Reviewed By: thisoldcan
Review Date: 3/12/17 1:05 pm
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In Gardeners' Worlds, a Third Doctor and Jo Short Trips story, Captain Yates has called the Doctor and Jo down to Colston Burghley, where strange events have occurred in the town. At the center of these events are an infestation of metallic roses in Meredith Bright's back garden, which resist all attempts to pick them and seemingly bring luck to those that talk to them. The Doctor, Jo, and Yates must work to solve these problems; but solving these problems may mean someone doesn't make it out alive. The latest Short Trips release from Big Finish is a pretty average affair. It's a cute little story, and I really appreciated Treloar's performance here but, like so many Short Trips, it just didn't try to do anything other than be a 30-40 minute release featuring the Third Doctor. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it's certainly not going to make it stand out either.
The story is read by Tim Treloar, who portrays the Third Doctor in The Third Doctor Adventures range. Treloar is a strong actor in general, and does extremely well portraying the Third Doctor. I quite liked Treloar's very steady, assured narration in this story. There have been a few stories here and there where the narration changes up a bit too much pacing-wise, but Treloar is always very steady with his narration, making any of his stories an easy listen. I also liked most is how he was able to distinguish each different character he was portraying, from his excellent impression of the Third Doctor, to differentiating Jo and Meredith when doing a light impression of their voices. Often with the Short Trips range, the actors do a good job with the main roles they portrayed, and then do an adequate job differentiating between male and female characters, but that's about it. I give credit to Treloar for avoiding falling into that trap.
George Mann's script was a decidedly average affair. I found the story interesting enough for a Short Trips story, but as an actual story, it was a rather listless affair. I quite liked the idea that alternate realities were phasing into the prime universe, as it seemed like an interesting concept. I also liked the idea that the flowers were a device that could rewrite time slightly to help those who talked to them, as it made for a kind of interesting story. However, I also found that the story itself was just overall rather boring. There was a short plot with insect-like creatures who feed on leftover time creatures that came into the story for a few minutes, and then went absolutely no where, and I thought the disappearance of Yates as the Doctor and Jo try to set everything back to normal felt like a moment of forced emotional tension that moves to comic relief, as Jo cries over Yates, only to have him appear with a rose, making a witty one-liner. It was a cute moment, but it felt tacked on to try and provide a sense of tension at the end of the story. Given, there's not so much you can do to making pruning weeds seem like the most interesting thing on the planet.
Steve Foxon's work on the music and sound design was perfectly fine for the Short Trips range. As a whole, the Short Trips are usually very light on music, apart from the opening and closing themes, and sound effects, but it's always noticeable when they come into play. Foxon did a good job making them really blend into the story, such that they didn't steal the focus from the story, but instead enhanced the experience of listening to the story. That's exactly what slight soundtracks and sound designing should do, in my opinion.
Overall, Gardeners' Worlds wasn't the most engaging story I've ever heard. It had an interesting plot, on paper, but the end result petered out into nothing. Treloar did a strong big of narration in the story though, doing an excellent job differentiating between characters. All combined, it was an enjoyable, if extremely average, release; not one I'm angry I've listened to, but certainly not one I'd listen to again in a hurry.