Reviewed By: Kamelion
Review Date: 3/17/19 11:32 am
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Location : City of Winter - The only known city on unknown planet
Time / Date : Unknown
Until the summer of 2014 Big Finish subscribers used to be able to enjoy a new monthly release with an early Doctor from mostly the 1-3 eras with an occasional 4th Doctor thrown in with what they used to call the Companion Chronicles. Then they skipped a year, released a final one in summer of 2015 then went to the box set format of just a few per year. Yet shortly after this new series format The Early Adventures began. From what I have taken in of this new format, the stories still seem to remain more focused on the companions where the major difference is the voice drama of the Doctor himself, back. This is a massive improvement to my liking of these older adventures and they have a surprisingly well done recreation of the era.
Occupation has a few pesky flaws which I will point out first then get on to some praise. One thing that stands out as a plot problem to me is that when the Doctor & Vicki met the Dalek Ambassador for the first time it clearly demanded (extremely loudly) that they identify themselves. They simply ignored this demand and it is a little hard to believe that the Dalek would just give up in regards to something so important at the time. Secondly there is a sound production error when when Stephen is speaking with Amala Vost on the street it sounds as if she is in a tunnel with a large level of echo. It is difficult to believe that Big Finish didn't "finish" this story by having a sound editor check it over first to eliminate something so obviously distracting.
While the Daleks do occupy this planet the author David K Barnes fails to properly explain what planet they are on and not even when in time this is. To me this is not responsible in a tale of time travel. For the Doctor to just pawn this off on the TARDIS with "She doesn't know where we are" is just lame. What we will learn of the occupation, this is also the only public employment on this planet, making Daleks. From the cases to the secret lab where the internal portions of the beasts are then installed for activation. The residents of the city believe that they are simply robots.
Going back to the beginning of this story the events that start to reveal the problems here are when the Doctor and Vicki find large amounts of fresh fruits, peaches and pomegranates specifically in abundance on a planet that has a 500 year old winter. These arrive at the trade hub according to one fruit vendor. The city is in the middle of a graduation celebration where young men and women coming of age are being sent away for the rest of their lives to work in what is described as an elite honor. What can not be explained by their relatives however is why they can never return home.
I found this to be a very enjoyable story and I do agree with other reviewers whom have called this possibly the best of the Early Adventures. Yet I can not overlook the plot hole or error, the sound production error nor the error of the author to name the planet and date and point in time. Had those issues been fixed before this was released I would have gave it a solid 9 but authors in particular need to be held to an acceptable level of responsibility when being entrusted to tell a tale of time travel to actually tell the time and location. To me that's a no-brainer and failure to do so does not really have any excuse.