The Third Doctor - #2 - The Heralds Of Destruction Part TwoBookmark and Share

Sunday, 1 January 2017 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek
Doctor Who: Third Doctor #2 (Credit: Titan)
Writer - Paul Cornell
Artist - Christopher Jones
Colorist - Hi-Fi

Letters  - Richard Starkings + Comicraft's Jimmy Betancourt

(Alastair Lethbidge Stewart -
Created By Mervyn Haisman + Henry Lincoln,
appearing courtesy of Candy Jar Books --
with thanks to Hannah Haisman, Henry Lincoln,
and Andy Frankham-Allen)

 Editor - John Freeman

Assistant Editors - Jessica Burton + Amoona Saohin

Senior Designer - Andrew Leung

Published October 12th 2016, TITAN COMICS

The Third Doctor and Jo return to the lab in UNIT HQ, where the TARDIS Is housed, and discover an unexpected visitor - none other than the Doctor's last incarnation, complete with a dark mop of hair and chequered trousers. Jo is delighted to see the other Doctor who was so kind to her during their ordeal in Omega's universe. The 'of-his-time' Doctor, however, was hoping such an exceptional event, and one needing him to cross his own time stream, would indeed remain rare. But the Second Doctor, in typically buoyant mood, assures his friends that he was again sent by the Time Lords, and in this case to help with the robotic entities threatening Earth.

Some of UNIT's forces are holding the invaders at bay with a makeshift, passable force field. Suddenly the Brigadier, overseeing the defences, is visited by a 'General Mayhew' who is coming across just a little more familiar than he should. Lethbridge-Stewart quickly unmasks the visitor, as none other than the Master. But is the evil renegade Time Lord to blame for the events that are occurring?

As the two Doctors try to solve the mystery of the 'micro machines', Miss Grant is suddenly attacked by the specimen that was retrieved. This forces the incumbent Doctor into having to perform a Gallifreyan mind meld and visit the inner psyche of Jo to both save her, and perhaps find a solution to the crisis at hand...


Paul Cornell continues to tell a story that is fun, amusing, and not entirely predictable, and yet there is homage aplenty to the much-loved Jon Pertwee era of the 'Classic' TV show.

The interplay of the Pertwee/ Troughton Doctors is hard to get wrong by even the weakest writer. In the hands of Cornell, this is thus a big plus point in a comic book teeming with positive attributes.

Of particular interest, is the way that these two regenerations of the title hero show their concern and affection for Jo Grant, in markedly different fashions. The Third Doctor is the protective patriarch, whilst his predecessor is the genial, funny uncle. Also well done is the Second Doctor's keenness to one day change his appearance, and be acquainted with Jo properly. This is a nice echo of a scene towards the end of The Three Doctors, where the 'present'  Doctor acknowledges how he used to be rather "sweet".

The actual main threat of the 'Heralds' does slow to a crawl, after the perils of Issue One. However, given there are three more instalments in the mini-series to follow, this is more than acceptable.

Art from Christopher Jones remains at a high level, and is both authentic in evoking the many stories of the Third Doctor and UNIT, but also having its own confident style. I enjoyed the way the Master's disguise was all too obvious on several occasions. This surely is a knowing homage to when either the Master removed the mock-up 'face' of someone he was impersonating, or (more memorably) when a character he was able to hypnotise had the false face of the bearded renegade Time Lord.

And Cornell is clever enough to have this apparent joke turned on its head, in an action scene which really needs to be read/seen to be appreciated properly, and which is my personal highlight of a sterling second instalment in the mini series.

The main characters of the (early 1970s) TV shows really feel just as we knew and loved them. Any newcomers will want to see some of the Pertwee stories based on the vitality of the players in this story. And the art stands on its own feet such that many readers will want to come back to look at the comic, just for its visual dimensions. Hi-Fi has made many of these Titan comics breathe full life, but deserves particular praise for the final product of this mini-series.


BONUS FEATURES:

Two separate pages at the latter end of the comic book show Jones' pencils at an earlier stage before the colour process took hold. One is devoted to the Master and the Brigadier, and the other for the Two Doctors and Jo.                                                                                                                    

There are also main/alternate cover variants for both the current issue, and the upcoming one as well. Issue Two also has full page cover variants separately. 





