Today I finally get around to the Fifth Doctor, played by Peter Davison. He was the Doctor from 1981 to 1984. He is another of the more unloved Doctors, but he heavily influenced the popular Tenth Doctor (David Tennant also married Davison's daughter, Georgia Moffett). The Fifth Doctor is supposed to be pretty hit or miss on audio, but this collection is fairly solid. This is actually my first time listening to his audio stories, since I'm fairly new to the line and I prefer the Sixth Doctor. Fortunately (for me anyway), the Fifth Doctor is with his main companions from the classic series: Nyssa, Teagan and Turlough. So less catching up for me anyway.
The Emerald Tiger (2012) By: Barnaby Edwards
The Doctor does the Jungle Book. An archaeologist discovers jeweled beetles among other things and plans to bring his discoveries to the world. Unfortunately, his camp is attacked by giant tigers. The tigers kill the archaeologist and get his son as his wife escapes. Later, the Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Turlough arrive in India to see a famous cricket match. Their plans are interrupted when a rabid man starts attacking people. During the attack Nyssa is bitten and the man is shot by a British officer. Teagan goes off to get some rabies medicine. The officer leaves to board a train. The Doctor and Turlough aid Nyssa with the help of Professor Narayan, the rabid man's friend. Can Nyssa be saved? Who are the giant tigers and their leader Khan?
This is such an enjoyable adventure. As you can tell by the summary it can get rather confusing. As such, listen to it as a two hour chunk, or as close as you can get to it. The adventure serial nature really drives this. It almost feels more like an Indiana Jones serial than a Doctor Who one. All this combined with Hindu mythology and Jungle book references leave it quite a satisfying adventure to listen to. On a side note, the cast sounds older than they do on the other Fifth Doctor audios.
The Fifth Doctor is among the most pacifistic incarnations, but this adventure makes that a boon rather than a bore. The Doctor is all about saving as many lives as he can and much like the best of his episodes this results in him being more driven. Thus we get the Fifth Doctor at his best.
Nyssa is one of those companions who can fade into the background, however she is much more vital in this. Saving her is the crux of the story and acts as a way to point the group in the right direction. Her interaction with Dawan helps us relate to the more mystical characters.
Teagan always annoyed me in the series and I can't say she does too much to fix that here. She has her moments, but isn't anything too special.
Turlough seems to be around just to argue with Teagan. He talks a bit and is concerned for Nyssa. We'll see the best of Turlough in the next story.
Professor Narayan is a professor of mythology who comes into contact with the Doctor and co. by accident. Or is it? He discovers his past as they go into the unknown. Also, he has an awesome car that provides some great Fifth Doctor moments.
Dawan is a giant talking green tiger, how cool is that? Okay, I admit that part of my love for this story has to do with the fact that they paint a fantastic far eastern tale. Dawan is one of my favorite characters in this story because she adds a great deal to the story in a short amount of time.
Lady Adela Forster lost her family years ago and now only seeks to prevent anyone else from losing them. She is a concerned mother and adds to the drive and danger of the story. She will do anything to accomplish her mission.
Imperialist and Mythic Foe Respectively
Major Haggard is a trigger happy constable. This guy is a much more effective villain than Khan. He has the cool Imperialist arrogance that I just like to see put down. He didn't have enough time to live up to his potential.
Shardul Khan is a cool villain, but far too underdeveloped. His threat is built up, but he doesn't do that much. Nice idea with a shoddy execution. Fortunately, this story is more about the atmosphere than his machinations.
The music has a fantastic Indian cultural vibe and brings the story to life. The sound effects for the train scene and car chase are also magnificent. They facilitate the action and help you picture a classic car chase and an old fashioned train fight. This is an action packed adventure done right.
In the End
The end was satisfying, if a bit strange. It fit the mystical lost city vibe and is more up beat that either of the stories that follow. Even the techno-babble had a cool concept.
Doctor Who takes mythology and adapts it into a fun adventure without overly complicating it. This one is certainly more satisfying than Gods and Monsters. It could have used one or two less characters though. Sadly I'd have them cut Turlough. As it is, this story had to force everyone in on some sections. I think fans of Doctor Who and mythology should definitely check this one out.
Buy it here from Big Finish!
The Jupiter Conjunction (2012) By: Eddie Robson
A mysterious cloud being kills a man. The Doctor, Nyssa, Teagan and Turlough arrive on a comet outlet mall. Teagan and Nyssa head off to shop and run into a young thief named Violet who is stealing a space suit. She cannot legally buy a space suit and needs it to find her missing boyfriend. Meanwhile the Doctor and Turlough are picked up and charged with the massive amount of thefts occurring on the station over the course of a few months.
The first two episodes start it off hot and has a really lukewarm conclusion. Turlough makes the first two sections entertaining and carries this story to where the plot begins. The problem is that the plot suffers from a typical Doctor Who ending and weak shock value. The conspiracy and the twists that accompany it just aren't very exciting.
