2 out of 3 found this review helpful.
After his earlier whimsical tale for the second season of Fourth Doctor Adventures, Jonathan Morris, has decided to focus more inward for a proper slice of The Seeds Of Doom mixed with The Tomb Of The Cybermen. And while it can never be counted as one of the most original scripts ever, with a lot of ideas being taken from earlier stories, it's still an enjoyable piece of fiction with plenty to recommend it. The idea of setting a story in a submarine is a great one, it's just a pity that Cold War literally piped Big Finish to the post about a month or so before, because the ideas here are so very strong. Sure, the concept of super-intelligent squid may seem outlandish, but Doctor Who often worked best when being prepared to be outlandish and attempt to do something different. This may seem an extreme example of that, but it's making a clear point. But I just loved the fact that Morris managed to maintain the contained feeling of the story, without the need to branch out into the fantastical and the epic. He just keeps the story flowing with the right amount of ideas for an hour-long story so that it doesn't feel too crowded. Each individual idea is given the right amount of space, and this therefore produces a really enjoyable listen. While the K9 is possessed angle may seem a little derivative, it just enhances the story to be there, and makes a great and chilling cliffhanger with K9's final line. I just love the traditional feel that Morris is going for here, because it just makes the story such an easy listen. While I don't think character is as key here as it has been to some of the other stories this season, I was still able to identify with them. My only character quibble would be that they were a little samey, and the real purpose as to why they were in the Mariana Trench feels a little tacked on to give the character of Sawyer a little depth, which could have been better integrated into the story. However, the acting is spot on, with Tom Baker leading a very confident crowd, with John Leeson relishing the chance to final get something more to do. Mary Tamm, Alice Krige, John Albasiny, Charlie Norfolk and Gwilym Lee also form a very strong ensemble, and no one performer dominates over the others, making this a very strong cast. Ken Bentley's direction should also be praised, because it's so very strong and helps at creating that ensemble feel. And finally, Jamie Robertson's music and sound design ties it all off in a little bow that's perfectly enjoyable, and it just binds the story together. I can't see Phantoms Of The Deep being anyone's favourite Big Finish audio, but it's one that is perfectly enjoyable, and with a strong script, acting and direction, it's a very solid release in what is a very variable season.