Day Of The Daleks (Audiobook/ Novelisation)Bookmark and Share

Friday, 9 December 2016 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek
Doctor Who and The Day of The Daleks (Credit: BBC Audio)


Written By: Terrance Dicks

(Based On A Story By: Louis Marks)

Read By: RIchard Franklin

Dalek Voices: Nicholas Briggs

Running Time: 245 mins

Released: 10 November 2016

With his old enemy the Master safely locked away, the Doctor is able to relax a little and pursue some experiments. His valued assistant Jo Grant is quite willing to provide her very human perspective. By accident, the Doctor and Jo witness two counterparts of themselves from some point in the near future. 

Meanwhile at Auderly house, Sir Reginald Styles is busy preparing for his much anticipated role in a pivotal peace conference. During one night he is suddenly disturbed by a man in military attire with a weapon of futuristic design. But before the killing shot can be made, the intruder vanishes into thin air.

Some time later, other guerrillas attack the house but instead find a terrified Jo and a remarkably laid-back Doctor. They commandeer the house; preparing to finish their mission upon Styles' return. Despite their aggressive manner, the Doctor explains to Jo that there must be a proper motive behind their actions.

The fighters come from future Earth, and their time-jumps have been noticed by their enemies, who subject the majority of mankind to slave work in mines or factories. The 'Controller' of this section of Earth barks orders at powerful brutes known as Ogrons. Soon a squad of the semi-simian creatures are sent back to the past to stop the resistance from succeeding.

But behind the Controller and the Ogrons lies a more significant foe, and one the Doctor thought he had extinguished for good: the Daleks!


 

After one of the definitive Pertwee serials, The Daemons, which saw UNIT showcased in charming and impressive fashion, Season 9 was a definite come-down for this component of Who lore. The Sea Devils had a terrific outing for the Royal Navy, which was extra special due to much real life facilities on loan. The two adventures in 'outer space' had barely any mention or use of UNIT. The season opener and closers, whilst at first glance having the Doctor's allies involved in the plot, merely required them as window dressing when it came to the essential nuts and bolts of the story proper.

Day's heart and soul lies in the future Earth, and the circumstances in 20th Century time that led to its creation. The morality issues, and personalities of the human resistance was done very well in the original TV story. Here, Terrance Dicks does great work in breathing further life into Monia, Anat, Shura, and a number of more minor fighters. More explanation of the undercover work, and fear that comes trying to go against the all-mighty establishment the Daleks have put in place, makes this one of the most powerful and emotive of all the Classic Series novelisations to hit bookstores over the decades.

But in terms of how well this works as an actual Dalek story, there are problems.  Much of the time the Daleks are hiding or demanding that their minions "exterminate" the resistance and/or the Doctor. The catchphrase the Daleks use was actually sparingly featured in their dialogue during the black and white days of the show. This story sadly saw this frequency change just a little too much. And even with Dicks' fine use of universe building concepts - such as a wider Dalek Empire gripping much of the galaxy - they still fare rather weakly. Only in the final sections, do they take matters into their own protuberances. Yet even at the climax, they all blunder into Auderly House assuming that their invasion path has not impacted on the location of those they intend to murder.

The other monsters that feature are the Ogrons, who are a race of brutal mercenaries. Whilst lacking basic intelligence they were dependably loyal and far stronger in hand to hand combat than even the toughest human resistance fighter. One of the best monsters to originate in the Pertwee era, they were utilised again in Frontier In Space. Dicks does well to emphasise the contrasting mental and physical qualities of these alien beings.

 

As in The Claws Of Axos audiobook (released earlier this year) Richard Franklin is a solid and committed performer, for this production of a top-notch novelisation. With more material for Jo in this particular story he produces a charming imitation of the memorable Katy Manning. Benton has a heavily exaggerated accent compared to the John Levene original, but regardless he has always been, and will always remain a likeable, and relatable character. There is a little bit of amusing material for Captain Yates himself in this adventure, but he barely plays a role in the final episode.

The Third Doctor, with heavy lisp and superior manner, makes for the most imposing figure of the audiobook. He is showcased in tremendous fashion, being warm, dismissive, domineering, light-hearted, outraged, and gung-ho depending on where in the story's proceedings he finds himself in.

 

Day Of The Daleks, whilst hardly a flawless classic, has been a personal favourite of mine, for many years. It has intriguing ethics, plenty of action, character development for hero and villain alike, and was in the heart of a period of Doctor Who where the show reached unprecedented levels of success in production and audience reception. This release is most welcome and rewards the extra time needed to listen to the narrative, as opposed to the four fleet foot episodes of the television screen format.





