Reviewed By: JMChurch25
Review Date: 12/4/18 9:31 pm
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After the disaster that was 'Hollows of Time', my enthusiasm was significantly dampened as I ventured into the next audio for Six and Peri in their Lost Stories not all helped by a somewhat lackluster synopsis behind it that sounded bland and predictable. The Doctor is again checking on an old friend (which Peri hilariously acknowledges might be a bad idea considering past adventures), this time on an alien planet covered to the brink with automated hotels. An academic theoretician, he was last seen taking a shuttle to the nearby resort of Paradise 5 orbiting a planet with a hellish landscape of lava and heat. While Peri poses as a hostess under the station's employment, the Doctor goes into stealth mode to find out more about what happened to his friend. But the resort has dark secrets hidden underneath its luxurious white and gold trappings, its minimalist staff, and its enslaved mute workers. Something mystical is coming to the station from beyond the higher dimensions with ideas of grandeur and a need for an army.....It doesn't sound particularly intriguing on the surface and a lot of the plot elements are very linear and standard plot-wise. But color me surprised when I say that I really enjoyed "Paradise 5" and found myself immensely engaged with it. A lot of that comes down to the smaller elements and ideas around the resort itself. There are some interesting ideas here that quite literally play with the mind buoyed with lavish descriptions that make it seem very real and exotic for a space station. I also love that this new script doesn't require any prior knowledge of other stories or monsters from other adventures. This is one that anyone can jump into and the narrative is more than strong enough to support it. A lot of what makes it good also comes down to a great cast with some very strong performances. Colin Baker is great in particular highlighting an intelligent but rather bombastic Sixth Doctor that's characterized exceedingly well. I was surprised at how much of his softer side was present here considering that this is technically an older script even it has been adapted by a modern day writer. But Nicola Bryant is fabulous in this one actually getting to do more than what she usually handles in her standard companion role. I love that she actually gets to use her mind and some fairly clever logic to handle her undercover investigations and she even gets some strong dialogue that highlights her position at the station as well as a companion to the Doctor. She's more the star of the first half of the story than the Doctor though he, of course, gets more than enough to do especially in the second half of the story when he publically arrives at the resort. In terms of the side cast, most of them are fine with one particular standout. Alex MacQueen in his first Doctor Who appearance before his later Masterful roles is amazing using his very distinct voice to give his character Gabriel a very memorable aura though no points given if you automatically figure out that he's tied to the villains of the story. Speaking of which, the Elohim are a really cool concept as an alien menace with a strong presence and look that compliments their existence nicely. There are also many fun clues that hint at their existence (the names of everyone associated with them for instance) and what they are actually doing with the residents of the resort ends up being a nice little twist that's set up well but I didn't see coming. Along with some interesting symbolism and metaphors at play and some very strong dialogue guiding everything through, "Paradise 5" is a real win and the highlight of the Lost Stories so far. While the others up to this point had been relatively lackluster or outright bad, this is one that I'm glad was salvaged from the dark times of the show.