18 February 2011

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Dick Sharples & Terry Nation (Adapted by Simon Guerrier & Nicholas Briggs)

RRP: £25.00

Release Date: 31st December 2010

Reviewed by: Paul Everitt for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 18th February 2011

Big Finish continue their Lost Stories season, with a very special box set dedicated to the second doctor; the great Patrick Troughton.  The box set includes two adventures plus over fifty minutes of bonus material – including interviews and a look behind the scenes. The first adventure sees Earth in a very different light, with a very sinister undertone throughout. The second adventure is rather special in its own right, a lost story involving the mighty Daleks which never saw the light of day...

The first adventure, Prison In Space see’s the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe looking for a little vacation. Even Jamie has become tired of fighting “wee little beasties”.  Promising them a vacation, with perhaps a picnic, the Doctor flies the TARDIS to safe haven – one with plenty of greenery and peace, or so he thinks. 

It’s not long before our heroes find themselves in trouble, arrested for trespassing the soon find that their so called haven is actually run by a mad tyrant – Chairman Babs. Not only do they find themselves arrested, the Doctor and Jamie soon realise that this world is run by women, who see men as inferiors – men are the weakest and are therefore treated like animals, with contempt and disdain. Soon things get even more serious as Jamie and the Doctor are sent to a prison in space, trailed and convicted for their crime – Zoe is left in the hands of the Chairman, forced to choose sides – with the resulting events proving to be explosive and quite unexpected. 

For this adaptation we see the return of Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury, reprising their roles as the Doctors companions. It’s great to hear the Scottish accent of Jamie return; Zoe is as bright as ever, in a part which really pushes Zoe to the limits. The sound effects bring back the sense of the sixties incarnation of the show, helping to push the narrative along at a great pace. Big Finish has adapted this lost script brilliantly, bringing back the essence of Patrick Troughton’s Doctor. This could have easily proved to be one of the second Doctor’s best TV adventures...

Moving onto the second adventure included in this box set, The Daleks: The Destroyers, is the adaptation of the unmade US TV Pilot. Big Finish has adapted this script into a gripping space adventure, full of tension and scares. This is definitely one to listen to by yourself in the dark. 

The adventure takes place around Explorer Base 1, a human exploration station – located on the surface of meteorite M5. Newly built and protected by a force wall, the occupants have no reason, to think of anything dangerous, from the swamp lands laying, just past the force wall. However in the darkness lurks a terrible threat – The Daleks. Within the first five minutes of the adventure, the station is ripped apart – all personnel killed in cold blood. 

Enter our three heroes, sent to investigate by the Special Space Security forces. Sarah Kingdom, played brilliantly by Jean Marsh is an intelligent, efficient agent, who has a habit of screaming. Mark Seven the android, with an emotion chip, classic good looks and superhuman strength. Played by Alan Cox, who gives the character life, making great use of the lines to inject some life, into what could have been a dull character. Then we have the leader of the squad, one Jason Corey rugged and intelligent. Jason is played by Chris Porter with an authority, which brings the character to life in your head.  The intrepid trio soon find themselves playing a cat and mouse game with the Daleks, trying to remain hidden – whilst discovering the alien’s master plan.

The narration to the story, drags you into this new world – masterfully read and acted making the hairs on your body tingle with excitement. The story is a lot darker than I had imagined, giving the Daleks a meaner darker look, than I can remember from the sixties. Even though there is a definite darker undertone, Big Finish have still managed to make it sound like an original episode from yester year. The main theme brought flashes of sixties TV flooding back, its catchy American style stays in your head, hours after listening to it. The score sets new standards, becoming at times operatic in substance, making you tense up, feel elation all at the right moments. Even the sound effects help you build a picture of what could have been, allowing you to connect to the main characters. A blinding story, which ends on a cliff-hanger, which I hope is resolved.

Also included is a fifty minute documentary, detailing how Prison In Space happened. A fascinating look into how the original script was found and the process that followed. It’s full of fact and gives us an insight into the love that the team had for Patrick Troughton

This box set prove compelling listening for any fan out there, showcasing what could have been if things were done a little differently.

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