The Third Doctor - #1 - The Heralds Of Destruction Part One (Titan Comics)Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 2 October 2016 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek
Third Doctor #1 (Credit: Titan)

Writer - Paul Cornell
Artist - Christopher Jones
Colorist - Hi-Fi

Letters  - Richard Starkings + Comicraft's Jimmy Betancourt

(Alastair Lethbidge Stewart - Created by Mervyn Haisman
+ Henry Lincoln, appearing courtesy of Candy Jar Books)

Senior Editor - Andrew James
Assistant Editors - Jessica Burton + Amoona Saohin
Senior Designer - Andrew Leung

Published September 14th 2016, TITAN COMICS

Newly released from the exile imposed by his own people - the Time Lords - the brilliant scientist Doctor John Smith is once again needed in order to help his friend Lethbridge Stewart and UNIT. A relentless, self-repairing metal menace has come to make life difficult for the natives of planet Earth, and that may be not be the only threat of consequence before too long.

 

Having had success with other Doctors from time past in the Eighth Doctor miniseries and, more recently, Fourth Doctor miniseries, Titan now unleashes another title. And how welcome that it features the undeniably charismatic Third Doctor, performed onscreen with such conviction by the late Jon Pertwee.

Paul Cornell knows exactly how to mix in the familiar elements which fans have come to know and love, but also add a sprinkling of his own creative skill to make something memorable and engaging. There is one returning foe, several returning secondary UNIT characters - Corporal Bell and Sergeant Osgood - and a key returning character who makes a sizeable impact in the customary end-of-issue cliffhanger.

The decision to set these new stories after The Three Doctors is a sound one, and potentially allows for Jo and the Doctor to go on travels across cosmos and time zones without yet another formulaic 'mission for the Time Lords' justification. It also allows for a properly fleshed out and well-knit 'UNIT family' - i.e. the Doctor and Jo, as well as the Brigadier, Captain Yates, and Sergeant Benton.

The art, from Christopher Jones, is a truly impressive selling point for this maiden issue, and earned the praise of Pertwee Era script-editor Terrance Dicks: "A handsomely-drawn epic". Key to having this miniseries work is a proper rendering of the Third Doctor, and this is certainly the case as we witness the 'James Bond/ Gentleman's Club' variant of our favourite Time Lord, as he goes about his heady business. Although the heavily stylised use of lines can be noticeable in the odd panel, the overall effect is compelling. Further, the use of palette, by the ever-reliable Hi-Fi, evokes with authentic impact the very first period of Doctor Who's history to feature full colour visuals.

 

The story undoubtedly will read well to old and new fans alike, with just the right balance of continuity and innovation. However, a certain clutch of early 1970s stories perhaps should be seen first, by those Who aficionados, who have tried little or none of the Classic era of the show. Not only will it add to the strengths of this particular adventure concocted in 2016, but it will be a reminder that the show was always able to deliver great acting and show initiative in trying markedly new things, both for science fiction and for TV in general.

Working splendidly both as set-up, and a showcase of incident and drama, also, this is a flying start to another promising new title from Titan.

 

EXTRAS :

* 'Behind the Scenes' Pencils and Inks are on display for one of the comic's most interesting panels, with the Doctor standing atop his car, Bessie.

* Three medium and full page-sized alternate covers feature, as well as two variant covers by Boo Cook and Andy Walker respectively.





The Claws Of Axos (Audio Book)Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 10 July 2016 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek
Doctor Who and The Claws Of Axos (Credit: BBC Audio)Written By: Terrance Dicks
Read By: Richard Franklin
Released By: BBC Audio - JUNE 2nd 2016

4 CDS - APPROX TIME: 3 hours 40 minutes

Planet Earth in the late 20th Century is about to have some mysterious and unique visitors that rely on purely organic technology. Britain is the nation that welcome the Axons: beautiful, golden beings from another world that has since ceased to exist. 

Horatio Chinn - a Ministry of Defence official - is absolutely hell-bent on making sure that Britain does not lose a chance to have exclusive rights to the Axonite product 'offered' by the aliens. Despite being a rather foolish and gullible person, he proves to be a handful for UNIT -  headed up by the assured Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.

A man known only as 'the Doctor' is rather more cautious about what the Axons are actually bringing to the bargaining table, but he himself is determined to do a scientific study on Axonite to fully understand its potential attributes. He is able to get some initial assistance from Professor Winser, as they do various tests on this substance at the Nuton Power Complex. But Winser gradually perceives the Doctor as a pretentious chancer, and not a credible scientist, as first assumed.

