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< 4.3 - Requiem For the Rocket Men
4.5 - Suburban Hell >

4.4 - Death Match

Rating Votes
10
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9
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7
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6
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Average Rating
7.3
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54
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User Rating:
8
Plot Rating:
7
Acting Rating:
8
Replay Rating:
8
Effects Rating:
8
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Yes
Reviewed By: JMChurch25Review Date: 12/5/18 10:15 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

*SPOILERS FOR "REQUIEM FOR THE ROCKET MEN"* In the process of leaving the Doctor after the events of 'Requiem', Leela has been drugged and kidnapped by the Master for his own nefarious ends. Those ends turn out to be taking charge of a dueling complex known simply as the Death-Match, a place where the evilest beings in the universe bring their own champions to fight to the death for glory and entertainment. The Master's champion? Leela herself. When a space-time telegraph from a side character from the previous story reaches the Doctor and K9, the pair race in the TARDIS to save her. But with the rule of the Death-Match being kill or be killed, will the Doctor and Leela be able to get out alive even when facing the most skilled warriors and beasts on the duel room floor?.....

As a continuation of the story of 'Requiem' and as a story in its own right, I'm thankful to say that "Death Match" is just as strong as its predecessor albeit in very different ways. Serving as a completely different sort of story with a much more visceral feel to it, the script by Matt Fitton finds plenty of opportunities for character development as well as the intense battle scenarios that you'd expect from such a premise. It's appropriately sci-fi and grand for a battle royale soundscape and it even allows for a bit of a surprise romance to happen. I won't spoil how that works here but it's been built up for a little while and it's a nice little touch even if it goes exactly where you'd expect.

The highlight here, however, is in not the Death-Match itself but the surrounding circumstances and in particular the dialogue and cast. In particular, this audio delivers a strong ideological debate between the Doctor and the Master that is easily the highlight of the entire two-part story. There is a nice juxtaposition between the two that's really highlighted pushes Baker and Beevers to the limit with both of their personalities and performances. The acting between the two is absolutely superb in this confrontation and it's worth savoring as it doesn't happen between this Doctor and Master very often. But Louise Jameson and John Gleeson totally deserve credit as well for what they do in turning in great performances and in getting plenty to do in infiltrating and taking care of the situation.  Even the side cast in a morally ambiguous supporter played by Susan Brown and a traitorous staff member played by Andy Secombe are fantastic. They really bring out a fun side to the Master that allows him to relax and just be gleefully evil though both go exactly the way you'd expect them to in dealing with a force such as him in the end.

With two-part Fourth Doctor stories, there is a tendency for them to have a strong first half setting up a good premise that's let down with a weak or disappointing second half. With this in mind, "Death Match" doesn't fall into this trap and is a great story with lots to enjoy about it all the way through. It's not going to win any awards any time soon and it's not the absolute strongest story in the world. But for what it is, it's still a blast especially when combined with 'Requiem' and it's easily the best overall two-part story that the Fourth Doctor and Leela have to offer in audio form.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
7
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Reviewed By: traves8853Review Date: 12/31/15 9:08 am
2 out of 2 found this review helpful.

Matt Fitton is a prolific and talented writer for Big Finish, and 'Death Match' is further proof of his reliability and writing talent. It's action packed with some great interplay between Tom's Doctor and Geoffrey Beevers' Master that delivers some scintillating dialogue. Although not officially a two-parter, events continue from the preceding story as The Master has kidnapped both Leela and Marshall to compete in a dueling contest he is compering.

The Master seems to have taken up a strange moral philosophy obsession with wanting to push Leela to the point where she will kill, and juxtapose that with The Doctor's own moral philosophy. This leads to a very interesting face off (no pun intended) between the two adversaries. The environment is a bit of a strange one for a blossoming romance (never mind two) and I have to say that it doesn't entirely convince. There is a strange discordant quality between various elements despite there being a lot of good ideas. Some of them feel too much like inventions of necessity.

Overall, I have a hard time trying to make up my mind just what to think of this. I admire the creativity and ambition but, unfortunately, I don't think it quite manages to execute the ideas it has successfully. Although, there is no denying that the ending is the most evocative and emotive in the range.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
8
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8
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8
Replay Rating:
8
Effects Rating:
8
Has Prerequisite(s):
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Reviewed By: adamelijahReview Date: 4/29/15 4:53 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Death Match follows up on the previous story as the Master has captured Leela and is using her as his pawn in a series of fights to the death for the entertainment of despots, and it's up to the Doctor and K-9 to come to the rescue.

There's a lot to like in the story. There's a great confrontation between the Master and the Doctor as they discuss how they approach the universe. The plot itself and how the Master is using his position as the Master of the Death Match is incredibly interesting, as are many of the elements of the Death Match itself.Geoffrey Beavers turns in another solid performance and has me eager to listen to his next turn as the Master.

I did feel like the story lost a little bit of momentum in Part 2, but it recovered nicely with the relationship between Leela and reforming Rocketman Marshall is beautifully done. I also thought some of the later plot twists were very clever. Susan Brown created a very enjoyable character in the morally ambiguous Kastrella whose true colors show at the end.

Overall, taken with the previous release, this two part tale is easily the best executed two parter in the Fourth Doctor Adventures. It has some very well written scripts with great plots, solid villains, and some great moments for both Leela and K9.