Reviewed By: gold1104
Review Date: 6/25/14 7:13 pm
1 out of 4 found this review helpful.
I wish i liked this one more than I do, but my abiding memory is of listening to the play a little time after finishing the magnificent FOE FROM THE FUTURE and feeling disappointed. Perhaps those for whom VALLEY OF DEATH is a favourite may think I'm being unfair. I should add that I don't hate VALLEY. But not hating it isn't much of a recommendation.
As others have commented it's strangely unrepresentative of Tom Baker's early seasons and seems an odd choice for Philip Hinchcliffe to write a script partly based in an Amazon rainforest, complete with hostile natives, lost cities, giant wildlife etc. Would this actually have been something a 1970's DR WHO budget could have credibly realised? I strongly suspect not. In fact it sounds like it had the potential to be a Myrka-sized disaster. Is this why it was shelved?
Having said that and taking it on it's own merits as a revamped audio play, I would say it's so-so. Matters are helped by the performances of most of the cast. Tom and Louise sound like they're having a good time, and Jane Slavin and Anthony Howell do their best to flesh out what feel like rather underwritten characters (she's headstrong and aggressively go-getting, he's well-meaning but a bit of a wimp and a twit and err...that's basically it). Nigel Carrington's Godwin - who for much of the play is the main villain - gets to be despicable and treacherous in mildly entertaing ways but he's no more than a cartoon baddie and (perhaps for no other reason than the script suggests it) the performance verges on caricature. As for his species, the Lurons are generic aliens out to destroy mankind with not too much to make them different from say, the Kraals or the Axons (etc). Because DR WHO has seen quite a lot of these kinds of invaders in its history, they don't stand out and are not sufficiently interesting as villains.
On the plus side the sound design is excellent, the pace is fit for purpose and the plotting is crisp and clear. I was never bored or confused, I simply wasn't gripped or transported. I'm glad all concerned made the effort to do VALLEY OF DEATH, and it's a marked improvement on certain other Lost Stories (e.g. PRISON IN SPACE, THE HOLLOWS OF TIME or MISSION TO MAGNUS) I just can't get wildly excited about it. Perhaps I should have listened to it before FOE FROM THE FUTURE? 6/10