Before long, matters take a decided turn for the worse. The Axons are in reality looking to exploit Earth for its many rich minerals and energy components, and wish to implement their 'nutrition cycle'. They are not in fact a race of aliens, but a collective gestalt. They have had limited time travel powers up to now, but sense a chance to truly master the fourth dimension. Once the Doctor and his dedicated companion Jo Grant are captured, they fully act to seize upon this opportunity.

Meanwhile the Doctor's old enemy the Master is at large. He is to blame for the Axons visiting Earth in the first place, having been captured by them and divulged how to get to the small blue-green world.  Yet ironically he may turn out to prove as vital an ally to the Brigadier as the Doctor, if in a decidedly more ruthless manner.

The long-well-known saying "Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts", is potentially going to be made into harsh reality. Unless the mercurial Doctor and his allies can once again prove that there is no 'I' in 'Team', and that 'The Whole' is greater than the 'Sum Of Its Parts'.

                                                                                                             *

Claws is a story I can never call a classic, but remains a bit of a personal favourite. I remember back in 1992, when my father passed me a brand new VHS tape with a near manic smile, almost as if all his hard work that day had paid off for it. The cover illustration really was indicative of the psychedelic and unique four part story contained on the tape. At the time, the rediscovery of The Tomb Of the Cybermen was far more significant than an expected release of yet another colour Jon Pertwee story. But I was not yet a dyed-in-the-wool Who fan, and I could simply appreciate the two stories in different ways for what they brought to the table.

In all honesty, since the early Nineties, many of the TV story's flaws become more magnified with each passing decade. DVD is even more ruthless in exposing certain weaknesses, owing to the modest production values the BBC allocated to this Saturday teatime series. The acting was pretty weak as well when it came to the human guest cast. However, the Axons were well done, with the Axon Man, and 'voice of Axos' being malicious antagonists, that still retained a degree of substance and identifiable personality traits.

Also Jo Grant ended up with the 'short straw', in terms of spoken lines and was rather surplus to requirements. This is something of a glaring omission in a story dominated by male speaking roles. I can however excuse original authors Bob Baker and Dave Martin for this flaw, as their original story stretched to nearly double the length.

Once script editor Terrance Dicks was able to harness their ideas and reach consensus, he was able to establish a future role for the 'Bristol Boys', and many more stories from then would later materialise. Still, it can be argued that Baker and Martin's first collaborative effort was the most memorable and distinctive of all, once any gimmicks and milestones are removed from the 'product description'.

In book/audio form the ambitious parameters of the story are markedly better served. The listener's ambition can paper over any of the cracks that the original production displays, and there is some fine use of suspense as scenes play out in a more sustained manner. The TV version is rather fast-paced compared to most of its other Season Eight peers, with Terror of the Autons coming closest to being anywhere near as frenetic. The manner Dicks chooses to generate atmosphere and anticipation is rather more effective, and some chilling concepts fully resonate.

There also is better elaboration for various parties' motives, most notably Chinn, Filer, and even the Brigadier when he is forced to agree with difficult choices. Whilst some characters remain ciphers that just advance the plot - such as the generic Captain Harker who suddenly 'overrules' the Brigadier - it feels rather less of a problem in this version.

Richard Franklin is certainly a better audio narrator than a screen actor, and he never loses his gravitas - managing to relay just how high the stakes are here. His interpretations of the Brigadier and Benton do stand out as very different from the originals. But this is commendable, as it would have been far easier for Franklin to do an auto-pilot mimicry of the efforts of Nicholas Courtney and John Levene from the Seventies.

Music and sound effects continue to be a strength of the BBC audio production team. The haunting Axos theme that recurs through all four discs of this release is very nicely done. The Dudley Simpson score of the original story had its moments, but could be intrusive. By having intermittent music - as per usual for this type of audiobook - the drama and intensity is much better managed.

However I cannot unreservedly praise this book/audio reading. Dicks somehow never resolves a certain plot hole: quite how the Master could be 'absorbed' by Axos, but avoid divulging time travel theory as part of his 'freedom'. Also, some of the comedy that plays out between Chinn and his superior is decidedly unamusing. And when comparing this audio release to its most relevant competition, Death To The Daleks, I must stress that Franklin is inferior in vocal range to Jon Culshaw.

Ultimately this is an audio experience to enjoy for the vast bulk of its running time, and another success from BBC Audio. It is worth employing sufficient power to track this one down, and absorb its many delights.

 





Amorality Tale (Audio Book)Bookmark and Share

Friday, 6 May 2016 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek
Amorality Tale
Author: David Bishop

Audio Performer: Dan Starkey

 Released 7 April 2016 BBC AUDIO

Run Time: 7 Hours Approx.

