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< 7.1 - The Sons of Kaldor
7.3 - The Mind Runners >

7.2 - The Crowmarsh Experiment

Rating Votes
10
11%
2
9
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3
8
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4
7
26%
5
6
21%
4
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Average Rating
7.3
Votes
19
Fourth Doctor - Series 7.1
7.5
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Reviewed By: JMChurch25Review Date: 1/23/18 9:04 pm
0 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Leela has awaken in a strange place that she doesn't remember arriving at. She's on Earth in London 1978 at a place called the Crowmarsh Institute and no one around her even knows her as Leela. She is told that the world that she had previously known was a dream and a fantasy and her real life is as Dr. Marshall in the Institute. But she doesn't know anything about this life or anyone in it. With familiar faces taking on new roles around her, Leela begins to struggle with her mind and who she is. What is really going on, which life is real, and how long can she hold on and separate fantasy from reality when everyone and everything around her is telling her otherwise? 'Crowmarsh' is very similar to "Amy's Choice" or even "Last Christmas" from New Who but with many different twists that make it more doubtful about what's going on particularly in what the Doctor's role ends up being in the story. It's a very slow moving plot undoubtedly but with lots of fascinating existential ideas at play particular in what the Crowmarsh Institute is actually trying to accomplish with its research. The soundscape is also eerie as hell particularly in the design of the background score (or lack thereof at times) and it knows when to let things be in silence which adds to the simulation-like quality at work. Unfortunately, 'Crowmarsh' does have about as many problems as 'Choice' did though albeit in much different ways. The performances in this one are a little on the stale side with one or two exceptions. Tom Baker is good in both roles he ends up playing here which makes things all the more believable when things don't seem quite real. This story really is a tour de force for Leela however and easily the best performance that I've heard out of the character from Jameson in a long while. She's constantly fighting not only to convince everyone else of her previous life but also at the same time trying to convince herself through the confusion and the lies which is extremely powerful and interesting for her character to go through. The rest of the performances outside of the two leads feel very strained and non-plussed. I suppose it fits considering where and what things end up being but it does mean that most of the story does feel a little lifeless and sterile at times. 'Choice' did have its problems but at least there was a drive and passion to it and 'Crowmarsh' doesn't really have anything like that in it's storytelling. There is no driving force or time limit behind it along the lines of the Dream Lord that made it everything so tense and compelling and the story ends up not leaving quite as much of an impact as it thinks it will upon reaching its conclusion. That's not to say that every story needs something like that to keep things going but what 'Crowmarsh' has simply didn't interest me at all with what it did have. I feel like I'm making this story sound god awful but it really isn't. 'Crowmarsh' is honestly much better than the previous story in its containing set 'Sons of Kaldor' and it did manage to keep my interest the whole way through. It's very much worth a listen especially for it's main performance in Jameson / Leela and for playing with some different ideas that Big Finish doesn't normally get to tackle. But it does have large issues that keep it from being a great story and leave it simply as a good one. 

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Reviewed By: thisoldcanReview Date: 1/19/18 11:24 am
2 out of 4 found this review helpful.

The Crowmarsh Experiment is an extraordinary mess. The performance of Louise Jameson is about the only thing this story has going for it unfortunately, as Jameson tries to wring out something from the poor writing for her character, but in the end, she is forced to portray a hollow shell of a character throughout the story. The guest cast doesn’t fare much better, and the bizarre decision to sideline Tom Baker doesn’t do the story any favors. Llewllyn tries very hard to craft a meaningful, “maybe it was all a dream” story with faces from the past, but instead, he adds absolutely nothing to that genre of story, and instead does a disservice to the TARDIS crew that he was writing for. This is an absolute mess of a story, and one that does so little right, that it’s largely a waste of time to listen to it.