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10 May 2011

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Marc Platt

RRP: £14.99

Release Date: 30th April 2011

Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 10th May 2011

When the closing credits of Survival rolled in 1989, no one watching knew that Doctor Who would not return for a good long while. Production on what would have been season 27 had been suspended leaving potential future storylines for the Seventh Doctor and Ace in limbo.

After the very successful first Lost Stories season featuring the Sixth Doctor, Big Finish have brought to life the missing Season 27, giving us an incredibly fascinating insight into where the show would have gone if it had not been taken off the air.

The first of these stories is Thin Ice, known popularly as Ice Time in fan lore. 

It is Russia in 1967. The Cold War is raging and the Russians are hoping to gain an advantage with the retro engineering of captured Alien Technology but not just any alien tech. This is the ancient horde of a Martian war lord and his devoted followers want it back. Meanwhile the Doctor and Ace arrive and in the midst of getting entangled in the various powers wanting this technological prize, Ace begins to suspect that the Doctor once again knows more than he is letting on.

It is no secret that the returning monsters in this story are the Ice Warriors, who have become something of a favourite recurring foe in the recent audios. But that isn’t a bad thing, due to the vocal mastery of Nicholas Briggs who brings real, dare I say it, humanity to the reptilian warriors.

The appropriately named Hhessh is a fantastic character, speaking one line in particular that had this reviewer stifling laughter on public transport. Various supporting Ice Warriors as well as a number of key supporting parts are played very well by veteran Nigel Lambert.

Sylvester McCoy is in fine form, accurately recreating the rather secretive seventh Doctor from his time on the show and Sophie Aldred slips back into a younger Ace with such ease that is completely believable. The supporting characters are equally well drawn with special mention going to Ricky Groves who makes a convincing Harry Palmer/James Bond turn as Markus Creevy. Beth Chalmers, who will have a greater part to play in the upcoming season, is brilliant in a play in which everyone has a moment to shine.

Writer Marc Platt has done something quite remarkable with Thin Ice, in that he creates the feel of a McCoy era television story on audio so convincingly you can see it in your head... most of the time. However little touches such as the biker gang with Ice Warrior helmets recall the Cyber Henchmen from Silver Nemesis; visual ideas so baffling they could only work on television, which is one of the weaker points of the audio in that a lot of visual ideas fall a bit flat in the audio medium.

All in all, Thin Ice is a rather fun and exciting way to kick off this season of Lost Stories, with some rather unexpectedly dark moments and little hints of the stories to come. If Season 27 had seen the light of day on television, this story would’ve given Doctor Who a strong direction in the nineties.

10 May 2011

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Alan Barnes

RRP: £14.99

Release Date: 30th April 2011

Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 10th May 2011

Since Big Finish began producing audio adventures for our favourite Time Lord over a decade ago, they have brought back many of the classic and more obscure monsters from the television series, yet, Heroes of Sontar marks the first time the company have used the Sontarans.

Quite why it has taken so long to bring these clone soldiers to audio is baffling considering how much fun this story turns out to be.

Heroes of Sontar is the first instalment of the second series of adventures for the Fifth Doctor, Turlough, Tegan and Nyssa, and focuses on a platoon of seven Sontaran troopers being deployed to the Planet Samur; a peaceful haven conquered by the armies of Sontar twenty years earlier. 

These soldiers have been given sealed orders for a secret mission, sending them into the furthest reaches of Rutan space. Unknown to the Sontarans, the Doctor and his companions have arrived on Sumar too, looking for some rest after Tegan’s latest encounter with the Mara. Eventually, after crash landings and getting separated the travellers and the Sontarans are thrown together, for there is something ancient and deadly hunting in the dark.

Let us begin with the stars of the audio, the Sontarans. These are the Sontarans of the classic series. You can hear in the pitch perfect voices the echo of the late Kevin Lindsay as Linx and Styre from adventures gone by. It is thoroughly authentic and one of the great pleasures of this release.

What strikes you listening to this play is its rather light approach. The seven Sontarans have very different personalities but all are by the book soldiers and just a little bit thick. Writer Alan Barnes has made no secret that these are the Dad’s Army of the Sontaran Empire and he is not joking. 

They are all very individual characters with their own quirks, strengths and failings, whether it is  Seargant Mezz, an officer driven exclusively by protocol or the incredibly doom laden thoughts of the subtly brilliant character Trooper Jorr.

Some listeners may have an issue with the humorous tone of the story, but it is a clever plot device as it becomes quite clear as the story unfolds, there is a much darker reason as to why these Sontarans are so utterly useless. These are Sontarans that we, dare I say it, care about and it is all the richer for it.

The performances are all very good indeed. Peter Davison excels as always and Sarah Sutton, as the older Nyssa is wonderful, but a special mention must go to Derek Carlyle who puts in a very touching performance as Trooper Vend.

