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< 6.7 - The Movellan Grave
6.9 - The Thief Who Stole Time >

6.8 - The Skin of the Sleek

Rating Votes
10
21%
3
9
14%
2
8
14%
2
7
14%
2
6
21%
3
5
7%
1
4
7%
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Average Rating
7.5
Votes
14
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From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
6
Plot Rating:
7
Acting Rating:
8
Replay Rating:
5
Effects Rating:
7
Has Prerequisite(s):
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Reviewed By: JMChurch25Review Date: 9/13/17 3:49 pm
0 out of 1 found this review helpful.

The first of a two part story that concludes with the following story 'The Thief Who Stole Time', the Fourth Doctor and Romana II land on the gelatinous planet of Funderell. With a landscape of no solid land, villages of hunters dotting the floating surface, and giant electric eel monsters called Sleeks deep below it is a somewhat strange and inhospitable world that nobody in their right mind would want to visit. Fortunately though when the Doctor and Romana lose the TARDIS to the depths, there is another Time Lord who just so happens to be nearby. Sartiacaradinora (or 'Sartia') is an old friend of Romana's from the Prydon Academy and she would be more than willing to help with her team. But very little is at it seems on this planet. Who exactly is Sartia and is she who Romana thinks she is? What's the deal with a mysterious book guarded by the inhabitants who seem to have forgotten what it is? And what other secrets are at play here that even the Time Lords seem to be hiding? Being the first part of a two parter, 'Skin' takes a pretty standard route in being mostly set up and build with not too much payoff (at least not yet). There is a lot to like here but at the same time there was a lot that I was completely bored with unfortunately. While the Funderellian culture has a lot of potential and the mystical elements surrounding the McGuffin book being kept are fascinating, I found it the majority of it quite dull especially with the strong focus on it at the beginning of the story. Sort of like what would happen if the Pirates of the Caribbean films went sci-fi, it's a world of pirates, sea gods, and dark mysteries all around that we've seen a lot of before. However, it does get more and more interesting the further the story goes and there are thankfully quite a few good moments here. The monstrous titular Sleek is incredibly threatening and the tension is extremely high by the end of the story which makes me curious as to how Part 2 will play out. The cast is standard for this kind of audio in that the main cast is great but the side cast is dull. While Tom Baker as Four is perfect as always, he doesn't really get too much to do in this one compared to the other cast members. This is really Lalla Ward / Romana's story and her interactions with Sartia are what drive this story for me. Ward is at her best as Romana and she really elevates the story where it needs to be for it to work. Sartia (Joannah Tincey) is almost Romana's equivalent of the Master in many respects especially when you realize what she's truly here for and I really hope we see more of her because she's a great addition to the cast. The rest of the audio is appropriate enough with the proper conflicts you would expect all coming in to play with no real surprises until the end. Overall, this isn't an extraordinary Fourth Doctor story but I'm liking it well enough so far and there are enough good things in it to give it a recommendation provided its second part follows through.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
8
Plot Rating:
7
Acting Rating:
9
Replay Rating:
8
Effects Rating:
8
Has Prerequisite(s):
No
Reviewed By: thisoldcanReview Date: 8/30/17 3:54 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

In The Skin of the Sleek, the Doctor (Tom Baker) and Romana (Lalla Ward) arrive on the planet Funderell, an aquatic planet where giant electric eels known as Sleek swim under the surface. But soon the TARDIS is lost to the depths and the Doctor and Romana are separated, and the two find themselves encountering old friends and new enemies. Something strange is happening on Funderell, and if the Doctor and Romana aren't careful, they may find themselves underwater. The Skin of the Sleek is a refreshing start to the finale of this series of the Fourth Doctor Adventures. With a strong performance by Baker, and an even stronger performance by Ward, the main cast shines here. The strong guest cast and the excellent script by Marc Platt help this story to really stand out from other finales from this range, resulting in one of the best stories from this series.

Tom Baker and Lalla Ward star as the Fourth Doctor and Romana II in this story. Baker is on top form as usual, sounding a little older, but missing none of that charm and fury that made him so fascinating in the role. I like how his performance is similar to another recent story of his, Night of the Vashta Nerada, where, rather than being his obfuscating, charming, funny Doctor, he takes on a more serious tack over the course of the story. But really, it's Lalla War who shines most in this story as Romana. She hasn't sounded this youthful in ages, thanks to the casting of Joannah Tincey as her old school friend Sartia, with Ward letting her hair down a bit, and letting shades of the TV series Romana shine out in her performance. But it's the final scene, with her begging Sartia for answers as she's abandoned on the sea, that's the best moment of the story. Ward's emotions really come through to the surface here, and it really put me into the story of a woman who was just betrayed by someone she thought was her best friend.

Marc Platt delivered a very strong script here for this story. The story of a floating village on an abandoned planet with another Time Lord is already an interesting enough story, but Platt supplemented the story with some great dialogue and exceedingly strong character moments, making an excellent story in the end. There were a lot of really interesting story ideas in this story; I quite liked the idea of Sartia killing the god of the floating village, as it sets up a really fascinating conflict between the people of the village and the Doctor's group. I also really enjoyed the idea of a planet where you could sink if you stood still too long, but that was teeming with danger underneath the surface. But Platt's script was at it's peak when it was focusing on little character moments. Things like Romana's youthful personality throughout the story owe something to the direction of Ken Bentley, but it's nice that Platt wrote in a more youthful Romana, as it really elevated the story. But other little moments, like Sartia's musing over the death of Funderell's Daughter, and the scene where Sartia abandons Romana stick out because of some excellent writing by Platt. If I can find one criticism of his play, it's that the reveal of Sartia's hatred for Romana doesn't really come as a shock, but more of a tepid wimper. But it's forgotten given the betrayal that Ward conveys in that scene, so I'm not holding that against it too much.

Overall, The Skin of the Sleek starts off the Series 6 finale right, with a strong tale of monsters, old friends, and treachery. Tom Baker is on top form, as always, but it's Lalla War who steals the show as Romana, giving a powerful performance throughout. The guest cast, with members such as Tincey and Newall, was strong as well, and Marc Platt's script was an enjoyable creation. The script was at it's best when it was focusing on more intimate character moments, but it was also a really great story about a small village doing what it can to survive. It sets up an interesting conflict in next month's story, and one I'm very excited to hear.