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< 3.4 - The Sontarans
4.2 - The Outliers >

4.1 - The Night Witches

Rating Votes
10
7%
2
9
43%
12
8
14%
4
7
29%
8
6
0%
0
5
4%
1
4
4%
1
3
0%
0
2
0%
0
1
0%
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Average Rating
8.0
Votes
28
Cover Art:
Director:
Sound Design:
Writer:

Latest Community Reviews

From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
7
Plot Rating:
8
Acting Rating:
8
Replay Rating:
7
Effects Rating:
7
Has Prerequisite(s):
No
Reviewed By: JMChurch25Review Date: 2/21/19 7:12 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

In teaching Ben, Polly, and Jamie how to fly the TARDIS, the Second Doctor accidentally brings his team to Russia 1942 in the middle of WWII. When they rescue a young female pilot from the snowy landscape after a small skirmish, they are soon captured by a group of aviators known ominously as the Night Witches. But a strange connection is brought to light when one of the pilots is found to bear an exact resemblance to Polly herself and thus by superstition one of the two is expected to die.....

'Night Witches' is a good historical for the Second Doctor team that plays with the exact double idea at the same time to varying degrees of success. The soundscape is incredibly good with lots of chilly vibes, loud explosions, and aerial / land-based machines in various forms of combat. The premise by Roland Moore centers on a part of the war that I don't think too many people will have heard of and it's a fantastic idea that brings a strongly diverse cast with it. Each member of the Witches themselves is very interesting and played by some of the strongest cast members I've heard in an audio format. They feel like a fully fleshed-out unit that you sincerely admire even as they are sometimes forced to work against our mains.

Speaking of our team, it's a decent story for them even if one or two feel a bit underutilized. Both Ben and the Doctor get a lot of strong moments and drama and Polly is the obvious focus of the story delivering strong emotion and raised stakes as the bigger twists begin to happen. But Jamie doesn't do much more other than follow the Doctor around and provide his distinct voice despite Frazer Hines, as usual, being fabulous in playing multiple roles. Despite a lot of the good, this story does have a few significant problems. The length on this really gets exhausting by the end and there are a lot of moments of forced tension that feel extremely unnecessary. Despite how much the bigger twist with the doppelganger character is played up, not much comes of it outside of some neat character interactions and in how it influences the rest of the cast around them. Thankfully, the smaller pieces and bigger picture still work well especially with narration provided by Wills that helps a lot in keeping the story going.

I wouldn't say it's absolutely necessary listening for this team and I can think of a few other stories I would rather listen to again over this one. That's not to say that this story is in any way bad though and 'Night Witches' is still a fine release and well worth hearing if you like the setting or this team. 
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
7
Plot Rating:
7
Acting Rating:
8
Replay Rating:
7
Effects Rating:
8
Has Prerequisite(s):
Unsure
Reviewed By: adamelijahReview Date: 8/26/18 5:51 am
0 out of 1 found this review helpful.

The Doctor, Jamie, Polly, and Ben find themselves in Russia during World War II where the "night witches," an all-female group of pilots flying a variety of old planes to push back against the German attack. The TARDIS crew rescues one of their pilots but are suspected of being spies because Polly could be a doppelganger for their best pilot.

This story does job talking about an important, though little-known aspect of World War II. It also gives some good emotional material for both Polly and Ben as well as some of the "Night Witches" who are suffering fatigue and other mental problems on a long arduous campaign with not enough nutrition. The plot also has some surprising turns in it.

What does hurt the story is there are several contrived moments, particularly in the final episode that are really hard to swallow as a well unrealistic bits. Still, overall, it's a pretty good release.

Other Recommendations

From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
9
Plot Rating:
8
Acting Rating:
9
Replay Rating:
8
Effects Rating:
9
Has Prerequisite(s):
Unsure
Reviewed By: BrainofMorbius23Review Date: 7/14/18 8:34 am
0 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Extremely warm welcome to the early adventures range for me.
It’s a great historical which gives everyone something to do. It also has a relatively fresh setting and cast.
Excellent kick off for the fourth wave of this range. I’m sold. I shall be grabbing a few of these next pay !
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
9
Plot Rating:
8
Acting Rating:
10
Replay Rating:
9
Effects Rating:
9
Has Prerequisite(s):
No
Reviewed By: thisoldcanReview Date: 9/26/17 12:11 am
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

In The Night Witches, the Doctor and his friends are waylaid from their adventure when they arrive north of Stalingrad in 1942. There, they encounter the Night Witches, an all female group of bombers, working to protect Stalingrad. But things aren't looking good for the Night Witches, as provisions run low and German tanks swarm just over the hills. But the commander of the Night Witches has a plan she thinks will win them the battle; but to do that is to risk the death of one of the Doctor's friends. The Night Witches was an enjoyable release, mostly due to the great performance by Anneke Wills as Polly Wright, as well as enjoyable guest performances by several cast members. Roland Moore's story, his first for Big Finish, plays out well, as an enjoyable, nihilistic drama about desperate people doing desperate things. Mixed together with an excellent cover, and some great sound design work, the result is an enjoyable story from a first time writer that gives us a look at an interesting historical area.

