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Reviews By JMChurch25
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From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
10
Plot Rating:
10
Acting Rating:
10
Replay Rating:
10
Effects Rating:
9
Has Prerequisite(s):
No
Reviewed By: JMChurch25Review Date: 7/19/17 8:23 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

With a chilling opening to the chant of 'Die! Die! Die! Die!' as a man is shot to pieces, the Seventh Doctor and his companions Ace and Hex find themselves in 1917 France in the midst of the horrid violence of the Great War. But in a French hospital miles away from the front lines where the crew end up, the war is the least of their problems. The TARDIS team are forced to become detectives of the strangest kind, trying to find information regarding a murder that hasn't even occurred yet. While details are obviously scarce, it seems to be connected to a mysterious room in the hospital known as the Hate Room maintained by an old enemy of the Doctor's. Can Seven and team solve the mystery before the powder keg explodes and the killings begin again? This story is pure and unadulterated historical drama with little to no real sci-fi in it, something that the show used to be amazingly good at back in the day and Big Finish continues to excel at in its best moments. It also happens to be one of the best commentaries on war and its effects on the human condition that Big Finish and Doctor Who has ever done even more so than some of the War Doctor stories I've heard. The soundscape and the atmosphere of WWI is portrayed almost perfectly and it feels so viscerally real almost as if you are actually there. This makes some of the scenes of torture, violence, and hatred on display with the story so powerful and so painful to hear especially regarding what is truly happening associated with the titular Hate Room. Make no mistake when I say that this audio is a very hard but very rewarding listen for those who are invested. Everyone in the cast is great even the side cast which is rather unusual for a story like this. Sophie Aldred and Philip Olivier as Ace and Hex do suitably well in their necessary companion roles especially as things get darker and darker. Each and every soldier in this story also has an especially strong and very believable angle from the straight-laced Lieutenant-Colonel Brook and the innocent Private Taylor to the cowardly strong Lance-Corporal Burridge and the sadistic Sergeant Wood. Each character has a strong part to play in the story and it all draws you in as the best war time drama should. But it's Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor who once again steals every scene that he's in. Every moment he's in the story from his kind-hearted chats with the soldiers to his amoral investigative prowess to his outright and yet apparently understated disgust when he discovers what's going on is brilliantly portrayed and McCoy is on fine form here in one of the best stories he's ever been cast in. Everything about this story grips you and does not let go until the very end with its flaws being very minimal at best. The ties that the villain has to an audio-only Doctor Who nemesis don't seem that necessary and the story could've very well lived without them and the whole 'solve the murder before it happens' angle does get sort of dropped halfway through in favor of something else which is just good if a little less interesting. Overall though, this is Big Finish and the Seventh Doctor at their absolute best and another amazing story for me to add to my physical collection.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
9
Plot Rating:
10
Acting Rating:
9
Replay Rating:
9
Effects Rating:
8
Has Prerequisite(s):
No
Reviewed By: JMChurch25Review Date: 7/14/17 5:55 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

