as the originals and restrict the writer's creativity. Nicholas Briggs is an extremely imaginative and thoughtful writer, so an original story where he has carte blanche to take the story wherever he wants is extremely welcome.

The sound design and music are also extremely effective, building a disquieting and unsettling atmosphere.

Overall, one of the strongest stories of The Prisoner of all time (including the original series). One can only hope that Nicholas Briggs writes many more original stories for the series.
Reviewed By: adamelijah on 2/6/16 10:18 am
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.
7
Reviewer Says: No previous stories required.
Overall:7Plot:NRActing:NRSoundscape:NRReplay:NR
This audiobook memoir by Nicholas Courtney is interesting for its insights on the filming of Doctor Who as well as on his early life. He provides an anecdote or two on each and every televised Doctor Who TV episode. It was fascinating to learn that while he was playing the Brigadier as a full-time regular that he worked as a laborer on a construction site and in a shop. It's simply not what one imagines "stars" doing. The book is very much matter of fact as he tells his life story very directly and an unvarnished fashion.

There are several areas I'd love him to have gone more in-depth on. I was particularly disappointed that he had little insight into the BBC Radio 4 or Big Finish stories he'd starred in, though perhaps the ease of recording them makes them less memorable than the long filming required for the TV show. The final hour of the book was a tad dry withits recitation of, him signing up with play touring companies and going to various cities and enjoying a nice hotel with no real incidents or anecdotes to make the story interesting or help us understand Courtney better.

Still, the early parts of the book were quite interesting. I received as a free download with Unit: Extinction and it's definitely worth listening to.

Other Recommended/Related Stories

8.1
(18)
Reviewed By: adamelijah on 2/6/16 9:51 am
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.
6
Reviewer Says: No previous stories required.
Overall:6Plot:6Acting:7Soundscape:7Replay:7
The Doctor and Ace arrive at a library where the Daleks are plotting to steal all the knowledge for their nefarious purposes. At the same time, there's something weird going on with the water with the dead appearing to come back to life.

The story has problems: The first episode moves at a snail's pace as we're given an introduction to this pretentious intergalactic library which turns out to be concerned more with hording and collecting books rather than actually reading and enjoying them. Add the Daleks in with another alien mystery creature, and space pirates, and it feels like the plot gets overloaded.

That's not to say this is a bad story. There are some great conceptual ideas that foreshadowed things that would be featured in the new series-both for good and for ill. Still, it could have been much better with more focus, and some more interesting guest characters.
Reviewed By: X-alt on 2/5/16 2:44 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.
6
Reviewer Says: No previous stories required.
Overall:6Plot:9Acting:5Soundscape:7Replay:6
When I first watched season 3, The Ark was one of my personal highlights, "The Dalek's Master Plan" taken aside (of course), because I found the story most compelling and was also really curious about Dodo Chaplet, "The Ark" being her first trip. It is also quite funny, though the precise term is "ironic", to see her compare what she sees to Earth, the fauna being obviously Earth-like (the chameleon, the monitor lizard -- the varan -- the pachyderm). The overall effect is quite destabilizing at first since the first alien thing you see is a Monoid, an alien race that is probably the saddest element about this episode, not only because of its poor haircut, but also because of its evolution and story. But there are other topics in this episode that are interesting: miniturization as a form of punishment. Dodo's chill is also a plot-triggering element, in episode 1 it is used to foster suspense, and is later used, in episode 2, as a plot twist (it becomes a "Plague"), though a very previsible one (at least for modern audiences). Steven also emerges as a thorough time and space travaler: not only does he lecture Dodo at the beginning of the story, before the Doctor appears in fact, he is also the first to directly communicate with the humans in the Ark and to establish basic contextual facts of the story, such as the time and place: the Earth is "dying" and about to be "swallowed" by the Sun.

At the end of episode 2, you even have images recorded by the long-time scanner showing the final moments of our dear blue planet. Steven accordingly deduces that the TARDIS crew has traveled "a million years" into the future (the Doctor confirms a few scene later and establishes that they have traveled "ten million years"). Interestingly, one of the characters establishes that they "left Earth one last time", which surprises Steven. These very words would open a wide field of possibilities for future episodes. Still about Steven, he is also the first medium used to introduce the Monoids, the extraterrestrial race whose story is in many respects identical -- or at least -- close to the Oods in the new series, although (unlike them) their condition as slaves is made less obvious, since they are first introduced as "friends" during the expeditive trial in episode 1 (trial which by the way foreshadows that of the TARDIS crew in episode 2), and eventually evidenced throughout the first two episodes. Moreover, Steven is put to the front of the show during the trial in episode 2. It is he who speaks of the Ark inhabitants' fears "of the unknwon". Aboard the Ark, after Steven's debriefing with one of the Guardian, the Doctor appears in a very dramatic way to ease the fears of the Ark humans. In a manner reminiscing of casual science fiction issues, the crew is confronted to a very divided society, with a group of skeptics who think they have to spread the plague on purpose, and the enthusiasts, embodied by the Commander (interestingly the first to catch Dodo's cold).