Anneke Wills and Frazer Hines both star in this story, with Wills as Polly and the Narrator, and Hines as Jamie and the voice of the Second Doctor. Wills is one of the highlights of the cast for this story, getting a brilliantly written role in this story, and then taking that and turning in an excellent performance as well. She gives a rather tragic and powerful performance, especially in the latter half of the story, as she laments the Doctor and Jamie's deaths and her situation, after being left by Tatiana (Anjella Mackintosh) to die behind enemy lines. But Wills portrays Polly as clearly devastated by the loss of the Doctor and Jamie, but with a sense of purpose that she must honour their legacy and try to survive. But throughout the entire story, she's strong as she never gives up, trying so hard to do the right thing, even as she's threatened with death. Hines takes a bit of a backseat here in both roles, but nonetheless does a good job when the time comes for him to turn up. I've noticed that in recent years, his Troughton impression, once pitch perfect, is slipping, and I'm noticing that I can start to hear more of Hines in his performance. But his impression is still great, and throughout the story, he does a great job as both the Doctor and Jamie.

It's difficult to talk about the guest cast for this story, because each and every one of them were absolutely stellar throughout the story. Elliot Chapman continues to shine as Ben Jackson, with his version of Ben here ever so slightly uncomfortable in the situation, but also steps up to the plate when needed, such as helping out members of the Night Witches because it the right thing to do. Anjella Mackintosh is excellent as Tatiana Kregki, the Night Witch who looks identical to Polly. She gives a tragic performance of a person jaded and tired of war, willing to do whatever is needed to escape it, even if that means dooming another human being. The real MVP of the guest cast comes in the form of Wanda Opalinska, who was excellent as the mistrustful Nadia Vasney, commander of the Night Witches. Opalinska is able to keep up with her character's shifting, conflicting actions and thoughts with an excellent performance, running the gamut from mistrustful to flat out murderous to sincere and heartbroken. Her arc is probably my favorite of the story. Rounding out the guest cast is the excellent Kristina Buikaite as Lilya Grankin, the one Night Witch who trusts the TARDIS crew. Buikaite has a smaller role throughout the story, but is very memorable as Lilya throughout the story.

Roland Moore steps behind the writer's desk for the first time at Big Finish with an excellent story about World War II Russia and an overlooked group of fighters. Moore is no stranger to looking at female World War II fighters, as his show Land Girls looked at the lives of the Women's Land Army. As such, his story is rather superb, giving a look at a group of women in a desperate, horrific scenario, and showing how the horrors of war have affected them. I particularly liked how throughout the story, nobody was ever quite sure if the Doctor and his friends were Nazi spies. It made for an interesting, tension-filled story throughout, as the Night Witches constantly flip-flopped on the idea, especially so with Nadia. I also quite liked how the story never shows or talks about what happens to the Night Witches; it almost cements their legendary status within the Doctor Who universe by not giving them a real conclusion. Beyond just story points, I also loved the writing for the characters in this story, as they felt very true to how the characters would be at that point in their lives. Polly in particular was well written in my opinion, as she was meant to run the gamut of the emotional spectrum throughout the story. Similarly, I thought the writing for the three main Night Witches and Ben was excellent as well; the Night Witches felt like actual soldiers, in that they were on edge and not very trusting.

The last part of this review I'd like to mention is the cover artwork for this release, done by Tom Webster. Webster's cover design work is usually pretty good, but here, he's outdone himself with this one, a bright, bold cover that conveys the main themes of the story right away. Right off the bat, the thing that jumps out most of all is the striking colours, especially the red streaks, and the red colouring for Polly, though other aspects of the cover stick out too. While the cover feels a little busy at first, I quite like it having listened to the story, because it almost thematically matches the story. The mishmash of planes flying all over the screen and the numerous explosions really gives a sense of being in the midst of World War II right away.

Overall, The Night Witches is a great story. It's got a stellar cast throughout, especially Anneke Wills as Polly, but the guest cast is also surprisingly deep and stellar, with Elliot Chapman, Anjella Mackintosh, and Wanda Opalinska especially standing out. Even Frazer Hines and Kristina Buikaite, who both had smaller roles in this release, were excellent in the few scenes they had. Roland Moore's story was similarly excellent, drawing upon his strengths as a writer, resulting in an excellent period drama, and an enjoyable showcase for the Night Witches. I particularly liked the writing of the Night Witches and their characters, and I also quite liked the progression of the story. Overall, it was a great start to this year's run of Early Adventures, and one I hope is a forebear of excellent stories this series.