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< 11. The Apocalypse Element
13. The Shadow of the Scourge >

12. The Fires of Vulcan

Rating Votes
10
19%
33
9
32%
55
8
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51
7
11%
18
6
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9
5
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Average Rating
8.4
Votes
170
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User Rating:
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Reviewed By: NewWorldreviewsReview Date: 8/27/17 8:10 pm
4 out of 4 found this review helpful.

Considering the very mixed reception of season 24, it was a surprise that Big Finish attempted a release set in that period of the show's history in such an early release. However, it was a gamble that paid off, because The Fires Of Vulcan is easily one of the more impressive entries in the early Main Range.

Like The Marian Conspiracy, The Fires Of Vulcan is basically a pure historical, interlaced with some fundamental time-travel ideas. In this case, it's that, according to some previous foreknowledge, the Doctor knows he is going to lose the TARDIS when he visits Pompeii, and so, when he arrives in the city the day before Vesuvius erupts, he knows what's going to happen to him and Mel. The whole thing is laced with the same doom-ladened feel as The Massacre, and it gives Sylvester McCoy a wonderful chance to shine as a Doctor who's foreknowledge weighs heavily on him. And Mel is great in this: she gets the chance to be brave and heroic, but not insufferable like in the TV series, and Bonnie Langford rises to the occasion magnificently. The guest characters in this are also fantastic: each one is well-rounded and developed, with each feeling like their own independent person. Certainly, a couple felt a bit one-note at points, but the performances smoothed that out.

Coupled with some very impressive music and sound design, The Fires Of Vulcan is one of the standout early Big Finish releases, combining a mature and sophisticated script with some wonderful performances to create a very pleasurable four-part story.
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Reviewed By: Drew VogelReview Date: 4/11/17 11:19 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

What a contrast this makes to the previous release in terms of scope and scale, and yet this story is far more engaging, involving, and memorable. This is a so-called “pure historical”, but it's done in a way that is very appropriate for the seventh Doctor and Mel. Despite the plot complexities required by the time-puzzle nature of the piece, the story is refreshingly straightforward: the Doctor and Mel have to find the TARDIS before it's too late, and various other characters keep getting in their way. The supporting characters are not especially deep or complex, but they have strong and clearly developed motivations to justify their roles in the plot.

Everyone talks about what a revelation Mel is, but there's just no getting around it. She carries more than her fair share of the story. That alone is a great improvement over how she was used on television, but Steve Lyons also found a way soften Mel's rough edges while staying true to the character we all remember.
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Reviewed By: newt5996Review Date: 6/4/16 12:54 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

You know The Fires of Pompeii right? Well The Fires of Vulcan is a story that does the same basic plotline, but does it thousands of times better. But Jacob I hear some of you asking, how can an audio be better than anything televised Doctor Who could put out? Well there are several reasons that Steve Lyons’ story is much better than James Moran’s script but first is the tone and the way the Doctor is portrayed. While Moran’s script deals with some tough topics and dilemmas his tone still remains relatively light while Steve Lyon’s can only be described as morose. The plot involves the Doctor and Mel landing in Pompeii the night before Vesuvius’ eruption, but instead of leaving the Doctor has to stay because in his Fifth incarnation the TARDIS was found in the ruins. The morose tone comes from the absolute hopelessness of knowing the volcano is going to blow and the Doctor can’t leave. Sylvester McCoy gives one of his best performances as the Doctor, even though the story is firmly planted in Season 24 where the order of the day was a lot of humor. McCoy’s melancholy attitude only adds to the tone and atmosphere. Yes he gets a few humorous moments in the story, particularly trying to get Mel not to be suspicious of his motives for leaving, but they are few and far between staying in line with the morose tone. But enough of the comparison, so let’s move on to the main attraction of the story, the plot.



The plot also involves no extraterrestrial elements outside of the TARDIS, going for another pure historical. Now this should have failed as it is the companion’s job to make the historical setting work in context and this story’s companion just happened to be the much loathed Melanie Bush played by Bonnie Langford. Yet much like their redemption of the Sixth Doctor, Big Finish almost immediately redeem the character by turning into a smart, quick-witted young woman and not the screamer we saw on television. Bonnie Langford’s performance is a lot better than ever on TV as she has grown up a lot in the years between Dragonfire and The Fires of Vulcan. She’s still her usual happy and optimistic self which serves as contrast to the Doctor’s morose attitude as she is convinced she can find a way out of it. The writing also has Mel give us a great view on Roman society as she does quite like it, but is appalled at the sexist and less than pleasant portions of the culture. She hates the idea of slaves as much as the next person but the suggestion that the female slaves will have to pleasure their masters makes her face red with outrage. Yes it’s possible for even Mel to be likable here and no longer the worst companion of all time in my book.



I also have to give props to master of sound Alistair Lock who is responsible for the sound design and the music of the story. While the music isn’t very catchy, per say, it immediately transports you back to Ancient Pompeii and helps set the mood from the word go, getting you ready for the historical drama that is about to follow. The supporting cast would probably have to be the only weak spot in the story. Some of them are fine, especially Gemma Bissix slave Aglae who becomes companion to Mel and has really good chemistry and the main villain of the piece Eumachia played by Lisa Hollander. Both actresses have some great chemistry with the lead actors and give it their all. The rest of the cast however seems really quite bland in comparison to the others. You have a barkeep and a gladiator who are both there to make us feel bad about the coming volcano. There’s a soldier who wants to well get with Mel, but he is played by Steven Whickham who is so underwhelming you can barely tell he has any feelings towards Mel. Also the solution to the story is a little weak as if you know anything about how Vesuvius erupted, you can guess it at the very beginning

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Reviewed By: adamelijahReview Date: 4/5/16 3:26 am
2 out of 2 found this review helpful.

A pure historical that finds the Seventh Doctor and Mel in Pompeii just before the volcano wiped the city out. Pompeii is beautifully realized and filled with authentic characters who have realistic motivations that are fully explored. One of the best examples of this is the gladiator who wants to kill the Doctor because he fears that if word spreads of how the Doctor beat him at dice it could hurt his popularity which could cost him his life in the arena. It's that level of detail and authenticity that makes this story a standout.

More than that, Sylvester McCoy and Bonnie Langford have never been better. For those who might blame them for a weak twenty-fourth season, the Fires of Vulcan illustrates what they can do when given a good script. And this story works as it raises the stakes for the Doctor and Companion as they have real reason to fear that Pompeii may be the resting place of the TARDIS for thousands of years as well as their own. McCoy has never shown more pathos than in this story.

Overall, this is an absolute delight and ranks with the best historicals Doctor Who has ever done.

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