One thing that I absolutely love about Doctor Who Big Finish stories is their ability to go places that the show on TV wouldn't dare go. "Son of the Dragon", the villain trilogy ("Omega" / "Davros" / "Master"), "Creatures of Beauty", "Blood of the Daleks", and a good chunk of the War Doctor stories fit wonderfully in to this category and these stories remain some of my all time favorites. But in all my years of Doctor Who audio listening, I never dreamed I would listen to a story quite as dark, brutal, and intriguing like this one. If you wanted to hear what would happen if Doctor Who met 'A Clockwork Orange' with elements of '2001: A Space Odyssey' thrown in, look no further. "Red" sees the TARDIS violently hurt and knocked out of the vortex by a malevolent force and the Seventh Doctor and Mel forced to land on the Needle, a dark place out of your worst Utopian nightmares. The Needle's inhabitants have agreed to be put under the manipulative control of a computer called "Whitenoise" to control their most negative impulses through a form of embedded chip electric shock therapy. Through 'Whitenoise' constantly monitoring their thoughts, the people lose their free will but instead are supposed to gain a new layer of safety to protect society. Or so was supposed to be the purpose. Something however is going wrong and the supposedly harmless citizens have begun killing while chanting the word 'red' over and over. With the Doctor and Mel separated almost immediately, both are put in hellish situations with the Doctor implanted with a chip himself that forces him to confront his own violent tendencies while Mel is kidnapped and taken to the underground part of the city where pain and violence are reveled in regularly and celebrated as an expression of free will. Which character is really the worse off here and can the Doctor choose between saving Mel or saving the people of the city who may not even deserved to be saved? This is easily one of the most adult stories ever for Doctor Who that tackles the question 'If violence is the lesser out of two evils, does that make it acceptable?' It's a concept explored fully throughout in an intriguing story and plot taken straight from some of the best dark sci-fi stories. The atmosphere and soundscape is gritty as hell right out of the bleakest dystopian novels accentuated by a creepy as hell soundtrack. I honestly felt like I was listening to a Doctor Who version of some of the dark YouTube channels (Rob Dyke, Chills, etc.) I'm fond of watching during the day. There are many moments that genuinely disturbed me from the Doctor's screams as he's being chipped to the sounds of all of the murders and violence being committed and especially for the people who genuinely like it in the dark city and it's made all the stronger for it by making this one extremely memorable. This story is a major tour de force for the Seventh Doctor. McCoy manages not only to be sympathetic but also utterly terrifying in some of his worst and most intimidating moments ever given to the character. It gives an interesting stance for him to take in defending people's rights to hurt each other as the Doctor has always been opposed to violence in any form and watching the Doctor succumb and work with his darkest and most violent influences is scary as hell especially for this particular Doctor. I will admit though the constant rolling of the Rs with McCoy accents is a tad annoying at times but not enough to where I didn't enjoy it at all. Bonnie Langford as Mel is also amazingly good here as she confronts some truly dark and uncomfortable moments with her character especially in the second half. She almost seems like the wrong companion for this kind of a dark story as it almost fits better with Ace or Hex but it still works here in a different way precisely because she's normally so positive and so bright and her presence in this story is fascinating if not necessarily good. The rest of the cast is good and everyone works to bring this story up to a high level. I would say that this one does have a few minor problems that do bring it down from being an absolute masterpiece. There is a lot of technobabble that can be a little distracting and a tad hard to follow and the ultimate villain of the master computer is a little bit standard and unsurprising in the worst way. But these are minor flaws in a very solid core that will really make you think before the end. There aren't many Classic Who Big Finish stories that I buy on full CD simply because there are way too many that I enjoy and love and that collection would be absolutely vast. A story has to be either a strong New Series audio or an absolutely top of the range, intriguing, or powerful Classic audio for me to have a CD copy of it. After listening to this story.....I think I have a new one to add to that physical collection.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
7
Plot Rating:
6
Acting Rating:
8
Replay Rating:
7
Effects Rating:
7
Has Prerequisite(s):
No
Reviewed By: JMChurch25Review Date: 7/13/17 9:33 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

