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Reviews By JMChurch25
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From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
9
Plot Rating:
9
Acting Rating:
10
Replay Rating:
9
Effects Rating:
8
Has Prerequisite(s):
Yes
Reviewed By: JMChurch25Review Date: 4/19/18 7:30 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

As the concluding story of the first Klein trilogy, 'Architects of History' is a massive story with a lot of moving parts and pieces to it. Taking place many years in the future, Klein has been busy with her own plans and has created a world more or less how she wants it. But problems have arisen in a new alien invasion with weapons of great magnitude and the return of the Doctor she knew despite her changes to the past warping his memories and everything around him. It's honestly quite a lot to handle at times especially after how the previous story ended but Steve Lyons' script works exceedingly well with everything even if it takes a couple of repeat listen of certain parts to really get it. There are big battles, major shocks, and fantastic twists associated with how much Klein has violated the timelines especially in the tense cliffhangers of each part of the story that are some of the most engaging I've heard. I haven't been so excited and antsy to continue listening to a story in a long while as I had with this one and it really stands out. I also like the alien Selachians as a concept being sort of a Judoon like race with a cooler species basing them even if their language / speech isn't nearly as interesting and they do feel like a genuine threat. We also get a lot of temporal messes and 'what if' scenarios that I won't dare spoil here with how they play out and it makes 'Architects' a bit on the bulky side but exceedingly exciting as a story. In terms of the cast and acting, Sylvester McCoy is really at his best and masterful in his Seventh Doctor here seemingly hiding behind the scenes but still influencing events a great deal to bring down this timeline. This kind of thing is truly what Seven does best and why I love his stories so much and it's fascinating to see what kinds of things he gets to do and work with here especially at the end of part 2 where he takes full control of the situation. His performance is focused, powerful, and precise with every thread he pulls and every word he speaks and it's one of the best representations of the Seventh Doctor in any audio story. Tracey Childs as Klein is at her most ruthless and cruel not afraid to abandon things if they seem to go wrong and caring even less for the people who serve and work with her. But yet her desperate true self is still there hidden beneath her mask of what she thinks is right and her final moments are appropriate and fitting given the journey she was on for the past three stories giving her a new and exciting start that I'm excited to hear continue. Once again, McCoy and Childs' interactions are the easy highlight of the story though many of the conversations do start to feel a little bit on repeated by now no matter how good they are. It's not a problem for me at all as I love those intellectual conflicts between the two but if you weren't won on it before then you definitely won't be now. The guest cast and conflicts associated with them are not as great or as interesting as our Doctor and companion and the Galactic Reich not nearly as strong as the Third Reich (despite the fact that they do have some cool parts around them like Dalek propulsion systems in their ships) which does cause the story to suffer a little bit. The soundscape continues to be great and everything else to create an action-packed and yet subtle conclusion. In the end, "The Architects of History" is definitely as good as "Survival of the Fittest" but not quite as strong as "A Thousand Tiny Wings" and it's definitely a stronger piece that's not for everyone given the stronger and somewhat downbeat ending. But it works as a fitting piece for the Seventh Doctor, as a lesson for us a listener about not getting what we want and changing time too often for our own ends, and especially for Klein and her superb character.  
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
2
Plot Rating:
1
Acting Rating:
4
Replay Rating:
1
Effects Rating:
2
Has Prerequisite(s):
No
Reviewed By: JMChurch25Review Date: 4/19/18 2:51 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