This escapade on audio depicts the Third Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith trying to find out the origin of a picture dating back to the 1950s. The image apparently shows the Doctor living in that era as if he was from that time, and not the (somewhat confusingly dated) 'UNIT years' he has been accustomed to in recent times, even with TARDIS travel now restored to him by his own people. Deciding to travel back in time and clarify what could be behind all this, the Doctor goes onto assume an identity of 'watchmaker' and Sarah is first a 'barmaid' and then an undercover 'gangster moll' looking to get an insight into notorious criminal Tommy Ramsey.

A gangland war soon ensues, but darker forces are at work and potentially linked to a seemingly innocuous minister at St Luke's Church. And then there is a grim, and unsettling fog that effectively operates as a weather harbinger of doom.

Before long, the Doctor and his plucky journalist associate Sarah must somehow enable an alliance with Tommy, who quite evidently is an unsavoury and ruthless crime boss compared to his 'peers'. Fort the Earth could be facing a menace that has dimensional shifting and energy powers that few can scarcely conceive of.  Even with an effective, albeit temporary, partnership that could save countless lives, some hard decisions need to be made -- lest the Web of Time is damaged past the point of no return

Once again we are in the realms of original fiction that act as 'missing adventures' - this story being allocated with Season 11 of the classic show. Real life events of the Great Smog back in 1952 give this fictional work a bit of gravitas amidst all the more incredible and fantastical elements that present themselves.

There are many grim and tragic deaths, and this is unusually bloodthirsty for a story of this 'era', perhaps being more suited to the generally ruthless Philip Hinchcliffe , or Eric Saward sections of Doctor Who on TV. But most of the suffering and despair feels as if it has come organically from the setting and plot, and the main enemy force that the Doctor and his temporary allies deal with are clearly forces to be reckoned with and justify such carnage.

Having said that, a lot of the flavour of the Jon Pertwee TV era are noticeable, with certain dialogue and in-jokes coming into play. Author David Bishop knows how to make this feel both revolutionary and reassuring, and often in the same breath of prose. As a semi-regular writer for Doctor Who from the 1990s onwards, he has given his novels urgency and momentum, but also a definite knowing wit.

Dan Starkey is a terrific performer and makes the considerable run time feel far less burdensome. He has proven his mettle many a time when assuming a Sontaran persona, but there is much, much more to him as far as vocal and character performance goes. Even if Bishop's writing style is not the kind a given reader/listener would perhaps care for, Starkey puts together a top tier effort here. I hope BBC Audio re-engage him for similar duties very soon.

With some of the best music I have encountered in reviewing the various talking books and audio drama productions for this news page, there is further icing on the cake, helping make this a most nourishing extended edition Third Doctor tale. It clearly wishes to remind listeners of the halcyon days when Jon Pertwee was reigning supreme at the helm of the Doctor Who phenomenon.

If you can commit to an audio product which needs to be followed carefully for well over six hours, then this is worth both your time and the mental energy needed to translate the descriptions into actual 'minds' eye' imagery. A very fine effort. 





Death To The Daleks (Audio Book)Bookmark and Share

Monday, 4 April 2016 - Reviewed by Martin Hudecek
Death to the Daleks (Credit: BBC Audio)

Written By Terrance Dicks (based on a TV story by Terry Nation)

Performed By: Jon Culshaw

Dalek Voices By: Nicholas Briggs

Duration - 2 hours 30 minutes approx.

Released: 3rd March 2016

 

The Third Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith are marooned on the harsh planet of Exxilon when the TARDIS loses all its core power. This is thanks to an ancient living city that acts as a remorseless energy parasite, and also has reduced a once fully-fledged society to one that heads backwards into sheer barbarism.

Before long, Sarah is captured by the main faction of native Exxilons and faces a deadly and brutal sacrifice. Meanwhile, the Doctor allies himself with a team of humans who are trying to recover invaluable parrinium from this desolate world, so as to cure a deadly space plague that threatens all human life across the cosmos.

Interrupting any attempts to save Sarah are the Doctor's oldest enemy from the planet Skaro. They too are officially charged with recovering resource, so as to save their own forces. But despite attempting to wipe out their mortal enemy, and the humans he has just befriended, the energy drain has managed to render the Daleks quite literally harmless. But not for long.