The Doctor and Romana II are back on Baker street and trying to relax and integrate with the culture a little bit more. But they get a nasty little surprise when an archaeological dig uncovers a mysterious power pack buried among relics dating all the way back to the Bronze Age. As the duo get involved and investigate it's discovered that the power pack belongs to the Movellans, the archenemy of the Daleks buried right along side the artifacts. Their ship is buried underground and they are slowly waking up and coming to the surface with a new weapon that could end their war with the Daleks forever....as well as obliterate anyone who happens to cross their path. I was very curious about this story as the Movellans are monsters that do deserve some attention especially with their war with the Daleks in the Classic Series. They have an interesting look behind them and their appearance in Series 10's "The Pilot" added some extra credibility to them that I was hoping Big Finish would explore. Sadly that's not really the case here. The Movellans make for a strong villain and their plot is suitably grand and epic but they once again don't really get the depth that they need to be interesting although we do find some more interesting information that does change them around a bit. Essentially, 'Grave' serves as a very boilerplate alien invasion story that just happens to have the Movellans as the stand in foe. That's not to say that it's a bad story by any means. Tom Baker is once again great as the Doctor with Four at his most alien and his most grandiose than I've heard in a long while and Lalla Ward really dazzles and shines again as Romana II. For some reason, she really sounds like herself in this story more than in some of her other Big Finish stories especially recently. Maybe it's the inflection in her voice, perhaps her tone that's sarcastic and yet cheeky, perhaps its just me. I'm not exactly sure but I really love Ward in this one. The side cast is good, the soundscape fine, and while the plot and script is a little bit on the boring side it did hold my interest all the way through and keep me going. Honestly the biggest problem I had with this one was just that it doesn't do quite as much as I would've wanted with a not often explored foe. For those of you who don't know who or what the Movellans are, then this one is a pretty good starting point though I would still recommend 'Destiny of the Daleks' over this one. Otherwise, it's a fine story and a good listen for an hour. 
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
10
Plot Rating:
10
Acting Rating:
10
Replay Rating:
10
Effects Rating:
10
Has Prerequisite(s):
Yes
Reviewed By: JMChurch25Review Date: 6/26/17 8:21 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

This episode (and its subsequent follow-up I'm guessing) is one of those episodes where giving any full details of the story itself will be giving major spoilers away and potentially ruin your enjoyment of the episode so I will do my best to be vague minus the image above and one or details. But needless to say this is one of the absolute best penultimate episodes of Doctor Who I've ever seen as well as one of the best episodes of the show ever. Period. Following up from last week, the TARDIS team land on a spaceship trapped near a black hole in order to give Missy a chance to be what the Doctor wants her to be. But something horrible happens that upsets plans and it's up to the Doctor and team to solve things. But something dark and disturbing is lurking in the bowels of the ship that has the potential to upset and change everything. And honestly saying more than that would be doing a disservice to you the viewer but needless to say if you have listened to the Big Finish Doctor Who audio 'Spare Parts', this one will seem awfully familiar. If you have been paying attention to news at all, then you'll know (and I don't feel bad giving this away since it's been advertised heavily) that this episode features the return of both John Simm's version of the Master as well as the Mondasian Cybermen on screen and needless to say that it's all done beautifully. The Mondasian Cybermen are not only featured heavily but focused on intently especially when you realize what's truly going on and John Simm's return is not only chilling as hell but also so fitting for the Master's character as a whole even though I could see it coming a mile away. It's a bit of a slow reveal and I think it works better if you have no idea what's coming but it's still a huge shock and the ending had me punching the air and freaking out completely. One thing that surprised me however was the beginning minute of the episode itself as well which had me screaming 'WTF' and had me rewinding to make sure I hadn't missed that. It's a brilliant setup and ending of course but how does the rest of the episode hold up even without the big reveals? Honestly, I loved every minute of it and it's hard for me to find any real fatal flaw with it. While it's true that it's basically 'Spare Parts' on screen, it's done so well that I honestly didn't care. The sci-fi concepts are great, the cinematography dark and unsettling, and the acting great from all fronts. The flow and feel of the episode is tense, atmospheric, extremely claustrophobic especially if you have a major fear of hospitals, and honestly really scary. There are some lines that are right on par with some of the most heartbreaking and scariest lines of Doctor Who such as 'Are you my mummy?', 'I don't want to go', 'Rose Tyler I.....', and many others and this one has lines that I think will be remembered too. But it's also genuinely funny and heartwarming at times especially in the moments where Bill and the Doctor are together at the beginning talking about the plan and the plan itself before it all goes horribly wrong. Some of the shocks in this one especially in the beginning will knock the wind right out of you and combine this with the darkness of the episode and it's genuinely horrific to see. I honestly don't want to say much more because honestly this is one that you need to see for yourself. I honestly really wish a lot of the pre-publicity hadn't spoiled so much of this one because this one would've been so much more shocking if not for that. But for what it is, it's still damn good and for me a high water mark for 12 as well as for the series. With the finale set and ready....I'm honestly not 100% sure I'm ready for this.

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