Monday, March 11, 2013

Destiny of the Doctor: Shadow of Death - AudioReview

Article author: Alwyn Ash

Celebrating the longest-running science fiction show, Destiny of the Doctor delivers a mysterious and atmospheric tale that is worthy of an anniversary release...

Following on from January's First Doctor adventure Hunters of Earth, the second part of Big Finish and AudioGO's Destiny of the Doctor 50th anniversary series stars Frazer Hines as he narrates the tale, joined by Evie Dawnay as Doctor Sophie Topolovic. So what does Shadow of Death have to offer in terms of plot and production...?

First off, it can definitely be said that listening to Hines' performance is an absolute dream; his impersonation of Patrick Troughton's Doctor is beautifully acted, a genuine surprise following David Troughton's own achievement in Serpent Crest stories The Hexford Invasion and Survivors in Space, also released by AudioGO. There are moments when you just forget it is actually Hines who is playing the part. We are introduced to a base on the surface of a planet orbiting a pulsar, in the year 2724, where its crew are investigating the disappearance of the planet's original occupants, The Quiet Ones. Typically the TARDIS is forced to make an emergency landing and the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe find themselves in yet further danger...

Introducing the base-under-siege theme is so appropriate for this Doctor, and both music and sound design (courtesy of Simon Hunt) superbly recreates the show's sixties feel. Simon Guerrier's writing, perfectly polished by director John Ainsworth, offers a tale that will engage and intrigue for an hour.

With a theme that covers time distortion and pioneering, it just goes to show that you should never annoy your neighbours! It is also interesting to see a linked strand in these tales, a jigsaw puzzle reaching out and piecing every Doctor together. In previous story Hunters of Earth Susan sensed danger, "Something terrible is coming... I can feel it. Something that will affect, everything..."

In Shadow... the Doctor himself has an encounter with an element that will be instantly recognisable to Doctor Who fans. No spoilers. The Second Doctor's reaction to this event, however, is quite familiar, "You know you're breaking all the laws of time!"

Pairing in these tales so far works well (there is no doubt that Carole Ann Ford and Tam Williams were perfect choices in the debut for Destiny of the Doctor) and Dawnay as Sophie is no exception, opposite Hines. In January, writer Guerrier blogged, "the magnificent Evie Dawnay plays a character I named after my GCSE astronomy teacher".

Anyone not familiar with Dawnay will be interested to know that she has appeared in previous Big Finish audio drama Survival of the Fittest (opposite Seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy) and Bernice Summerfield adventure Year Zero, as Pallis; in addition to voice overs for TV and radio, there have been television parts including that of Vanessa Marsh in Law & Order UK (produced by Kudos Film & TV - other Dr Who actors to have appeared include Peter Davison and Freema Agyeman); film credits include The Fairbank Hotel (2003), where she portrayed the role of Aurora Dawn Phillips.

As for Hines, what else can be said? He is known for his roles as Jamie McCrimmon in Doctor Who from 1966 to 1969 (returning to the role twice, in 1983 and 1985) and Joe Sugden in British soap opera Emmerdale (1972-94). In Shadow... he not only reprises the role of Jamie but takes the story's heart and enlarges it to such an extent with his performance and narration that we, the listener, are treated to something... timeless.

Further reading: AudioGO - official website