The Doctor eventually allies himself with the kind-hearted Bellal, who is one of the few Exxilons to retain awareness of how his species has been laid low by the City. Together they must conquer the different logic, willpower and physical challenges that the uniquely sentient 'wonder of the Universe' tries to throw at them. If they succeed, then they can destroy the corrupted entity once and for all. Meanwhile Sarah and the surviving humans must try and play a cat-and-mouse game of placating the now in-charge Daleks, but also securing enough parrinium covertly to have any hope of preventing the extinction of all humanity.

 

Once again, I can emphasise what a pleasure it was to experience a confident audio book reading of a long-established TARGET novelisation. But whereas the previous The Massacre was a radical reworking of the actual TV show, so as to be in favour of what the original writer intended, this 1974 Jon Pertwee story has been far more closely adhered to. This is no surprise, as Terrance Dicks had much of a final say in the outcome of stories that he script-edited during this period of the show's history. Dicks is well-known for being gregarious and witty, but the man is also savvy enough to realise when the production of a story he oversaw at the script stage had its problems in the final edit.
 

Despite being released comparatively early on, when Doctor Who was becoming a home video attraction in the 1980s, Death to The Daleks attracted a considerable share of criticism from various parties. It sat in the middle of what was generally regarded as Pertwee's weakest season. Despite efforts from (then-equivalent-to showrunners) Barry Letts and Dicks it has a host of rehashed Terry Nation clich├ęs, some of which can be found in the previous year's Planet of the Daleks.

Director Michael Briant was one of the show's more unpredictable director, being capable of greatness with The Robots of Death, or banality with Revenge of the Cyberman (which also had a Carey Blyton score of rather uneven quality). This actual story perhaps exuded a run-of-the-mill tick-box-exercise from Briant's camera work and actor direction, and so reinforced how watered-down the Daleks came across in the Seventies, despite the program being made in colour. At least that was so, until a certain gem from both Nation's and Robert Holmes' creative skill sets that completely reinvigorated the story of these psychotic warmongers.

Finally, when one really stops to think about the plot, there is much to ponder over why it is just the Daleks' lethal weaponry that is immobilised, and not also the overall shell that they rely upon.
 

When writing his novelisation in 1978, Dicks made a good effort to embellish on what did work well in the original teleplay, and to minimise the weaknesses. Some well-done exposition on why and how Exxilon became a lifeless rock makes the overall proceedings convey more depth. The Daleks are played straight, and have none of the cosy musical cues or self-destructive silliness in prose form. Some good back-story and characterisation for both Dan Galloway, and the unfortunate crewman killed in the opening of the story fits in so silkily that one would almost have thought this was part of the original work done by Nation at the early stage of the writing process.

Due to this being an audio release that relies principally on one skilful performer, there is none of the acting consistency that marred Death on-screen. Some of the better performances came from the Dalek voice artists, and indeed from Arnold Yarrow as Bellal; one of many successful one-off 'companions' over the course of Doctor Who's considerable lifespan. There also was a very heartfelt performance from gifted character actor John Abineri, but his character met a gratuitously thankless end, barely a third of the way into the second episode. Thus, apart from the series regulars, the only half-decent humanoid performance over the course of the entire story came from Duncan Lamont as the shifty, self-serving Galloway. The less said about the remaining human performers, and the savage Exxilons that dominate early proceedings, the better.

This see-saw in acting quality is quashed thanks to the hiring of Jon Culshaw. He manages to make the listener care for virtually every participant in the story, and also conveys just how much enjoyment he is getting from lending his vocal expertise. Previously he had been involved in Death Comes to Time, as well as several Big Finish stories. Having virtually full responsibility for a three CD product, this well-respected comedian and impressionist acquits himself handsomely well. The production really springs to life, and so makes the most of the original Terrance Dicks text.

Nicholas Briggs provides (what are by now to many familiar) voices for the various Daleks, and they perhaps are marginally better than the originals, depending on the listener's inclination. The soundtrack semi-evokes recent Twelfth Doctor TV stories, and so this production feels somewhat more contemporary than one would expect, given the source material being from the mid 1970s. There are some very good sound effects, such as the deadly Exxilon arrows that thud into the bodies of those unfortunate enough to be standing in the wrong place.

This story is ultimately a much more assured and effective entity in this newly worked version, and the listener's auditory experience is one where the clock ticks away almost unnoticed. Ideal either for a couple of days' listening, or one full-length session, barely any effort is needed in experiencing a rare Third Doctor story that is set entirely away from the planet Earth. Whatever generation of fandom one belongs to, and thus may have negative presumptions on this story's worthiness, this is nonetheless one release to track down and enjoy whole-heartedly.