Published on April 8th, 2011 | by James Whittington
Doctor Who – The BBC Radio Episodes
Assembled all together, this is Doctor Who – radio style. OK thereâ€™s nothing new here for fans to enjoy but itâ€™s nice to have them all in one tidy set. A bare bones release it may be but contained is some real Doctor Who magic thatâ€™s not bound or restricted by budget and special effects.
The Paradise Of Death
When a horrific death occurs at Space World theme park, the Brigadier and U.N.I.T. are called in â€“ accompanied by the Third Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith.
Placed between the TV adventures The Time Warrior and Invasion Of The Dinosaurs, The Paradise Of Death is a heady mix of old meets new with the some of the classic U.N.I.T family battling a corrupt intergalactic megalomaniac. I recall hearing this for the first time during the 30th anniversary year and loving the adventure. Itâ€™s a traditional feeling story with Barry Letts composing a fan friendly tale without alienating the casual listener. The direction from Phil Clark is solid, though he relies too heavily on the enthusiastic score a bit too much.
The main negative point here is the introduction of new companion Jeremy Fitzoliver, a wimpish wet blanket created only for comic relief. He provides none and adds nothing to the story except wind the listener up with his grating voice. Sorry Richard Pierce but this isnâ€™t your finest role. But letâ€™s get back to the positives and one only has to listen to Harold Innocent (Freeth), Peter Miles (Tragan) and Maurice Denham (President) to know that this is a quality production. This trio breathe a life into the script that may have died in the vocals of others.
Pertwee, Sladen and Courtney slide easily into their respective roles and are obviously having a shed-load of fun. On a negative note, Episode 3 is split in half, shame really. This adventure was followed up in 1996 withâ€¦.
The Ghosts Of N-Space
The Brigadierâ€™s great uncle Marion seems unsurprised by the specters that haunt his ancient Sicilian castle. But when the Third Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith come to investigate, they find themselves in great danger.
Broadcast only a few months before Pertweeâ€™s death and with the anticipation of the TV Movie in the air, I had everything crossed that this 6-parter would be of the same quality as the previous Doctor Who radio adventure. Shame then as itâ€™s a bit of a mish-mash of ideas and concepts that just donâ€™t gel at all. For starters Jeremy Fitzoliver returns and although the character has been toned down slightly he still is incredibly irritating. It is a more mature story with a darker edge than TPOD and the three main actors are just as reliable as ever. Itâ€™s just that it all seems a bit forced, story wise with some bizarre over acting from the supporting cast which includes Sandra Dickinson and Harry Towb.
But if you overlook these niggles then you can sit back and enjoy Pertwee in his element and reflect that this was the last time he would officially play the Doctor. By the way, from a TV continuity point of view it can be placed between Death To The Daleks and The Monster Of Peladon.
Doctor Who And The Pescatons
The TARDISâ€™s arrival on a lonely beach at night marks the beginning of a terrifying adventure on present-day Earth for the Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane.
According to the sleeve notes this, in all intents and purposes, is an official Doctor Who story. Written by Victor Pemberton, the man behind Fury From The Deep, he does an excellent job capturing the essence of the Fourth Doctor as well as Sarah Jane Smith. The banter and humour they both shared onscreen is evident here helping you feel comfortable and give it a positive feeling. Placed between The Seeds Of Doom and The Masque Of Mandragora it was originally released in 1976 and I recall seeing it in my local Woolworths though I didnâ€™t buy it for some reason.
This is a shame as this is a cracking adventure with Baker as the Doctor as we all wanted him to be, before he became a bombastic caricature of himself. He describes the action with urgency and drama, the tentacle sequence in particular is gripping, if you pardon the pun. The atmospheric, electronic score gives the feeling of the era and the subtle effects donâ€™t drown out the dialogue. A great adventure.
The Fourth Doctor takes Sarah Jane Smith back in time to witness the Earthâ€™s development: only to find that the existence of Mankind itself is in danger.
â€œRadio 4 VHF for Schoolsâ€. Iâ€™m old enough to remember sitting in assembly listening to Radio school broadcasts, shame ours never included this one though. Forming part of a BBC schools radio series, this was a great piece of cross curricular TV/radio programming. Transmitted just days after The Hand Of Fear this is a great way of introducing children to the complexities of Earthâ€™s construction.
Though the Doctor and Sarah Jane seemed to be squeezed into the idea itâ€™s a fun idea subtly educating the listener, the best way in my experience. Edutainment if you like! Maybe if Iâ€™d been exposed to this in 1976 I wouldnâ€™t have failed my Science C.S.E. a few years later, maybe not.
Whatever Happened toâ€¦Susan?
A tongue in cheek look at how Susanâ€™s life might have turned out after her adventures with the Doctor.
Forming part of a series that looked at the lives of fictional characters this checks out Sarahâ€™s life after she left the Doctor. This is a bit of a curio as Jane Asher and not Carole Ann Ford plays Susan, likewise other characters are played by different actors. Yes in the instance of Barbara but others such as Ian Chesterton (James Grout) and Jo Grant (Eva Haddon billed as Jo Jones) seems a tad wrong. Andrew Mourbyâ€™s light-hearted script is OK but it takes too many liberties with the source which Iâ€™ll leave for up to you to discover and see if you agree. Listen out for some canon errors as well such as when Ian and Barbara were returned to Earth. A nice idea but to me it doesnâ€™t quite deliver.
The TARDIS materializes in the service ducting of the Vipod Mor, a huge craft floating in deep space. The Sixth Doctor and Peri find something nasty lurking there, and the past and future history of the entire universe is at risk.
When the show went into hiatus for 18 months this little adventure appeared on Pirate Radio 4, a magazine programme that was sent out during the school holidays. This six-part romp is a bit of a guilty pleasure. It really shouldnâ€™t work and the plot isnâ€™t exactly original but thanks to some solid acting from Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant proving their TV incarnations were ruined by a bad choice in attire and not just lame scripts. Valentine Dyall lends his voice to what would turn out to be his final performance though Jane Carrâ€™s incarnation as a computer with character does push the listenerâ€™s stamina at times. Episode length is below ten minutes each but Eric Saward makes sure his story moves at a smart pace. Effects donâ€™t over power the dialogue and really add to the enjoyment of the story.
So then this set highlights what a great medium radio is for the series and shows just how a great Doctor Colin Baker was/is when given the right material.
The set has an RRP of Â£60.00 and can be ordered via the AudioGO website, or you can get it at an almost 50% discount from Amazon for just Â£31.79!