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Reviews By Timelord63
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Reviewed By: Timelord63Review Date: 10/14/12 11:36 pm
3 out of 4 found this review helpful.

The Masters of Luxor is something of a gem, a story that would have fitted in so well into that first season but couldn't easily co-exist with The Daleks because they seem linked to the same initial ideas. Although both feel like different stories in their own rights and often go in different directions, they nevertheless appear to tick a lot of the same basic plot ideas.

As with The Daleks, Masters Of Luxor starts off with one of those classic unfolding mysteries where the TARDIS crew slowly explore and make sense of their deserted surroundings alongside us for the first episode or so, and through all of that - and indeed, the rest of the story - there's a solid logical chain of cause and effect to the way the plot develops.

Unlike many reviews elsewhere, I loved the initial cliffhanger and the build up to it. It's a great culmination of the growing suspicion and danger and the lack of alternative courses of action other than to indulge in what their unknown hosts expect of them, plus it's also nicely reversed later on in the story. Equally impressive was the episode 4 cliffhanger, which I'd swear I was watching via a camera pan from Ian's panicked gaze, up to a close-up of the liquid hitting the danger mark...

This is an all-round superb production that, thanks to the brilliant direction, acting, music and smart adaptation, I could believe I've just watched this on the telly :) I've read the script book years ago but this clicked for me in a way the script alone didn't. It's a treat to hear the original TARDIS travellers again, expecially when they have such superb stories as this and Farewell, Great Macedon, and it was so lovely to hear Carole Ann Ford and William Russell perfectly bring this to life together alongside a great third supporting voice from Joe Kloska.

I'm split on the idea of moving this to later in the season, but on balance I think it was probably better to do what BF have done rather than to try and shoehorn this back into the story slot that it originally lost (and which narratively it can't really fit into alongside The Daleks). I much prefer the idea of the Lost Stories being extra adventures that can comfortably fit around the TV stories rather than alternate 'what-ifs?', even if it requires bending the original script slightly to accomplish that.

It really is intriguing that there are so many stand-out parallels to The Daleks running the whole way through this. Maybe in the same way that the miniscules plots eventually became Planet of Giants after several writer's attempts at the same broad idea, perhaps this is another writer's take on the desired first sci-fi story that became The Daleks. Certainly there's enough that's different and it doesn't feel at all like a copy or rewrite, but it's fair to say that some sections of The Daleks are like an alternative take of notable plot strands from Luxor, a similar basic idea taken to new places by a different writer. I'd guess there's no paperwork or evidence to confirm either way as I suspect it'd have long since been discussed if so, but it's an interesting point to speculate on.

If it was down to an either/ or situation, I think I can guess why they chose The Daleks. There are a few things here that don't quite fit into the direction the show chose, most notably some religious overtones. The extras on the disc explain these have been toned down, and I have to admit I found the similar moments at the very start of Farewell, Great Macedon jarred more than anything in Luxor did, although there are still one or two. There's also talk of accepting death from Susan and Barbara that feels odd from those characters as we know them, and perhaps a slightly more ambitious scope than the Lime Grove studio could have easily managed with large sets often required in the same episode. And perhaps most crucially, the Daleks are a slightly more exciting idea than here - the Perfect One himself is a great character, but his Mark 1s and Derivatrons are ultimately simple robots, whereas the Daleks offer something more appealing and menacing than that.

Ultimately, it's a very strong 9/10 from me - I think it's maybe slightly stretched to six parts and perhaps would have made a perfect five parter (although I'm not suggesting BF should have done this, I'm glad it rightfully stays at six eps as it was scripted! :). But then it also strikes me that when you look at how in Luxor it takes a simple few short scenes for the Doctor, Ian and Tabon to return to the city via underground caves, that's remarkably streamlined compared to the two episode equivalent trek at the end of The Daleks.

As a side note, I've the exact same feeling towards it's replacement tale - a minor criticism that it's maybe slightly too long towards the end of the story, but otherwise a strong 9/10.
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Reviewed By: Timelord63Review Date: 8/5/11 9:59 pm
2 out of 2 found this review helpful.

There are certain plays that, when I come here to give them a mark, make me think 'excellent, 10/10!', and then there are the times such as this when something you've just heard really grabs you and suddenly that 10/10 doesn't feel anything like enough to do it justice. 'The Cold Equations' is faultless and a beautiful script, brilliantly brought to life by the production and by two superb actors working so very well together (or three actors? I swear William Hartnell joined in on the recording day :). Relatively non-spoilerish reasons to love this one include good use of Steven's skills, a cracking story, and the heart-warming reactions to Oliver's secret. Plus a nice little nod over to the Sara Kingdom trilogy. I cannot wait for the third in this trilogy and would welcome many more!

On the subject of Oliver's secret, that deserves a huge thank you. Without it, I still would love the story and it would've got the same mark. With it, well, 100/10? Still not enough :)
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Reviewed By: Timelord63Review Date: 1/26/11 10:21 pm
3 out of 3 found this review helpful.

For the final part of the Stockbridge trilogy, things suddenly move up a gear. This time round we're in the far future, in one of only three stasis-preserved areas on a burning Earth, now run as a tourist attraction showcasing how Earth people used to live.

Questionably the title gives away the fact that this time round, the Daleks play a part in the coming events in Stockbridge. Despite knowing this an episode or so earlier than it feels we should, there's a lot to enjoy here and a real sense of tension throughout. Reminiscent of Richard Laymon's brilliant 'One Rainy Night', the inhabitants soon find themselves transformed into savage zombie-like killers as an ominous rain begins to fall on the village. We might be a step ahead as to why, but I still loved the second episode nonetheless; I thought the pacing was handled perfectly here.

When they do appear, the Daleks are worth their use - again, we get something just a little different from them here than the standard invasion/ extermination story. I'd argue it also makes a lot of sense for this to be their story, given the technology used here and how much that becomes crucial to the plot as it develops.

All the guest cast do a briliant job, but Liza Tarbuck and Keith Barron really stand out. They're given room to act out some interesting material by episode 4 that you wouldn't have expected, and as a result we get a very powerful close to this trilogy with some superb performances. It's worth adding that Sarah Sutton and Peter Davison likewise are note-perfect.

There's a lot to enjoy from this story, not least a superb conclusion to the trilogy.
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Reviewed By: Timelord63Review Date: 1/6/11 1:37 am
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Brilliant atmosphere, excellent story, and a notably enjoyable performance from Lalla Ward. This is a spaceship-bound tension piece, and a very good one at that. The music is strong and complimentary to the production, adding to the general sense of horror and eerieness, but also blending in perfectly to the story.

There's no framing device here, just Romana telling a tale, but that matters not one jot. Lalla's performance really picks up on the strengths of the script, adding great tension into scenes and playing the story out wonderfully. Jess Robinson gives us brilliant, creepy performances as CAIN and the Pyralis, and a faultless delivery of Suri. A very enjoyable listen.

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