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1.2 - Mission to Magnus >

1.1 - The Nightmare Fair

Rating Votes
10
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11
9
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6
8
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27
7
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32
6
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5
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Average Rating
7.0
Votes
127
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User Rating:
5
Plot Rating:
6
Acting Rating:
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Replay Rating:
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Effects Rating:
7
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Reviewed By: JMChurch25Review Date: 11/12/18 9:32 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

The first of the Doctor Who Lost Stories that were scrapped in the 80's in favor of the 'Trial of a Time Lord' stories of Season 23, "The Nightmare Fair" is a Sixth Doctor adventure set immediately after Series 22's "Revelation of the Daleks". The Doctor and Peri have landed in Blackpool 1985 with the intention of relaxing at the nearby amusement park while investigating a strange space/time vortex nearby. All seems enjoyable on the surface with rides and thrills galore. But someone is hiding nearby with a deep vendetta and a personal grudge. The Celestial Toymaker is at work in the mechanics of the park and he wants to play a game with the Doctor...Despite what it sounds like with the premise and concepts, 'Nightmare Fair' ends up being a rather dull affair with only a couple of things that stick out. It certainly feels authentic to the time being a longer two-part story with a decent enough soundscape that emulates a retro 80's landscape. The Toymaker's antics have been upgraded to the electronic era with many of the beeps, explosions, and sounds of the 8-bit era filling the atmosphere. But there are also plenty of traditional traps such as killer miner robots and dark tunnels that feel more classic to the Toymaker's vibe. The script by Graham Williams feels like an appropriate upgrade for the time but still very retro by today's standards and it makes the audio have a very odd feel to it listening in 2018. Unfortunately, it's not nearly as atmospheric or intriguing as it thinks it is and the slow pacing makes it exceedingly dull in places. There were frequent moments that brought about boredom and the climax is utterly incomprehensible to make it all feel pointless. Thankfully the cast is all right as a whole. Colin Baker is good and his mood very much fits where this Doctor is at this point in his timestream. 'Ol Sixie is not quite the nasty arrogant prick of his early days but not quite the warm-hearted and comfortable talker of his later stories either. It's a great performance and easily the best part of the story. Nicola Bryant is fine as Peri, most of the side cast is fine if unremarkable, and David Bailie as the Toymaker is great channeling Michael Gough's glee with all of his schemes but also working with some of the character's darker impulses that future stories would really tap into. The story takes time to tap more into the backstory of the Toymaker and that added context makes the villain feel very old and menacing. Unfortunately, they are all sort of drowned underneath the lackluster narrative and writing and I was glad to see it end before too long. It would've been interesting to see onscreen but I get the feeling it would have been dated as all hell nowadays especially with the Toymaker himself not being all that fondly remembered to begin with. As a story, "The Nightmare Fair" is rather middle of the road and it's not the greatest pseudo-opening for a lost season. It's worth checking out maybe once for curiosity sake but you wouldn't be missing out on anything necessary if you skipped it. If you want to check out some missing Who history and see what could've been, give it a listen but I'm fine with leaving this story to oblivion.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
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7
Acting Rating:
9
Replay Rating:
6
Effects Rating:
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Reviewed By: traves8853Review Date: 11/3/15 12:58 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Even though some of these stories have a nostalgic feel, some have it more than others. The producer for the range, David Richardson, briefed all the composers including Jamie Robertson to give the Lost Stories season an original, but classic "80's Retro" feel. Robertson used various synths for the music soundtrack and sound design including an AKAI AX-80 and a Yamaha SY85. I don’t think the direction was always as clear as it could have been, and the soundtrack whilst faithful to the period doesn't generate much atmosphere.

David Bailie's Toymaker is a cruel but not sadistic, a more refined villain and interesting character than the overused Master. There are also lots of interesting side characters in Stefan, Kevin; Shardlow and not a bad performance to be heard. The Story itself is decidedly ordinary, spiced up at times by explaining the origins of the Toymaker. The setting is perfectly suited to the Toymaker but the first episode does linger unnecessarily at times.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
7
Plot Rating:
5
Acting Rating:
8
Replay Rating:
6
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6
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Reviewed By: adamelijahReview Date: 4/3/15 6:27 pm
2 out of 2 found this review helpful.

The Nightmare Fair was originally written by Graham Williams to lead off Season 23 of Doctor Who. In some ways, it was typical of the Nostalgia that was in the prior season which among its six stories featured the Doctor meeting up with old foes the Cybermen, the Master, the Sontarans, and the Daleks as the Celestial Toymaker hadn't been seen since Series 23.

As a story, it's really mediocre. Most of it is fixed in a cell or in and about the Toymaker's lair. Yet, it doesn't really feel claustrophobic or atmospheric or anything else that makes it special. It's very slow paced.

It's on the character level that the story does work. Colin Baker captures the right feel for these lost stories. Through Season 22, the Sixth Doctor had been on a journey, softening a bit throughout the whole season. At the start of Season 23, when he and Peri are running around the forest, it feels like you've missed something. Here, we pick up those missing bits of development. The Peri-Doctor relationship isn't the constant sniping and arguing of early Season 22, but neither is as close knit as we see at the start of the Trial.

The Doctor has some funny scenes with Kevin, as he has some choice sarcastic remarks for the youth, who actually made a very good fill in companion. You also begin to see the Doctor's compassion and desire for justice come out when he meets Shardlow, an elderly butler who the Toymaker impressed for service for two centuries. The resolution of the plot requires the Doctor take harsh action but he takes no joy in it which is definitely a change from earlier in Season 22.

The characters wouldn't be such a saving grace, except the mystery of who the Celestial Toymaker is was the most interesting feature of the plot. The Doctor builds it up as not even the Timelords can trace his origins and the solution is epic. Though ultimately, it's the Doctor's reaction to this that really makes it impactful.

Overall, these were very fun characters and the story is well-acted with the result being that the story is far entertaining even with a plot that has a lot of flaws.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
6
Plot Rating:
NR
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Reviewed By: NetriganReview Date: 8/29/12 8:54 pm
3 out of 3 found this review helpful.

Had this hit the air-waves back in the 80s, this might have gone down as a high water mark of Colin Baker's run. A good actor playing an over-the-top villain, a location that actually works with the plot, nothing particularly difficult to capture on a BBC budget, a script which concentrates on the character of the villain rather than his dubious plan, and a couple of funny supporting characters.

But it's really not up to the standard of Colin Baker's audio stories. Good, but no where near great.