Thursday, June 23, 2011

Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?

Having thoroughly insulted Tony Lee the other week (by accident, I hasten to add; blame our Colonial cousins for making me stay up past my bedtime), I thought it only fair to make my next review not only a Big Finish one, but his Big Finish one. So, having batted my eyelashes at the Prof to download it for me, I settled back to listen to Tony’s first foray into Big Finish audio adventures: Rat Trap.

This is a Fifth Doctor adventure (yay!), with Nyssa (even bigger yay!), Tegan and Turlough along for the ride. As often happens to our favourite time-traveller and his friends, the TARDIS has deposited them in the right place but not the right time, leaving them stranded in the allegedly abandoned tunnels deep beneath Cadogan Castle. The Doctor’s been here before, but not everything is as it seems. And there’s something out there in the darkness…

If you suffer from murophobia, this is probably not a good story to listen to unless you fancy giving yourself a serious case of the heebee-geebees. The anti-vivisection message is a little over-played although amusingly done (for the most part) and is very in-keeping with the whole Doctor Who evil scientist ethos. As an ex-research scientist (who never did any animal experiments, I hasten to add) it’s always interesting to see how lay-people tackle the field and I wasn’t disappointed by the cod-science in this story; it really made me giggle. This is a Good Thing(TM), because I have been known to shout rude words at the telly in response to the sheer crappiness of the “science” on display in some purported sci-fi offerings. I get glared at in cinemas as well.

I was always a fan of Nyssa; she was a smart, pretty scientist who only suffered the odd bout of utter girliness. She even got to change her outfit occasionally. Because of the story arc, this isn’t that Nyssa exactly, but she’s still in scientist mode and of all of the actors, Sarah Sutton still sounds virtually the same as she did in the TV series. Davison once again turns in a well-pitched performance and, as with Colin Baker, his Doctor really comes into his own through the audios. Janet Fielding and Mark Strickson are both good, although Tegan just doesn’t sound the same vocally. I’m reasonably new to Turlough as a character because I’d stopped watching by the time he showed up originally and have only seen a few of his appearances on DVD, where he came off as a bit of a slappable whiny brat. He seems to have grown out of that (thankfully) and let's face it, it’s always nice to have a bit of trouser in the TARDIS.

There is ongoing continuity here, but its not overwhelming and I’m sure a quick check on the prĂ©cis for other recent Fifth Doctor adventures would quickly get you up to speed if need be. My only real issue with Rat Trap wasn’t the story, but the voice effects on the villains. I have a minor hearing issue and the processing made it difficult at times to work out exactly what was being said. It was worse for some characters (particularly during the first episode) so it did make it a bit of a struggle to keep up in some places. Having said that, this is a fun Fifth Doctor romp, and even if everybody doesn’t end up dead in the end there’s just enough psychological damage for all concerned to make you feel like you just stepped back in time to the 1980s.


Post a Comment

WebMaster: Terry Lightfoot
WebDoctor: Oolon Sputnik
Blog by Terry Lightfoot
Back to TOP