It's hard to imagine a Seventh Doctor TV story worse than 'Time and the Rani' but honestly and shockingly "Delta and the Bannermen" somehow fits the bill. At least 'Rani' had some interesting things about it that saved it a little even if they weren't executed all that well. 'Bannermen' doesn't even have that going for it and re-watching it again its reputation is very well earned. The plot as best as I can figure out centers around the Chimeron princess Delta being pursued as the last of her kind by the evil Bannermen who want to kill her for.....some unknown reason that I couldn't figure out watching other than just being evil. If you are looking for some sort of motivation or background to these characters and why they have such animosity towards each other, you aren't going to find it here. Meanwhile the Seventh Doctor and Melanie join a group of tourist aliens on a tour of the Earth and get stuck in 1959 in a run-down holiday camp where they end up finding Delta and get involved in said conflict along with a 50's biker girl named Ray, a young man named Billy with an out of nowhere attraction to Delta, two American spies looking for a downed satellite, and a weird old beekeeper who seems to only be there to spout weird wisdom that relates to the Chimeron culture. How all these things tie together I really have no idea and I'm not sure the story itself does either. Trying to untangle and care about what is going on is next to impossible especially as we never find out more about any of the characters the plot centers around other than surface level impressions. There are also so many things that simply don't make sense at all like the completely out of left field romance between biker dude Billy and Delta, the purpose of why the American pair are in the story at all, and especially how and why this conflict is important or worth caring about. It makes the story an unpleasantly boring slog and all of the other flaws in the story certainly don't help. For one thing, I hate the 50's setting partially on a personal level and partially because it's cheesy, overblown, and really doesn't serve the story's purpose. For another, the design of this story is simply awful. Everything from the creature design of the tourist aliens to the costume designs of both the Bannermen and Delta are over the top and silly-looking. I could go on and on about all of the problems this one has but what about what's good? Well Sylvester McCoy is certainly trying his hardest and you can continue to see his character growing in confidence and ability in this story. He gets all the best lines and moments in the story though that's really not saying much when everything else is so bad. I really also like the character of Ray in this story. A Welsh biker girl that feels like a prototype for Ace with a sweeter edge to her, she and Seven have a really nice connection and I could totally see them working as a TARDIS pair. You can tell that the producers were prepping for Mel's departure next story (who by the way is at her worst here with nothing redeemable to go off of) and playing around with different ideas on who would work with Seven. Other than that.....the scenery is nice at times I guess and the production design is OK for the most part. But that's honestly about it. I can count the good things of this story on one hand compared to needing my entire body to describe the bad things. In short, "Delta and the Bannermen" is a waste of time and energy and if I had to pick a low point for the Seventh Doctor on TV, this story would definitely be it. Thankfully it doesn't tie into anything related to future Seventh Doctor adventures or stories so I'm glad to say you can safely skip this one and leave it to the oblivion it deserves. 
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
8
Plot Rating:
8
Acting Rating:
9
Replay Rating:
7
Effects Rating:
7
Has Prerequisite(s):
Yes
Reviewed By: JMChurch25Review Date: 4/18/18 8:51 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Continuing on from the threads of "A Thousand Tiny Wings", 'Survival' takes a hard left turn into something completely different and brings the Seventh Doctor and Klein to an extremely weird world for some tense twists and turns. Arriving on an alien planet populated by the insect-like Vrill as well as humans encroaching on their territory, Seven and Klein of course begin interacting with the alien creatures and do their absolute best to intervene with them in a positive manner especially with a dark threat on the horizon threatening the entire colony. But humans are meddlesome creatures and Klein is waiting for her moment to strike.....Survival is a very traditional sci-fi story on the surface with our Doctor / companion pair engaging with the alien culture and the conflicts associated therein especially in regards to the mysterious Winterlack. The soundscape and world are very interesting with the Vrill being one of the more creative hierarchical bug races of Doctor Who. I love how they communicate and associate things with sound and smell and their voice is modulated in an extremely cool way that makes them fascinating to listen to and somehow kind of engagingly sweet. Granted their repeated phrases can get a little annoying at times but for me it just adds to the alien nature of their race and there are some great twists associated with them that make the situation tricker than it first appears on the surface. Things take a turn for the worse however both literally and metaphorically once Klein finds out more about what the Winterlack actually are and it all leads more or less where you'd expect from there especially as the Doctor and companion are once again seperated in a trope that I'm rapidly getting sick of. McCoy's Seventh Doctor is good as always and I love how the Vrill associate his scent with "helping, healing, and information" which was a great and comforting touch and he gets his share of twists and moments associated with his incarnation of course but he's not the primary focus of the story. The biggest strength here is of course on Klein and her relationship with the Doctor. Tracey Childs continues to improve on her character and give a much more nuanced performance each time really enhancing her character for the better. You continue to want to like and sympathize with her through her journey in her brightest and darkest actions no matter if you agree or disagree with her and she continues to get stronger with every audio. Seven and Klein are very warm with each other at first and we actually get to see Klein travelling and at times even enjoying herself a little bit with the Doctor especially at the beginning. But of course everything goes wrong with the two and that's primarily where the intrigue and drama of the piece lies. Lies are told, sides are taken, and the ultimate conflict is at once intense and jarring with the term hypocrite being thrown around on both sides leading into a final opportunity that Klein immediately jumps on. While none of the elements here come together quite as strong as they did in the previous story, "Survival" is still a damn enjoyable tale. It's somewhat shorter than any of the other stories thus far due to the presence of "Klein's Story" that comes with this set but I actually sort of like that as it keeps the pacing tight and the plot focused rather than meandering off into any unnecessary plot threads as Main Range stories tend to do occasionally. With an intense cliffhanger and a betrayal leading into the next story extremely nicely, "Survival of the Fittest" is definitely a powerful tale overall and a strong continuation of Klein's story.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
8
Plot Rating:
8
Acting Rating:
8
Replay Rating:
8
Effects Rating:
8
Has Prerequisite(s):
Yes
Reviewed By: JMChurch25Review Date: 4/18/18 3:27 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

A short little audio released with the next Klein story "Survival of the Fittest" that picks up right where 'Wings' left off, "Klein's Story" is nonetheless important in showing us the backstory of Elizabeth Klein and how she ended up in 1944 with the TARDIS in tow. It's a piece that is hard to talk about without spoilers so I will try to avoid any direct details in this part but I will say that it answers a lot of questions and it's nice to actually hear these events play out as told by Klein herself to our Seventh Doctor. It fills in a lot of gaps, builds on what's been set up before and sets Klein up for future stories in the process while giving us a soundscape and plot that's nothing out of the ordinary for Big Finish but certainly enjoyable. It brings a lot fascinating insight into who Klein is as a person since we haven't seen much of her before her obsession with her own timeline and it allows Childs to continue expanding her acting in the character and bring us some new aspects to her. Rupert Wickham as Major Faber is fine and while Johann Schmidt's true identity will be fairly obvious especially if you know the actor playing him, it's still a great and interesting touch and his personality is kind and warm despite the situation he's in as it should be for the character. I also love that the Seventh Doctor's fate in this timeline is eerily similar to his fate in our timeline. It's a nice touch and so accurately poetic. At times, it doesn't necessarily feel entirely needed especially as we've already heard it told so well in other previous stories and it's obviously a tad on the shorter side but it works amazingly well for what it is and it's a short but thoroughly enjoyable listen with an ending that is perfect not only for Klein but also for the Doctor as a character.

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