While in the first two episodes, the Ark inhabitants knew about the Daleks but had never heard (at least as suggested by the character of the Commander in the first episode) of Noah's Ark, which Dodo first mentioned when the Guardians explained what the purpose of the ship was, that is, to reach Refusis in 700 years, in episodes 3 and 4, the ship is called "the Ark". In the last two episodes, indeed, the story is continued in a very surprising and enjoyable manner: we actually see what happens 700 years later in the last two episodes and a cooler thing is that a Monoid (r)evolution: evolution because they can talk now, and revolution because they seized power. It is also revealed by the Monoid leader that the virus mutated eventually and that the Doctor did not really succeed in curing the fever, that is, undo his own misdeeds. Our first meeting with the Refusians is even more interesting: they are invisible and the Monoid known as "2" becomes even worse than the humans 700 years before for he suggests quite explicitely that the Monoids are determined to get rid of everything that is unlike them.

The line of thought here, as stated by one in the last episode, is that human beings are too blind in their faith to realize that the Monoids will not tolerate their coming on Refusis. Part of the irony here is that the audience knows they are not, except for a few devoted servants. Interesting elements in this respect include the use of invisible aliens, the Refusians, who become the victims of an alien race that used to be silent, and are used a couple of time by the First Doctor as objects of irony ("I haven't seen any") and nuclear diplomacy. All these are at the center of action during episode 4. I thought it was a shame to reveal where the bomb was as early as the first minutes of the episode, knowing that it was precisely at the center of the action. This kind of dramatic irony killed the plot... a little. Perhaps it was seen as a good means to justify how easily Steven came to discover where the bomb was.

A necessary, though unsurprising, addition in order to thicken the plot accordingly, was to shed light on the internal dissent among the Monoids over the colonization of Refusis. The overall effect, however, is that the Monoids appear as stupid strategists as conveyed by their haircut -- it becomes even more so obvious when they start killing each other. The end, however, insists on compromise and avoids the killing of all Monoids ("Unless you learn to live together, there is no future for you on Refusi says one of the natives"), which is, in other words, a proper and decent ending, though not so unusual in Doctor Who. Dodo's clothes, nonetheless, as for Steven's stripped jumper, are probably not the most surprising thing either since the end of episode 4 introduces the "Celestial Toymaker" in a very intriguing manner.
Reviewed By: X-alt on 2/5/16 2:36 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.
7
Reviewer Says: Previous stories required!
Overall:7Plot:8Acting:6Soundscape:7Replay:7
Here is a severly underrated story which begins as the story of young adults sleeping in a "spooky" crypt, a "pump house": "Well I'm not too keen on the neighbors" is probably the funniest quote in the four-episode story given that comedy is utterly absent from it. In parallel, there's the Gallifrey plot (and the noted presence of Colin Baker). An air of mystery lingers throughout the story and it took me a couple of episodes before I was able to join the two given that a great majority of the plot centers on the Doctor himself, as he reveals himself the only medium for one of his most underrated archenemy to reappear.

Highlights were the return of Time Lords as early as episode 1, and especially Omega -- came as no surprise for me, as evidenced by the costume, the fact that he comes from another "dimension", as well as the overall matter/antimatter intrigue laid out as early as episode 1 (the Doctor, however, is very long to react and identify the creature "bonded" with him) -- and the (short) absence of Tegan, giving Nyssa more screen time (I think she was left in the background in season 19 due to the presence of two other companions with an history -- something quite new for a companion at the time!) as she's the only one to attend to the Doctor when he's in trouble, both in the TARDIS (episode 1, when the "bonding" began) and on Gallifrey, where she pleads for the Doctor's innocence (episode 2) or after his mind was transferred into the Matrix, leaving him helpless and incapacitated (episode 3). Plus, we're not even sure, at least in episode 1, that Tegan will definitely come back given that, during season 19, one of her principal concerns had clearly been to go back home and be sure not to miss her professional interview at the airport she was driving to when she met the Doctor. This has changed in season 20 and she appears eager for adventure (in episode 4 she is even happy to have "got the sack") and plays the role of the leader in the Earthbound plot, especially in episode 2 (she is captured by Omega in episode 3 only to be used in order to "persuade" -- blackmail -- the Doctor).

I must say I found it an excellent episode to begin season 20, and a good episode overall, probably one of Fifth's best in terms of convincing acting and intrigue. An interesting addition to the Whoniverse was probably the introduction of the "Matrix", introduced in episode 1 and recurring throughout the story. We also learn of Leela's marriage to a Gallifreyan. What I liked about this episode is also the characterization of Nyssa, who I thought had been a bit redundant in the previous season, who is seen kicking asses in the two middle episodes... at last! More generally, episodes dealing with the relationship between the Doctor and his people are rare, and often misunderstood (as in New Who's The End of Time). When Zorac declared in episode 2 that "each and every time the Doctor returns to Gallifrey there's violence", an older Time Lord, Councillor Hedin, answers: "Perhaps it is we who should modify our approach".

It is true that the Time Lords had so far left Doctor with almost no initiative ("The War Games", "The Three Doctors" etc.): though deemed not to have been "cooperative" by Castellan in episode 2, using Romana as example, any hooked audience would remember that the first time they heard about the Time Lords was this story in which the Second Doctor is forced to regenerate and sent to Earth, or that the Third Doctor had to bargain with them after the 10th anniversary story to regain the right to travel in time and space, or that they forced him to travel to Skaro in order to destroy the Dalek in season 12 etc. This episode conveys new outlooks for the Time Lords, showing them clearly as dependent on the Doctor -- as they already were in Omega's first episode. A shame that the character of Omega is not properly explored and that he remains a 'baddy', because the existence of a Time Lord castaway in a world of anti-matter is a very interesting theme, though it was far less exploited than in "The Three Doctors".

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