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Reviews By JMChurch25
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Latest Community Reviews

From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
6
Plot Rating:
7
Acting Rating:
8
Replay Rating:
6
Effects Rating:
6
Has Prerequisite(s):
Yes
Reviewed By: JMChurch25Review Date: 6/26/19 8:59 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Still reeling from the loss of Braxiatel seemingly lost to time forever, "Annihilation" sees different priorities beginning to take hold place especially in the face of another more horrific and somewhat primitive alternate Gallifrey. In an iteration covered in literal darkness, a different variant of the Time Lords are still fighting the Vampires of ancient lore in a timeline where Rassilon betrayed his own people in exchange for immortality from the Great Vampire. It's led to a nasty perpetual war that's about to come to a head and Romana, Leela, and Narvin are about to be thrust right in the middle of things with long-lasting effects to come for better and for worse.

In many ways, this story succeeds a bit more than was led to believe considering the reviews of others who tear it apart. The darker atmosphere implied by the premise is handled beautifully and the whole affair feels like "State of Decay" done in a more Gallifrey-like style. It's a nice callback and vision into the darker wars in the normal timeline of the show only hinted at previously albeit with some different twists that do work in the spirit of the moment.

The cast also continues to be good especially with some cool guest appearances backing it up. Lalla Ward doesn't get quite as much to do as the story necessitates especially in the climax but Louise Jameson and Sean Carlsen finally get paired together in a way that starts to bring out some respect between the two and it's nice to see them work together without wanting to rip each other's throats out. Leela also gets some significant character development in a big reversal that's a little disappointing at first but doesn't affect the quality of things too much. Geoffrey Beever is absolutely perfect with his sultry and sinister voice as the malevolent head Vampire pitted against Katy Manning who gets to stretch her acting as an ambitious alternate Borusa.

With all of that said though, it's still a bit hard to deny that the writing on this is a major step back. There is no real drive behind what's going on especially with tedious pacing issues and it all feels like a needless way to get some more development thrown in for our leads before the end. It has the same minor issue as the previous two stories in that it doesn't feel like it progresses things much but at least the other two had a decently told story with some passion behind it. While both sides of the conflict are defined well, neither of them are particularly memorable and most of the interesting events seem to happen in the background more than anything else. It doesn't kill the story per se but it does shoot it in the foot considerably making it's narrative more of a slow limp than a straight forward walk.

It's a shame because all of the pieces are there for this one to be another classic and it does deliver a bit more than was expected going into it. But "Annihilation" is definitely a weaker installment in the saga especially when compared to the outright tour de force of its predecessor and it succeeds more in exhausting you rather than exhilarating you with its ideas which is a bad sign going into the final story. 
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
10
Plot Rating:
9
Acting Rating:
10
Replay Rating:
10
Effects Rating:
9
Has Prerequisite(s):
Yes
Reviewed By: JMChurch25Review Date: 6/25/19 4:35 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

"Disassembled" continues the alternate Gallifrey storyline started in the previous story with Romana, Leela, Narvin and K9 investigating another iteration while Braxiatel stays behind to keep an eye on things in the Axis. But trouble strikes almost immediately in this much darker reality as the group is separated in the middle of a chase and Leela is captured by a nasty interrogator version of herself. Meanwhile, an old friend makes a surprise appearance in a very different form and seems more than willing to help. With an alternate version of the Doctor on board to help, it seems that progress may be made to stabilize things for the better but a mysterious burn edict has been issued, a revenge plot is at play, and not everyone is going to last this time.

The script by Justin Richards presents another intriguing Gallifrey where the Time Lords have absolutely no qualm about changing the timelines to suit their own design. It's not dwelled on or examined quite as much as "Reborn"'s capitalist Gallifrey and the soundscape is fairly minimal to where it's more described and now shown but it still works as a great setting and especially as a mask to hide the true intention of the story which rears it's ugly head once Colin Baker enters the picture. This is another adventure where part of the surprise is integral to the plot but needless to say the writing is fantastic in all places and it's perhaps the saga's most interesting installment yet.

This comes down mainly to the character work and the bigger plot points that feel perfectly in line with what has come before. Lalla Ward and John Leeson continue to be great as always but this time it's Louise Jameson's Leela who gets to play with an alternate version of herself albeit a less primal one that's a much farther cry from the one we know. The way the two versions play off each other is utterly fantastic and it's nice to see Leela forced to confront that nastier aspect of herself that could've come out had she had different influences around her.

But the surprising star of the show for the second half is Miles Richardson's Braxiatel who gets another bit of development that ties directly into the series in a fascinating way that deserves to be kept a secret. It adds another layer to the already mysterious origins of the show itself and it's a major treat for longtime fans especially given the way the audio ends leaving things with his character. As to Colin Baker's reappearance as an alternate Doctor, let's just say there are multiple layers to his performance that aren't obvious on the surface and are again not worth spoiling. All that will be said here is that Baker is fantastic as usual in terms of performance and he's a great temporary addition to the team. 

