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< 3. Full Fathom Five
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4. He Jests at Scars...

Rating Votes
10
14%
8
9
8%
5
8
22%
13
7
24%
14
6
14%
8
5
7%
4
4
10%
6
3
2%
1
2
0%
0
1
0%
0
Average Rating
7.1
Votes
60

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User Rating:
3
Plot Rating:
5
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4
Replay Rating:
3
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2
Has Prerequisite(s):
Yes
Reviewed By: JMChurch25Review Date: 2/5/19 9:30 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

Out of the entire 'Unbound' series, there were two audios that I was told to beware of in terms of how bad they were. "He Jests At Scars..." was the first of them posing a potentially interesting scenario from what would happen if the Valeyard had won against the Sixth Doctor in the 'Trial of a Time Lord' arc. This could've easily been a major treat for Who fans and there's no doubt that it certainly tries. Returning actor Michael Jayston is having an absolute blast with his character even as he destroys everything trying to get his way and there are lots of interesting moments that could've easily served as the basis for a decent tale. But it's negative aspects far outweigh the positives in this regard in painfully obvious ways. The Valeyard's actions are so obliviously stupid that it sabotages any seriousness the villain ever would've had in this scenario, Melanie Bush is needlessly pushed beyond who she was character-wise to where she's practically a different person despite Bonnie Langford doing her best, and the continuity nods are so superfluously suffocating that it's nigh incomprehensible to anyone not a mega fan of the show. But most damningly of all, this story is flat and completely dull. It starts off in an interesting way but Gary Russell's script rapidly loses its way to the worst of Doctor Who's tendencies once you realize where it's going and it never gets back on its feet after the first few minutes. I don't think it's quite as bad as everyone says it is as it is a little better once you are able to understand exactly what's going on with every moment. But that kind of research shouldn't be this necessary for a one-off story especially when the story actively sabotages otherwise great characters just to force those continuity nods in the first place. But yet the audio feels so proud of itself for that skewed logic that it turns off any enjoyment I would've had with it. As I finished listening to "He Jests at Scars.....", I found myself disappointingly agreeing with many other critics in regards to it's quality which disappointed but sadly didn't surprise me. I find my full opinion summarized nicely by the Valeyard's companion at one point in the story: "You stupid great pillock!"
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
7
Plot Rating:
7
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7
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Reviewed By: Drew VogelReview Date: 7/6/17 1:34 am
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

I'm really not a big fan of Gary Russell as a writer. I'll always be grateful to him for his role in establishing Big Finish, but his novels range from unreadable garbage to adolescent nonsense. And as you can see by the scores I've given it, I'm not a strong supporter of this story either. But in all fairness, it's not at all bad. I'd even go so far as to say that it's very nearly good. The big problem for me is that Mel doesn't actually accomplish anything and the Valeyard is defeated mainly by his own towering incompetence. That's just not a very strong ending.

The story starts out very well. The Valeyard is enjoying his newfound freedom. He even has a companion (who is, for some reason entirely beyond my understanding, and alternate-universe version of Ellie Martin from "Sarah Jane Smith"). He doesn't like to be called Doctor, but he is the Doctor. Almost. He's not a raving megalomaniac, for example. He has a noticeable lack of compassion, and he's traveling the universe collecting powerful artifacts and ancient super weapons to allow him to dominate others. But superficially, he's still a lot like the Doctor. This is the best part of the story.

Unfortunately, things spiral quickly out of control. In trying to make small improvements in history, the Valeyard makes a complete mess of it, and nearly destroys the universe, until finally he decides to stop. Mel is also in this story, but there's no reason why she should be. The Valeyard gives up without her interference. Her appearance in this story is entirely superfluous.

Which is a shame, because Bonnie Langford is quite good in this. It would have been really nice if the writer had remembered to allow her to have any impact on the outcome of any kind. Oh well. Better luck next time. Her role in this story, as usual, is to be someone for someone else to explain the plot to. It's a tragic missed opportunity.

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From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
9
Plot Rating:
10
Acting Rating:
9
Replay Rating:
9
Effects Rating:
7
Has Prerequisite(s):
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Reviewed By: traves8853Review Date: 9/15/15 8:57 pm
1 out of 2 found this review helpful.

Personally I think it works really well. Mel is much darker and in a lot of ways she steals the show, although she has no direct impact on events as such. Definitely one for continuity nerds and not beginners but this is about what possibilities and role reversals, and this includes lots of past events being altered and draws in many alternative outcomes. Here the Valeyard is the protagonist with his companion (Ellie), and Mel is the antagonist. All the performances are good but the atmosphere is weird and I am not always sure where they are supposed to be. Everywhere sounds like a cave or graveyard. If only 'The Ultimate Foe' had been like this. Very Dystopian and existential, I love it!
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User Rating:
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Acting Rating:
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Replay Rating:
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Reviewed By: adamelijahReview Date: 4/17/15 12:43 am
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

It's a challenge for these, "What if?" scenarios. This Doctor Who Unbound examines the question, "What if a writer came up with a scenario that's so implausible it strains all credulity or suspension of disbelief?"

Actually, it examines what would happened if at the end of "Trial of the Time Lord," the Doctor ran back to save the Valeyard, who was an evil side of his later incarnations, and the Valeyard instead killed the Doctor and seized his lives, and the Time Lords decided to act like fools and let the Valeyard do whatever he wants.

The answer is that the Valeyard would do evil things. Make that very evil and idiotic things that would in fact ruin his own timeline. And the one person who can stand up and oppose him is Mel Bush, who sets out to show the Doctor the better angel of his nature or kill him if he can't be brought back to sanity.

Once you get the implausibility of the Time Lords letting the Valeyard serve as a free range menace, there is some good to be found in the story. In some way, it's an examination of what a life free of any restraints or discipline leads to. The Doctor's personality doesn't just provide a sense of altruism, but of judgment and a healthy respect for the laws of time and nature that restrain him. The Valeyard tries to obliterate them and this story is the result.

You also have the idea that when you peal away the layers, the Valeyard lacks the courage of the Doctor, and there's something to that, as the Valeyard's plan in, Trial of the Time Lord is an underhanded cheat rather than a direct confrontation. Michael Jayston performs well in this, though only in the last scene do we get any nuance with the Valeyard.

Bonnie Langford also turns in a solid performance as Mel at a couple stages of life. The post-trial Mel and the later, harder edged Mel who is grimmer and grittier. Yes, this story feature a gritty Mel Bush. Bonnie Langford handles the performance well though the script lets her down. The scene at the beginning where Mel kills someone serves to provide ear-catching shock value. It serves no other purpose and was gratuitous plus it undermined the idea that she was still trying to reach out to the Doctor all these years later.

The story is also crammmed with so much continuity (Not only from the TV show, but also from books) that its easy to get lost in it. In the end, it's an odd story. it's a What if Question to which the answer isn't all that interesting or surprising.

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