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< 4. The Land of the Dead
6. The Marian Conspiracy >

5. The Fearmonger

Rating Votes
10
13%
20
9
22%
34
8
26%
41
7
23%
37
6
11%
18
5
3%
4
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Average Rating
7.8
Votes
158
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User Rating:
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Reviewed By: JMChurch25Review Date: 3/5/18 8:27 pm
0 out of 1 found this review helpful.

'Fearmonger' has the distinction of being the very first solo Seventh Doctor adventure ever created by Big Finish. Set in the near future of our world, it sees Seven and Ace against the literal embodiment of a fearful political atmosphere. It's a bold move especially for the first Big Finish outing for this Doctor and it's an extremely memorable one. As you can imagine with the premise of politicians in allegiance with a monster that taps into an individual's fear and hatred for power over the people, there is a sharp political commentary here that you don't often get in Big Finish Doctor Who and it seems especially relevant today with certain leaders and commentators currently running amok in our real world. There are also touches on terrorism, populism, the media, and fraud that make this one feel like something right out of "House of Cards" which combined with the sci-fi element of the Doctor and the monster makes this one a very unique listen. The plot plods along confidently no matter what the listener thinks of it for better or worse with similar vibes to the much maligned "Happiness Patrol" but thankfully in a much more subtle fashion. The soundscape doesn't quite match that but there is an intention to the chaos, the screams, surreal electronic voice inflections like something out of today's Anonymous, and the energy of everything around the characters. Britain (or in this case Britannia) is a desperate country and its reflected very well here. In terms of the cast, McCoy is great as always giving a performance for the Seventh Doctor that's not as over the top as he can be at times with his scheming. His character feels much more understated and on the edge than usual and he pops quite literally in and out of the tale with purpose and intention. Sophie Aldred as Ace is once again fine playing her standard Seventh Doctor companion role well if not really doing anything interesting with it. She's calmer and a bit more confident which again would continue in her growth as a character in future stories but she's still loyal, cocky, and essential to the Doctor's plans and work. The other notable role is Jacqueline Pearce making her first appearance in Big Finish with this story before going on to more in her audio career most recently as Cardinal Ollistra in the Time War audios with the Eighth and War Doctors. She plays a political firebrand at her absolute worst but yet one that's usually sensitive to what people think of her. It's like a mirror into what I imagine some of the most hated politicians must feel like and it's a complex and fascinating performance especially by the end when she's begging the Doctor for her life. The rest of the cast is fine but those three are the performances you'll remember the most. One thing that I noticed about 'Fearmonger' is that you can sort of tell that this was Big Finish's early days in their storytelling. It must've sounded amazing when it was first released but today in 2018 it does feel a little bit unpolished in terms of audio and transitions, a bit rushed and almost unpolished. The story sort of just jumps right into things without much preparation or background which was a tad distracting. Blum's script is a good one but it delivers complicated plot details somewhat haphazardly in a ton of exposition dumps so much so that you often miss them. You as a listener really do have to focus on what's going on to understand things and even then it took me repeating a few tracks to really get it. It also often looses track of what it's trying to do with the sci-fi elements and the balance leans much more towards the political than it probably should. But none of this is distracting enough to where you want to turn the tale off completely and the overriding details are at least interesting enough especially when it does touch on the sci-fi elements. It also pulls a very surprise ending that's extremely well done. To conclude, there are a lot of great ideas in 'Fearmonger' to where I wish this audio had been done later in Big Finish's career so it could sound and feel a bit cleaner and less rough around the edges. But it still holds up extremely well especially for a first audio story for the Seventh Doctor and considering it led to such a strong legacy of McCoy stories in audio form, it's definitely worth a listen especially at the current bargain price it stands at. 
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
8
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8
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Replay Rating:
7
Effects Rating:
8
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No
Reviewed By: NewWorldreviewsReview Date: 8/6/17 8:18 pm
3 out of 4 found this review helpful.

Out of the first five titles Big Finish put out, The Fearmonger is instantly the most impressive. With a tight focus, skilful writing and some awesome characterisation, this is a release that really stands out of the early Big Finish Main Range. It's sharp political commentary is also something to be commended.