You could certainly nitpick this one to death in terms of minor details and it does leave the central premise behind fairly early on for something much more intimate which you could technically count as a flaw. It also does feel like more of a runaround than any of the other Gallifrey audios so far with not much gained or advanced in the long run. But in giving us a dramatic character piece with characters we know and love and all of the fun ideas and revelations with it, "Disassembled" is damn close to perfect and another major highlight for the series in a way that "Spirit" ended up being for Season 2. Granted it does require extensive knowledge of everything else going on to work but with all of that in mind, it's by far the most fun the series has had in a long while and one that alone is worth the price of admission to the set. 
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
8
Plot Rating:
8
Acting Rating:
9
Replay Rating:
8
Effects Rating:
7
Has Prerequisite(s):
Yes
Reviewed By: JMChurch25Review Date: 6/24/19 5:57 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Picking up more or less where the last series left off, Season 4 of Gallifrey sees Romana, Leela, K9, Narvin, and Braxiatel time scooped into the Axis, a nowhere space where all of the truncated realities (created by the Time Lords or otherwise) are contained and maintained. This happens to include any different iterations of Gallifrey and it's not long before the group stumbles into a much more capitalist version of Gallifrey where things are run like an industry, regenerations are bought and sold freely, and Leela and K9 especially are getting plenty of attention as the seekers of the Key to Time. All the while, an older version of Romana is looking for answers of her own about the murder of her husband.

Things are about to get complicated indeed and "Reborn" definitely makes a strong go of shaking things up while staying true to the spirit of the saga. While it quite literally jumps into the new setting with not much buildup to get there, it turns into the first of several alternate universe stories ones that the characters we've been following get to experience along with us the audience. In that way, it almost immediately takes some ideas from the Unbound range but not in a way where it's a total throw into the deep end (at least not yet). With this story, the big change is the way Gallifrey is led almost like a company with the name "Gallifrey Incorporated" being thrown around left and right as a way of hammering in what's different. It's not a huge switch with the setting and soundscape remaining familiar and strong but there are lots of little intricate details that make it a fascinating listen. Credit goes to both Gary Russell's direction and Gary Hopkins' writing for making it all work as well as it does and it's a fascinating skewed mirror compared to what we are used to.

The cast of this world are also different but familiar and tie intricately into where things are at with our mains. It's a bit strange to have Leela and K9 be the weak link forced into a position of power they weren't prepared for that feels like a retread of moments from previous seasons. But it's a lot of fun listening to Lalla Ward interact with a sort of housewife wine-drinking version of her former self (once again played by Mary Tamm) who is strong but in a much more subtle way. Miles Richardson's Braxiatel is his usual charming self, there's a nice if predictable twist surrounding Conrad Westmaas' Antonin, and Sean Carlsen's Narvin gets another strong performance especially in one dark moment that affects him drastically for the future.

While it does feel a tad throwaway and doesn't do much to advance the overall narrative of what's being accomplished, it's hard not to see how things are starting to affect our team and it's going to be a long road before things feel normal in our timeline again. With that being said, "Reborn" is a very enjoyable if messy Gallifrey story turning things around while re-establishing the status quo for the future. It may not work as well for those looking for the tighter and more narrative-driven arcs of prior seasons but it's still an engaging romp with some consequences that should lead to some intriguing moments for the rest of the season. 
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
4
Plot Rating:
5
Acting Rating:
5
Replay Rating:
4
Effects Rating:
6
Has Prerequisite(s):
No
Reviewed By: JMChurch25Review Date: 6/19/19 8:16 pm
3 out of 3 found this review helpful.

"Driving Miss Wells" sees the return of Trinity Wells, a newsreader who gained minor fame and prominence during the Tenth Doctor era. You'd usually see her at least once during the bigger stories of the era though we haven't seen her officially since Series 4 of New Who and "Torchwood: Children of Earth". So it's a little bit of a surprise to see her returning (once again played by Lachele Carl) and starring alongside John Barrowman no less. "Driving Miss Wells" certainly starts off on a promising note with Jack serving as her new chauffeur during her journey through various events. Having left AMNN and lost faith in the news general specifically because of all of the seemingly insane world-ending events, it's not hard to see that she's suffering and in a difficult place in her life. But when she's placed on the board of a new company with a mysterious agenda that nobody knows about, Trinity stumbles on a buzzing alien invasion which could be a problem since her book goes against any indication that such creatures exist. The only one who might potentially believe her now is her new driver.....

James Goss's script is a deep dive into Trinity herself as well as the effect all of the Whoniverse's various crises have had on her. The dialogue and script are both good with several bigger ideas that are interesting on the surface. But the soundscape and score are depressingly minimal and the acting on this one is a little bit wooden from our leads, both of which really let the story down. Carl definitely gives it her all as much as she can given how the story treats her but Barrowman especially sounds like he's reading his lines from a script in a strange misperformance that's really unusual for him and his character. Granted Carl and Barrowman do have decent chemistry to their relationship especially the longer the story goes on but neither of them feel like they're truly invested in what's going on. 

With the idea behind it is already being a bit of a stretch, combined with such prevalent problems the audio feels way too long and becomes unfortunately dull rather quickly. Things do redeem themselves a little bit at the end in a clever twist in the rushed climax that shows just how in control of the situation Trinity really was. It manages to impress both Jack and the listener as a result and is a nice touch to end things on. But it almost feels too little too late at that point and not enough to redeem more than an hour of tedious listening.

That's the operative and very disappointing word to describe the entire story as a matter of fact: tedious. There are a lot of cool things that "Driving Miss Wells" could've done in making itself stand out especially with its amazing predecessors in the set. As is, it's a boring and fairly mediocre adventure that squanders any potential it has with standard performances, boring plot, and just a lack of any care with it whatsoever. It's a great example of how pushing minor characters into their own stories can really backfire if not handled well and it's a rather disappointing misfire to end the set with. 

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