The Fifth Doctor is a peacemaker and never lets his honor fail. Due to this we get the blander five in this story. There are overtones of Adric in sections of this which seemed like blatant emotional manipulation. Ultimately, the Fifth Doctor has his moments, but this is not at his best.
Turlough has some excellent moments in the first two parts and then fades into the background during the second two parts. This is a shame because Turlough being a sly bastard is really where he shines and I think we need to see more of it.
Teagan also has her moments, but is back to her typical screaming and running around. She gets points for her "walabies in skyhoppers" comment. She needs some more of those since 'the longest serving companion' seems rather superfluous on the Tardis team.
Nyssa gets her best parts at the end, but they don't amount to much. Some interaction with the enemy, but her presence could be left out and there wouldn't be a lot lost (It might have even gotten better).
Lower Class Observer
Violet is missing her boyfriend and convinces Nyssa and Teagan to help her find him. Her section leads into the stuff at the end and the lame twist.
The Lieutenant Colonel was almost useless. She, like many characters in this, does a lot of things that didn't matter. Waste of a character? Probably.
Major Nash is an officer who appears in the third section . He serves as the major villain and tries to be impressive and really fails. His minions, the cloud monsters, are much more impressive after much less effort. His story path was about as stupid as his posturing.
The Cloud Monsters are an awesome race and I liked the idea behind them. Unfortunately, this story treats them like standard alien #645 and that is a shame. They need a story worthy of their cause!
The feeling of being at Costco runs through this, but the station acts as a kind of strange collective and that didn't come across until the end, seeming to adapt as the plot required.
In the End
The end was... the end. It filled the Doctor Who checklist.
After writing all this, I realized I seem really down on this episode. That's not exactly true. I was disappointed by the end. It was good, but so typical. I'm bumping this to good for Turlough being awesome. Check this out if you want to hear Turlough on his A-game.
Buy it here from Big Finish!
The Butcher of Brisbane (2012) By: Marc Platt
A man is sentenced to labor in the colonies by Magnus Greel. Meanwhile, the Tardis is hit by a beam and Nyssa and Turlough are ejected from the Tardis. They land in snow covered Bhutan where dead bodies are raining from the sky including the man we just heard sentenced. He seems to recognize Nyassa and Turlough.
This story is a prequel to the classic episode The Talons of Weng Chiang. I've only mentioned that episode in The Voyage to Venus and Mahogany Murders reviews before. So see it! This doesn't quite live up to its promise, but being a prequel to one of the great classic episodes sets the bar pretty high. The biggest problem was that this episode didn't do anything that we hadn't seen in the classic episode itself. The most interesting part should have been Nyssa's impending marriage to Greel. However, nothing really new was brought out of that either.
The Fifth Doctor is acting mysteriously and not answering his companion's questions. This is supposedly to 'preserve the timestream', but it is more to prevent spoilers of the classic episode and convolute the plot.
Nyssa should have had a great many more moments with Greel. They wanted to show how she had the potential to fall for him, but they had so few scenes together that it didn't work. Also, Nyssa was basically plot deviced out of any meaningful scenes in the last episode.
Turlough plays secret agent man and the few scenes we get have me wishing there were more.
Teagan... Do the writers really know what to do with her? She spends most of her hassling the Doctor.
Ragan is a young man who works for the Free World news trying to solve the mystery of the bodies falling from the future. What he doesn't know is that one of those bodies is his!
Sasha is another reporter at the free world news and the love interest of Ragna. With Ragna's dying words he hints that her fate is not going to be a happy one. Both of the news characters seem to have important rolls, but they don't end up as meaningful as they should have been.
Chops is a mutated dingo who serves as one of Findecker's guards. He was supposed to be comic relief, but he just wasn't very funny.
Magnus Greel is described as a smooth and honorable foe. They don't show it, but that's how he's described. He does prove a nefarious foe, which is something. He needed more meaningful screen time and what he got was just moving the plot forward.
Dr. Findecker is here so we can kill a bad guy. That's not a good enough reason for inclusion. He also needed some more concrete motives and maybe a back story more than 'that alien scientist.'
The music has overtones of the classic series soundtrack. The world plunged into a tightly controlled dystopia was decently rendered. However, the bombing at the end didn't produce the suspense it should have.
In the End
The ending is about what I expected. It leads into the TV show. There wasn't anything surprising other than them trying to pull more pathos from Nyssa than they should have.
A lot more should have come from visiting a classic villain at the height of his power. As it is, it is good backstory, but there aren't any meaningful new dimensions given to the original. The bodies being flung back in time was kind of cool, but not given enough weight. The mutations were cool, but forced into supporting roles. The reshaping of a psychopath didn't have enough time to develope. So many missed opportunities, though it also didn't do anything badly. It was good, but I expected great.
Buy it here from Big Finish!