If anything negative can be said about this play is that some of the humour doesn’t quite work. Tegan’s acerbic put downs to the Sontarans become a bit annoying and Turlough has moments of cowardice that seem at odds even with his cowardly personality. The mysterious antagonists could have done with a bit more back story but what we are given is enough to make them work as rather chilling villains. 

With excellent direction by Ken Bentley and a superb musical score by Jamie Robertson, Heroes of Sontar is a highly recommended debut for the Sontarans at Big Finish and a strong start to the new Fifth Doctor season. 

9 May 2011

US breakfast TV show, The Today Show, has a Doctor Who feature presented by Meredith Vieira.

Below is the 8-minute video feature, which includes a clip and mild spoilers for Episode 13:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

[Source: MSNBC]

8 May 2011

The final BARB viewing figures are in for 6.2: Day of the Moon.

The episode achieved a final figure of 7.30m viewers, with an audience share of 36.7% (comparing to the 5.4m / 30.5% Overnights). This is a time shift of +1.9m.

6.2: Day of the Moon also achieved an Appreciation Index rating of 84.

+ What did you think of the episode?Rate / Discuss in the DWO Forums!

[Source: Andy Parish]

8 May 2011

The overnight viewing figures are in for 6.3: The Curse of the Black Spot.

The episode achieved a figure of 6.2m viewers, with an audience share of 30.9%.

Doctor Who was the second most-watched programme for Saturday, with Britain's Got Talent taking the top slot with 10.4m viewers.

Final BARB ratings will be available within the next 10 days.

+  What did you think of the episode? Rate / Discuss in the DWO Forums!

[Source: Andy Parish]

6 May 2011

Forbidden Planet have teamed up with Mego to produce a new range of Exclusive Doctor Who Dolls.

There are currently 4 dolls in the range which are exclusive to Forbidden Planet, and will be sold in pairs:

The 4th Doctor & Sontaran Major Styre

Cyber Leader & The Master

+  The Doctor Who Dolls range are released on 30th August 2011, priced £19.99 a pair.

+  Buy Now from Forbidden Planet!

[Source: Forbidden Planet]

<mce:script

6 May 2011

Any episode following on from the series 6 two-part opener would have a tough job on its hands, but Stephen Thompson's The Curse of the Black Spot, has delivered a mighty fine story that will unreservedly and undeniably buckle your swash.

The adventure begins on board a 17th-Century pirate ship that has been stranded for over a week. Members of the crew are falling prey to a curse of a black spot on their hands, which promptly summons a beautiful but deadly siren, played by Lily Cole.

The TARDIS team appear to be stowaways on board the ship - a situation that  Captain Avery (Hugh Bonneville), doesn't take too kindly to. After a few scuffles and a re-pegging of authority, the hunt begins for a cause, and indeed a cure for the curse.

It all feels very classic who, but yet unmistakably new who too, and a little bit Moffat-y in places also, but one of the biggest winning elements here is the wonderful atmosphere that the story and indeed the set, paints.

It's also good to see Rory being used more this season, and we certainly get to see some different sides to him in this adventure.

Expect some shocks and a couple more signature plot twists that Doctor Who is becoming famous for, and you have a thoroughly enjoyable 45 minutes, made more enjoyable by the fantastic guest cast.

If there is anything negative that could be said about the story, it would be the final scene, which, without giving too much away, feels all too similar to the penultimate scene from 6.2: Day of the Moon.

Rating: 8/10

Five things to look out for...

1) The tiniest scratch could mean death.

2) The brief return of the mysterious eye patch lady.

3) Shiny treasure isn't always rewarding.

4) I'm a _____. I can teach you how to save me!

5) Positive / Negative?

[Source: Doctor Who Online]

5 May 2011

BBC Magazines has today launched the Doctor Who Monster Invasion Magazine Trading Card partwork.

Start collecting the awesome new Doctor Who Monster Invasion and build up a mega-monster magazine and cool trading card collection.

Every issue comes with a pack of nine trading cards and is bursting with cool alien facts, monster slamdowns and puzzles! Learn how to play brilliant games with your cards and how to use them on the Doctor Who Monster Invasion website, to bring your 3-D cards to life and unlock brilliant game bonuses!

This new partwork launches today, so order now and be one of the first to receive it! PLUS receive a FREE TARDIS box with issues 2&3.

+  Subscribe now via the Doctor Who Monster Invasion website.

+  Fill in the blanks with your collection at CompareTheDalek.com.

+  Discuss the Monster Invasion Trading Card series in the DWO Forums.

[Source: BBC Magazines]

<mce:script

3 May 2011

it was bound to happen sooner or later...At last you can now play Doctor Who Monopoly.

