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This story, being the second in the Return Trilogy of the Bonus Range, is something of a curiosity. It’s rather a different tale to what we’ve gotten before, and is very mixed in opinions.
I must confess here that I love The Web Planet. The First Doctor television story is generally considered to be pretty bad, but I find it enjoyable and loveable. Maybe that’s why I decided to buy it on CD and listen to it, and is probably the reason I liked it so much.
The story gives us two Menoptera characters, who the Doctor and Nyssa meet and learn about. These characters are fleshed out and developed, which is rare for a story so short. A common criticism is that there is too much of learning about the characters, but I think it works well with the story. These characters have motives, flaws, likes, dislikes, and personalities.
The world of Vortis is different to how we have seen it before, all luscious and green. The descriptions from the characters gave me images of beautiful trees and forestine landscapes. However, I feel that there was no sound effects to match this description. Maybe some wind through the leaves or some rustling would have benefitted, but there’s nothing supporting it. I love the imagery of stone towers and cities of light on the horizon, and the swirling spiral masses of space, it is all so picturesque.
The story with Mother Nature I felt was a bit rushed. I wanted to see more of her, and who she was, instead of the info-dump at the end. I don’t mind the info-dump, as it comes part of the climax, but the villain of the story needed more development. The two human characters are interesting, but do little. They serve as plot points rather than characters. However, as they do link with the overall narrative, it doesn’t bother me as much.
So as a sequel to The Web Planet? I think it works well. Much of that story is references and a Zarbi is even named ‘Arbara’. It’s interesting seeing how much Vortis has changed and what it’s like now.
So overall, a fun narrative and so far, the best from the Return Trilogy. I’m looking forward to listening Return of the Krotons and I’ll be reviewing that soon.