The Cosmic Hobo

Thoughts & reviews about the science fiction series Doctor Who.

Archive for the tag “lalla ward”

Audio Review: Neverland

“Neverland” (Big Finish #33)
Written by Alan Barnes
Directed by Gary Russell
Featuring the Doctor, Charley, and Romana II

Rating: B

After traveling through space and time for about ten adventures (that we know of) with Charley Pollard, the girl who was supposed to die at the crash of the R101 in the early 20th century, time has finally caught up with the TARDIS team. The Doctor is forced to accept that perhaps the only way to restore time to its own rightful order is to kill Charley and fulfill her unfortunate destiny. The pair go to Gallifrey where Paul McGann’s Doctor must answer for breaking the laws of time to none other than the President of Gallifrey and former Doctor companion Romana.

Generally speaking, I’m not a huge fan of the overly Gallifrey-centric stories. Things like “The Deadly Assassin” just don’t appeal to me that much, and before this, I didn’t really have much feeling for anything Gallifrey related outside of the last two episodes of the Patrick Troughton serial “The War Games”. Although this story gets a bit bogged down in wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey towards the end, I actually ended up really enjoying “Neverland”.

The Eighth Doctor and Charley as a pair are one of my favorite TARDIS teams ever, and probably my favorite of the audios (though it may be a tie with the Sixth Doctor and Evelyn Smythe). I’m one of the few people who really enjoys the 1996 TV movie, and I’m a big fan of Paul McGann’s interpretation of the Doctor. That being said, I don’t feel like up to this point that McGann’s Doctor had gotten particularly good scripts in the audios. Aside from the really phenomenal “The Chimes of Midnight” and the enjoyable “The Sword of Orion”, I could take or leave the rest of his up to this point. That said, the chemistry between India Fisher and McGann is so strong that it makes even the weaker stories listenable and enjoyable (with the exception of the completely unsalvageable “Invaders from Mars”). Luckily, “Neverland” proves to be a damn good story. Compounding the enjoyability of India Fisher and Paul McGann as a team, Lalla Ward makes a great appearance as one of the cooler Fourth Doctor era companions, Romana (in her second incarnation).

Although there are times in “Neverland” where the plot is a bit hard to follow, and the solution didn’t really register in my head (probably my fault), I really enjoyed the ride in this one. It is a bit odd that this one features two hour-long parts rather than the standard four, the story flies by so it doesn’t bug me. Lalla Ward was phenomenal in “The Apocalypse Element” (featuring the Sixth Doctor) and once again kicks ass and takes names in “Neverland”. The dialogue throughout is strong, and using India Fisher ina double role suits the story’s flow and gives it more gravity. Also quite interesting to see the return of an important Time Lord (not counting Romana and the Doctor), but I won’t spoil it in case there are readers here who haven’t taken a listen. Although not in the same category as “The Chimes of Midnight” or the aforementioned “Spare Parts”, I seriously enjoyed “Neverland” and look forward to getting to the further adventures of the Eighth Doctor.

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Serial Review: City of Death (Season 17)

“City of Death”
Written by David Fisher, Douglas Adams, and Graham Williams, directed by Michael Hayes
Featuring the Doctor and Romana (II)

Rating: B+

“City of Death” is often cited by fans of the classic series to be among the finest serials in all of Doctor Who. It is the second serial of Tom Baker’s sixth season, and the second to feature Lalla Ward as Romana II. Some would say it is the last gasp of Baker at his best, and certainly the finest of Douglas Adams’ run as script editor of the show.

While on holiday in Paris, the Doctor and Romana accidentally stumble into an intergalactic plot to steal the Mona Lisa from the Louvre. Their first hint that something awry is going on in terms of the greater scheme of things is that the pair experience a couple strange skips in time, in which a few seconds suddenly repeat themselves. It is a jarring experience for the Doctor and Romana, and leads them on their little mission to basically figure out what the hell is going on.

My first impression of the serial is that it was brilliantly shot. The story is set in Paris in the 1970s, and has easily my favorite on-location camera work of any serial I have seen previously. Director Michael Hayes is entirely impressive here; he may have only directed three serials of Doctor Who, but he is certainly a worthwhile name for the quality of work in this serial alone.

As far as it being among the best serials in the classic era, I’m not so sure. It is brilliantly directed, with solid acting and an above average plot, making it at the very least a quite good serial, but the best? I haven’t seen the entirety of classic Who, but there are at least a few serials I can think of off the top of my head that I prefer significantly, notably “The Invasion” and “The Tomb of the Cybermen” from Troughton’s era, as well as “The Silurians” and “Spearhead from Space” from Pertwee’s. That being said, it is certainly my favorite Fourth Doctor story so far. Tom Baker is not my favorite Doctor (far from it), but it is hard to argue with this story’s quality, as well as the strength of his on-screen chemistry with Lalla Ward. Not a top five serial for me, but certainly upper echelon.

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