The board game, which is limited to just 5000 sets, features all your favourite heroes, villains, monsters, planets and places from the worlds of Doctor Who.

The game will be available to buy from 31st August 2011, priced £29.99, but our friends at Forbidden Planet are currently offering it for the discounted price of just £26.99.

+  Preorder Doctor Who Monopoly for just £26.99 from Forbidden Planet!

[Source: Forbidden Planet]

<mce:script

1 May 2011

Forbidden Planet have teamed up with Character Options for another Exclusive Doctor Who Toy.

The 4th Doctor's Sonic Screwdriver is an electronic version of the Fourth Doctor's Sonic Screwdriver with 2 sounds and spring loaded sound activation.

The Sonic Screwdriver is a versatile tool and defensive device first used by the Doctor in his second incarnation for opening up hatches, panels and controls. 

Later uses included cutting through wall sections and even as a conventional screwdriver.  During the Fourth Doctor's reign, he remade yet another similar style of Sonic Screwdriver but with many more features and functions including micro soldering of circuitry, cutting wires and bulkheads and even detonating Dalek explosives.

+  The 4th Doctor's Sonic Screwdriver is Out Now, priced £19.99.

+  Buy Now from Forbidden Planet!

[Source: Forbidden Planet]

<mce:script

1 May 2011

The final BARB viewing figures are in for 6.1: The Impossible Astronaut.

The episode achieved a final figure of 8.86m viewers, with an audience share of 43.3%.

This is the biggest ever time shift for Doctor Who, and one of the biggest ever for BBC One with a +2.4 Million shift.

+ What did you think of the episode? Rate / Discuss in the DWO Forums!

[Source: Andy Parish]

1 May 2011

The overnight viewing figures are in for 6.2: Day of the Moon.

The episode achieved a figure of 5.4m viewers, with an audience share of 30.5%.

Doctor Who was the second most-watched programme for Saturday, with Britain's Got Talent taking the top slot with 9.5m viewers.

Final BARB ratings will be available within the next 10 days.

+  What did you think of the episode? Rate / Discuss in the DWO Forums!

[Source: Andy Parish]

28 April 2011

The BBC Doctor Who website have uploaded a teaser to their prequel for Episode 3 of Series 6.

The teaser offers a short 30-second insight into the full prequel which will air after 6.2: Day of the Moon, exclusively on the BBC Doctor who website at 6:45pm.

You can view the teaser video below:

+  6.3: The Curse of the Black Spot airs on Saturday 7th May 2011 at 6:15pm on BBC One.

[Source: BBC Doctor Who website]

28 April 2011

The BBC Doctor Who website have added The Game of Rassilon to their Games section.

Legends tell of a Time Lord challenge that would test the guile, intelligence and fortune of those brave enough to step forward. The challenge was known as The Game of Rassilon.

The Time Lords may be near to extinction and Gallifrey consigned to history, but after centuries in abeyance the game will be soon be resurrected…

This is not an Adventure Game but a series of games that test your knowledge of Doctor Who. Featuring clips, images, exclusive new footage with Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill plus other members of the cast and crew, the games are not to be taken lightly. You'll be able to challenge your friends or take the test in solitude.

For centuries the mighty Time Lords played The Game of Rassilon. Now it is your turn...

+  Play The Game of Rassilon.

[Source: BBC Doctor Who website]

28 April 2011

DWO have seen 6.2: Day of the Moon and have put our spoiler-free preview together:

It's been 7 days and the nail biting can finally end as the resolution to last week's cliffhanger is finally here…

6.2: Day of the Moon, doesn't immediately pick up from where last week left off, however. The final moments of the previous story are revisited in a fragmented form which feels more like a stylistic resolution than what we have come to accept from traditional cliffhangers.

We're also treated to one of the longest pre-title sequences in the show's history - over 6 and a half minutes in total!

As with our previous preview, it's an incredibly difficult episode to describe without giving too much away, but we can tell you that it's set 3 months after the events in The Impossible Astronaut, there's another prison with The Doctor's name on it and there are more shocks here than the previous episode.

Day of the Moon actually feels a little more complex than The Impossible Astronaut, even with a couple of answers to some niggling questions (no, not THAT question…yet) - your brain will literally hurt after the 45 minutes are up.

Moffat displays once more just how talented he is on every level, delivering a story that takes the show to new exciting levels and possibilities.

But the cherry on this proverbial cake of an episode comes in the final minute - in a scene that will have you screaming through your television set in a way that makes Maureen Lipman's portrayal of 'The Wire' look diluted.

May the nail biting begin…AGAIN!

Rating: 8/10

Five things to look out for...

1) Rory's addiction to a little red light.

2) A certain picture in a frame.

3) 2 body bags filled with people The Doctor cares about.

4) River makes a splash!

5) Video Phone.

[Source: Doctor Who Online]

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