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< 4.2 - The Darkness of Glass
4.4 - Death Match >

4.3 - Requiem For the Rocket Men

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8
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Reviewed By: JMChurch25Review Date: 12/5/18 5:20 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

The first of a two-part Fourth Doctor story that continues and concludes with "Death Match", "Requiem for the Rocket Men" sees a holiday for the TARDIS team interrupted by a wanted poster and mercenaries looking for an easy bounty. With the Doctor captured and brought to the home base of pirates known as the Rocket Men, it's not long before the Master makes an appearance looking to ally himself with them and their leader Shandar. What follows is a game of cat and mouse between Shandar, the TARDIS team, and the Master with surprises, standoffs, and intense confrontations aplenty. 

'Requiem' starts off as a very traditional Fourth Doctor story but it takes a turn into the interesting once the Master arrives on the scene who rapidly becomes the star of the show. The majority of the audio takes place from the Master's perspective with the Doctor working in the background behind the scenes to escape confinement and it makes for some fascinating twists. It's not often we get this narrative shift in a story with both Doctor and Master present and John Dorney's script is once again very strong. I like how for once this incarnation of the Doctor gets to be the one in the shadows rather than his villains and it's a fascinating little subversion that gets more insane the farther it goes. It's a really unique idea for a standard Four story and it makes this audio entertaining as hell as a result. 

Tom Baker is gleeful, madcap, and great as usual and K9 gets some very different things to do for once that are actually fun to listen to. Louise Jameson gets to do her standard thing as Leela especially as things start to become more unstable but she gets a surprising moment before the end that will be interesting to see play out in the second half of this story and her performance is really strong as a result. But Geoffrey Beevers is once again the highlight as the Master by far and it's interesting to hear that slimy hypnotic voice having to deal with brutes, mercenaries, and the frustrations that ensue. The Rocket Men themselves are fine but do feel sort of unnecessary with the Master at play who is far more interesting as a villain. This is especially once the first big surprise occurs that reveals some interesting new layers to his character underneath all of the scheming hatred. The soundscape is appropriately loud and explosive with a strong first half that plays with expectations and a second half with a very strong climax that's predictable but a lot of fun in destabilizing the Rocket Men for good. 

While previous stories featuring Four, Leela, and the Master have been extremely hit or miss ('Evil One', I'm looking at you....), "Requiem for the Rocket Men" is a major win and a blast of a time that I sincerely hope continues into the second half. It manages to feel familiar and yet new at the same time with great direction, lots to do with well-established characters, and an interesting hook into "Death Match" that leaves you curious and wanting more. 
From the Reviewer:
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Reviewed By: traves8853Review Date: 12/29/15 11:38 am
3 out of 3 found this review helpful.

'Requiem for the Rocket Men', written by John Dorney and directed by Nick Briggs, has a couple of things the preceding story didn't: Pace and the ability to surprise. John Dorney is a great writer and Nick Briggs' direction is finely honed after years of experience. This isn't really anything like the Rocket Men adventures from the Companion Chronicles range. Instead, it balances the Fourth Doctor Adventures' ethos of remaining faithful to the TV series of the time while still giving us a new and deeply original story.

Huntress Leela has taken the renegade Timelord fugitive, known as The Doctor, prisoner in order to claim the bounty offered by Shandar: leader of the outlaws known as the Rocket Men. In the meantime, Shandar has acquired a new robotic pet.

It's full of surprises and humorous touches; nice to see various characters performing different roles, even if only briefly. The narrative is mainly from the Master's viewpoint with Doctor in the background trying to outwit his nemesis. We also get to hear The Master kill the Doctor and The Master's reaction afterward. My only real complaint is that the Rocket Men aren't really necessary to the story. This feels like another duel between The Doctor and The Master, although a very good one. Aside from that, all the characters get something to do, even K9.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
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Reviewed By: kfb2014Review Date: 8/23/15 3:06 pm
4 out of 4 found this review helpful.

This is the first part to a two part story, that we see the return of the Rocket men. Now for me this instantly conjures up images of Buster Crabbe and those B&W serials that I caught as kid on a Saturday morning on BBC before Swap Shop. However these are squarely the Rocket men which first appeared in the Doctor's cannon around the time of Ian Chesterton and then re-appeared later on with Peter Purvis doing the necessary. This time we have good old Tom pitting his wits against them, aided and abetted this time by the Master, this time played by Geoffrey Beevers who is a most excellent choice for playing the Doctor's one of the oldest adversaries. In fact Geoffrey's portrayal is perhaps the most classic of all audio Masters so far. I really enjoyed his altogether creepy and malignant enthusiastic performance, very, much on the style of the Master that Tom came up against in the TV series.


That said as we have the ever faithful threesome of Baker, Jameson and Leeson in play here there is not much that can go wrong, and in fact the whole story was beautifully told with expert precision in the timing of the story. I for one enjoy the almost seamless way that Big Finish have taken the classic partnership/threesome and made them instantly attainable to those who remember the prior incarnation of these actors. The Doctor plays a game of poker in a way double crossing both the King of the Rocket men and the Master in one fell swop. It is a bit like having the rug pulled when we learn of the long game that the Doctor has took in order to get the better of them both, and it is a cracking tale as it unfolds. That said there is some classic B Movie build up at the end, which had me reaching for the next release to see what happens, and on that note I will say no more, other than if you want a time machine to take you back to your youth in Tom was your Doctor, then this will take some beating in that respect. A sort of audible time machine, listen and you will know why I wax lyrical about these little pearls of entertainment.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
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Replay Rating:
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Reviewed By: adamelijahReview Date: 4/25/15 10:46 am
2 out of 2 found this review helpful.

The previous two stories in the Fourth Doctor range easily call to mind the Fourth Doctor’s era. Requiem for the Rocket Men is refreshingly different. It’s a sting story and as John Dorney says it reverses the typical set up where the Doctor lands, finds the Master’s at work and tries to thwart. Here, the Master arrives and finds the Doctor has been “taken prisoner” by the Rocket Men, and quickly smells a rat and he works to figure up what the Doctor’s up to.

The story is a delight to listen to. The plan is extremely clever and has some great twists in it. This role reversal idea is utterly brilliant and Geoffrey Beevers has a really marvelous turn as the Master, giving us a hint of what we missed out on with his limited TV appearances. He manages to be elegant and occasionally sarcastic. The scene where he believes he’s killed the Doctor is well-one. Louise Jameson has a good performance, and I don’t know if K-9 has ever had better lines. We also have Leela deciding to leave the TARDIS which was far better than her final departure on television. There’s also a nice cliffhanger to lead into the next story.

On the negative side, when do you know it’s time to choose a new opening line? The scheme doesn’t really work in a story where the opening and closing narration is forced in rather than integral as in the Two Companion Chronicles featuring the Rocket Men.

Overall, Beevers and a very clever script make this a wonderful yarn to listen to.