“Geronimo, Lenin’s pyjamas, tiddlywinks with the Tsarina and now you can see the future? Come on Doctor you are pulling my leg!”
Well it finally happened. After months of buying and reviewing 2000ad audio drama’s, and seeing Doctor Who audio’s advertised left right and centre, I decided to buy one to see what all the fuss was about. Being a Doctor Who virgin, having only seen a handful of episodes and the tv movie, I decided to bank on the incarnation of the timelord I know most about- the eighth Doctor, played by Paul McGann, who has only had one shot at playing the Doctor on tv, in the 1996 fox movie. If this play was good, then I would be a convert. If it was badUthen Big Finish would get no more Doctor Who related orders from me for some time.
Thankfully, I chose well. On the strength of this audio, I’m saving for Sword Of Orion, the follow up to this tale. One small note, this story was released in 2001, and there are now ten McGann adventures available, but this is the first. I will be getting more.
The basic plot is this: Dr Who, after an incident in the space/time vortex, finds himself on the British airship the R1O1. On board he finds several things- a new companion, a mystery in Cabin 43 and that he has lost his TARDIS, after it is thrown overboardUcue a brilliant story, to tell too much about it is to spoil a great two hours of entertainment.
Mc Gann is incredible as the eighth Doctor. After being the best thing in the weak TV movie, the man proves that his bravo performance was no one off- this man pulls off the role of the Doctor with aplomb, adding a new spin on an old timelord. But any Doctor Who need’s companionship, and that comes in the form of Charlotte “Charley” Pollard, played by India Fisher. Fisher breathes life into her role, and writer Alan Barnes has obviously had fun thinking up a new chum for the Doc. Throughout the tale McGann and Fisher bounce off each other, making for a funny likeable pairing.
Other key players include Gareth “Blake from Blake’s 7” Thomas excellently cast as Lord Tamworth; Hylton Collins as the hilarious Chief Steward Weeks; and Barnaby Edwards as the villainous (but damn damn annoying) Rathbone. Everyone in the cast gives a good account of themselves, and as typical for BF, the sound quality is excellent.
A few things struck me about this play. One, the two discs on offer give more scope than the one disc 2000ad tales allow. The two-hour running time also makes Who far more substantial that the seventy minute Judge Dredd’s. Along with that, the music is better; this story has a cinematic quality to it, that really brings it to life. Another note- the theme tune. Its Doctor Who all right, but not quite the one I remember. Re-arranged by OO7 composer David Arnold, the theme takes a while to get used to, but after a little bit it improves, and adds a distinctiveness to the McGann led tale.
So, all in all, Doctor Who, from the evidence as seen here, is a hell of a lot better even than the excellent 2000ad discs. The length, acting and script have combined to make a brilliant pilot adventure for the Eighth Doctor. Now, to check the sofa for loose changeU.must get Sword Of OrionN.
ANY GOOD?: Yes, yes and yes! McGann is the brilliant Doctor from the TV movie; India Fisher is a more than excellent sidekick and the supporting characters are diverse, interesting and well acted. The story will keep you hooked, with the feel of the 1930’s excellently put through by character attitudes and dialogue. Overall the best CD I own from Big Finish as yet. Brilliant.
FIVE OUT OF FIVE