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< 41. Nekromanteia
43. Doctor Who and The Pirates >

42. The Dark Flame

Rating Votes
10
1%
1
9
6%
6
8
11%
12
7
18%
19
6
24%
25
5
15%
16
4
13%
14
3
6%
6
2
5%
5
1
2%
2
Average Rating
5.7
Votes
106
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From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
7
Plot Rating:
7
Acting Rating:
7
Replay Rating:
7
Effects Rating:
7
Has Prerequisite(s):
No
Reviewed By: Drew VogelReview Date: 7/1/17 8:33 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

Oh my. Another ancient cult. Another "relic". Seriously? There was plenty of that in "Nekromanteia". This story is not that grim, and it's a lot more enjoyable, but it's pretty generic. There's a macguffin and a hidden conspiracy. There are betrayals. There is technobabble. There are deaths. And the Doctor saves the day in the end with resourcefulness and a bit of cheek. You know... that one.

The fact that Benny is in the story invites inevitable but unfair comparisons to "The Shadow of the Scourge". That story was designed to be homage to the Virgin New Adventures, and written by one of the NA's most definitive authors, Paul Cornell. This story is just supposed to be a Big Finish main range release with Benny in the mix. It's not the same thing at all.

Interestingly, it suggests a fascinating origin for the character of Joseph the Porter from the Bernice Summerfield series. That's a pointless bit of continuity, but it's nice. The story works just as well even if you have never heard Joseph before, but it's a little extra treat for Benny fans.

Unfortunately, the story overall is just kind of bland and unmemorable. There's nothing terribly wrong with it. It's fine.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
4
Plot Rating:
4
Acting Rating:
6
Replay Rating:
6
Effects Rating:
6
Has Prerequisite(s):
No
Reviewed By: adamelijahReview Date: 10/29/16 7:38 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

The Dark Flame is a pretty standard Doctor Who story with Bernice Summerfield thrown in for good measure. The ideas aren't original, but if well executed, the story would be a fair, enjoyable, if not remarkable bit of Doctor Who. However, the execution of this idea makes it below average at best. The characterization of the heroes is the main problem. Around the third episode, Bernice and the Doctor's lines crossed the line between "laughs in the face of danger" and "insufferably smug." Ace is better here than in her last appearance, but the character has a few off moments as well. Like some other Big Finish stories, this release also tried to push boundaries to be more "adult" but instead came off as unpleasant. Overall, a disappointing and uncompelling release.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
6
Plot Rating:
4
Acting Rating:
8
Replay Rating:
6
Effects Rating:
6
Has Prerequisite(s):
No
Reviewed By: newt5996Review Date: 8/6/16 8:28 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

Trevor Baxendale as the choice for the writer for The Dark Flame is an odd one as although he has written Doctor Who novels, he never wrote for the Virgin Doctor Who Novels. That is a real shame as Baxendale creates an atmosphere straight out of the Virgin New Adventures of the period almost better than Paul Cornell’s The Shadow of the Scourge. It’s a story that nails the characters so well it is almost like this was meant to be a pitch for the Virgin New Adventures but was rejected for having its characters get along. The placement of this story is after All-Consuming Fire when the Doctor, Ace and Benny were getting along at their best here which is refreshing and really makes the story quite humorous as they in turn tease each other for their flaws which I just love. Sophie Aldred and Lisa Bowerman steal the show as Ace and Benny as they give their best performances ever. Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor is also great as he has quite a lot to do here especially at the end as he goes into a mind battle a la The Brain of Morbius, but here as it is audio and McCoy is less arrogant than Tom Baker, the mind battle is really tense as the Seventh Doctor is almost given total and absolute power over time and space which allows the end to be an actual deus ex machina with the Doctor as the god in the machine.





This all fits in the plot which sees the Doctor, Ace and Benny mixed up with the resurrection of Vilus Krull the leader of the cult of the dark flame which promises eternal power and of course Krull wants to take over the world. This is full of vivid imagery of people getting their eyes removed and just a lot of murder which I adore in the story as it really makes you feel that Doctor Who can do these dark subjects. It helps that Baxendale does a good job at creating his supporting characters as they are all unique. Krull is the weakest character with a paper thin motivation as he just wants to control the world. Remnex, the dead body that Krull possesses, is also weak as he gets one scene before his death with the establishment that he is the Doctor’s friend so has very little time for any real characterization. They are played by the same actor who does give a good performance as both of them. Joseph is a much more interesting character who is basically the opposite of Marvin the Paranoid Android. Joesph isn’t depressed he is only a pessimist who loves his work even if he doesn’t have the capacity for enjoyment. His self-sacrifice is genuinely emotional. Slyde is the only other character who gives a good performance as Michael Praed has one of those voices which just make for a good and enjoyable listen. Slyde is a murderer which the Doctor allows to go free so he doesn’t create a paradox involving the withering of Benny’s hand and the nature of Remnex’s death.





The story may be a good one with an atmosphere on point with The Shadow of the Scourge, but it isn’t nearly as good. This can be put down to a couple of things, first off the pacing is off which can make some of the portions of the audio to be very boring and difficult to get through. I also feel as the direction is falling flat especially compared to Jason Haigh-Ellery’s last effort with The Rapture and the music is also pretty bland sounding like generic stuff composed by an amateur. Even though I said the deus ex machina was creative it doesn’t forgive it for being a deus ex machina which doesn’t really amount to anything. Baxendale and any writer should know that if you reference the problem of your story it doesn’t forgive it for being a problem.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
7
Plot Rating:
7
Acting Rating:
8
Replay Rating:
7
Effects Rating:
7
Has Prerequisite(s):
No
Reviewed By: traves8853Review Date: 9/3/15 3:26 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

The Dark Flame by Trevor Baxendale featuring Ace and Bernice Summerfield is an occult thriller in space. The Doctor goes to collect Bernice from research centre Orbos, where she has been working with 'Remnex', a friend of the Doctor. On the way the TARDIS' telepathic circuits pick up a scream. 'Victor' and his android ‘Joseph’ uncover an ancient alien artefact. Remnex is eventually murdered, and occultists attempt to bring about Armageddon.

McCoy and Aldred's performances seem to lack their usual sharpness, but are still pretty good. The plot is as generic as any 'Base under siege' story. It bears a lot of similarity to ‘Dust Breeding’ but better in my opinion, although not by much. The dialogue is bright and witty in places. The music and effects are pretty standard. 'Joseph' the android has to be the break out character here. He went on to appear in later stories in 'the Benice Summerfeild' and 'Virgin's New Adventures' ranges after leaving with Bernice at the end of this tale. Not having heard or read anything with 'Bernice Summerfield' in she didn't leave much of an impression but only going on audio impressions it takes a while to get a feel for the character. I don’t think the story really needed Bernice and Ace. The softly spoken reptile like 'Slyde' and his butler 'Broke' are just the right side of over the top and mirror 'Victor' and 'Joseph'.

It's a traditional Doctor Who story and very enjoyable. It's not going to win any accolades but being £2.99 for a download then it's a little bargain