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< Damaged Goods
8. All Consuming Fire >

7. Theater of War

Rating Votes
10
3%
1
9
14%
4
8
45%
13
7
28%
8
6
10%
3
5
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Average Rating
7.7
Votes
29
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From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
8
Plot Rating:
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Acting Rating:
8
Replay Rating:
8
Effects Rating:
7
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Reviewed By: adamelijahReview Date: 9/30/17 2:55 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

The Doctor, Bennie, and Ace arrive on a planet whose life is centered around a mysterious theatre which brings great plays literally to life and run smack into an expedition trying to find out what went wrong in a previous expedition even as their home world has suffered a series of reversals in a recent war.

This story is superb fun. The Doctor, Bennie, and Ace are all given great moments to shine. The plot itself is engaging and inventive and kept me guessing as to what was really going on as the mystery of this theatre deepened. The guest stars were okay for the most, with the exception of Miles Richardson as Irving Braxiatel. This story also gives us the first time Bennie met Braxiatel...at least from her perspective.

Beyond this meeting though, this story fits far more nicely in Big Finish as it avoids the continuity issues have been inherent in other productions, helped perhaps by the fact that the author of the book adapted it. Overall, it's a delightful listen.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
9
Plot Rating:
8
Acting Rating:
10
Replay Rating:
10
Effects Rating:
10
Has Prerequisite(s):
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Reviewed By: newt5996Review Date: 2/12/16 12:50 am
1 out of 2 found this review helpful.

To my knowledge the fan response to Theatre of War was mixed to positive, but yet it is almost a perfect candidate to adapt to audio as Justin Richards’ writing used a lot of descriptions of the settings in his prose. There are also a lot of descriptive passages whenever the pacing in the novel was taken to a grinding halt where Richards tried to create suspense which was one example of the story working better on audio than it ever could in novel form.





First and foremost as with any adaptation of a novel into an acted medium it becomes very easy for the characterization to change. The best place to begin with these changes is with the archeological team sent to investigate Menaxus. A story change from novel to audio is that Benny met Gilmanuk not just before the expedition but five years before she met the Doctor in basically the same situation. So she doesn’t actually go on the expedition as in this version she never left after the events of Legacy. So there is a bit more time to develop the characters as they are introduced. Fortalexa and Gilmanuk in particular get more characterization as they have their own character arcs which weren’t as explored in the novel. Now taking a look at the Doctor and Ace who both get better treatment then they did in the novel. The Doctor gets moody at the end as he is out-manipulated by Irving Braxiatel. The Doctor’s acting Tomb of the Cybermen style as he manipulates events and even gets Ace to do what he wants her to do without her knowing it. Sylvester McCoy is always great as the Doctor and loves to flex his manipulative side. Ace is also treated a lot better here than in the novel. According to the extras when adapting this Richards went off his original outline instead of the published novel and I think that’s why Ace has a much better character than she did in the novel. She isn’t nearly as harsh here and feels a lot more like the Ace we know. That is also down to Sophie Aldred just maturing as an actress. Yes she was great on TV, but she was also an amateur actor so has completely improved her set of skills.





Finally there is the subplot involving Benny and the Braxiatel Collection. Now with all the clunky descriptions cut out Benny gets into the collection and meets Braxiatel a lot sooner as he helps with the exposition. The scenes at the Collection are still the best but everything is heightened by Lisa Bowerman’s amazing performance as Bernice Summerfield. Miles Richardson is almost exactly how I imagined Braxiatel to be, an older, more British version of the Seventh Doctor. Sadly the problems of the original novel are still present, mainly how traditional the story is, but by the medium switch they are minimized.





To summarize, the adaptation of Theatre of War heightens everything from the original novel, yet still has a few problems from the original storyline that couldn’t be fixed.

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From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
6
Plot Rating:
6
Acting Rating:
8
Replay Rating:
6
Effects Rating:
NR
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Reviewed By: kfb2014Review Date: 12/20/15 11:38 am
1 out of 2 found this review helpful.

Another novel adaptation, and another one staring No.7 and Bernice. Once again I have not read the book, and to be perfectly honest, I don't think I will be. It didn't as they say tickle my fancy as much as I was hoping. It is on reflection a little bizarre, it does not conform to the normality of the Who universe in my head. For one thing lets just discuss the plot. We have a Indiana Jones style time hoping archaeologist in Summerfield, who is aboard the TARDIS, with the Doctor. They then go an land in rather bizarre scenario where they are immersed in the midst of Hamlet, as the story starts to unfold, it soon becomes apparent that this is no more than a re-created enactment via some technological invention to replay various theatre productions, a sort of future version of a Disney attraction at a theme park. We then are thrust into a war, and the Doctor and Bernie are soon deeply involved, they have landed on the planet of Menaxus, a planet where there is a large open theatre, where they are met by a group of soldiers/archaeologists whom are from a theatrical immersed culture who have come to the planet to investigate this open air theatre, the only thing is that already strange goings on have taken the life of at least one of their party. With this in mind and to find what is actually going on, Bernie goes off to the library of Braxiatel Collection, to find out more. Ok, this is for me now starting to get confusing, I don't think in principle that this is a bad idea, and I think it is probably a good, read, however it does not make the translation as well across to a 2hour drama. It is well acted as always, and I love the sarcastic more human qualities of Bernice, whom seems to suffer from the stress and strains like the rest of us when it comes to the fore when she desperately needs a alcoholic drink to try and de-stress. It is a wonderfully well produced piece of work as well, it is just well a little too much for what it is.

For the simple fact that I feel that this has not made the transition from what it was to what this is, I am afraid to say, as we exit 2015 this is the most disappointing release of the specials from Big Finish I have come to listen too. Let's hope the next release in the novelisation will be better. But for this the last of the special Doctor Who's for 2015 this is not brilliant.