The plot is simple, but effective: the Doctor and Ace are chasing a creature that using a right-wing political activist as a host, stirring up hatred and fear wherever it goes. Within this, writer Jonathan Blum expertly crafts a number of human 'villains' for the Doctor and Ace, all of whom believe they are doing the right thing. The previously-mentioned activist, Sherilyn Harper, is totally believable: very much like the Trumps and Farages of the real world. As for radio personality Mick Thompson, he's like Katie Hopkins without a Twitter feed. Despite its age, it's amazing to think that The Fearmonger is still relevant today, possible more so than in 2000. And the whole thing is laced with danger: the cliffhanger to episode 2 is possibly one of the best ever examples of a companion in danger in Who's history.

Backed up with some amazing performances (McCoy, Aldred, Jacqueline Pearce and Hugh Walters being the standouts), and some phenomenal sound design and music from Alistair Lock, The Fearmonger is one of the most gripping and thought-provoking story Big Finish have ever produced, and one of the best from the early days of the Main Range.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
10
Plot Rating:
10
Acting Rating:
9
Replay Rating:
9
Effects Rating:
10
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Reviewed By: Drew VogelReview Date: 3/14/17 11:48 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

An exceptionally strong story. Very nearly perfect. It's got a great concept, it's very tightly plotted, and it's simply a joy to listen to. Apparently, the writing process for this story was exceptionally difficult, but you wouldn't think so from listening to it. It sounds almost effortless. The script juggles a lot of plot elements with great deftness. I can't say enough good things about it.

The story is overtly political, which isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it's something I happen to appreciate. Many people say that this story was prescient, and they mean it as a compliment. But after revisiting the story in the wake of Brexit and Trump, and I can't help noticing that there's no positive left-wing alternative offered to the overt racism of Sherilyn Harper. From Stephen Keyser to Walter Jacobs and even Alexsandr Karadjic... none of them seems to have any political opinions at all except opposition to her. If this story is prescient of anything, it's that something will always beat nothing, no matter how vile that something is.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
8
Plot Rating:
8
Acting Rating:
9
Replay Rating:
8
Effects Rating:
7
Has Prerequisite(s):
No
Reviewed By: dtomReview Date: 1/31/17 7:54 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

If you like your Doctor Who dark and brooding, then this might just be the one for you. Writer Jonathon Blum, another graduate from BBC 8th Doctor novels, serves up a tale of politicians using fear and loathing to grasp power, very apt in our post-truth landscape, alongside terrorism and assassinations.

It’s the perfect vehicle for Sylvester McCoy’s enigmatic Doctor and Sophie Aldred’s cynical Ace. The supporting cast are largely excellent and despite the complex plotting the whole thing rattles along at a terrific pace. There is a fair amount of violence depicted in the story which might put some off. The use of guns and bombs occur in several scenes but these are indicative of the plot and not just a sensationalist add on.

For the most part the plot hangs together and I well worth a second listen. The incidental music is unobtrusive and the soundscape works well.
McCoy’s is excellent here. The script plays to his strengths and avoids monologues and overt dramatic. He plays the role here as a both melancholic and enigmatic. He gets some cracking lines and doesn’t waste them. Sophie Aldred backs him up with an equally good
performance as Ace. Here she appears older and wiser, and suggests that time has passed for the characters since their final TV airing. In several instances, it is her who takes the more proactive role, with the Doctor acting as an interested observer.

For fan’s of seventies sci fi will also be delighted that Jacqueline Pearce (Blake 7) is involved. Here she plays an opportunist right wing politician. Her political speeches are very reminiscent of Maggie Thatcher’s delivery and its clear Jacqueline is having a great time doing it. A special mention should be made here for Hugh Walters, another actor sadly no longer with us, whose credits include a 1965 appearance in The Chase alongside the 1st Doctor. Here he plays a spin-doctor with marvelous creepiness.

There is very little to complain about in this production. It was good value and full price and at the bargain basement price of £2.99 it is practically a steal