BBV Reviews by Kathryn Sullivan

Reviews on this page: “Republica” and “Island of Lost Souls”, “Prosperity Island”, “Auton 2”, “Left Hand of Darkness”, “The Other Side”, “Guests for the Night”, “Cyber-Hunt”, “Last Mission”, “Eye of the Storm”, “Ghosts”, “Blood Sports”, “Vital Signs”, “Only Human”, “The Choice”, “Auton 3”, “Zygons: Homeland”, “The Search”, “Zygons: Absolution”, “Krynoids: Root of All Evil”, “Sontarans: Silent Warrior”, “Punchlines”, “Sontarans: Old Soldiers”, “Infidel’s Comet”, “The Pattern”, “The Rani Reaps the Whirlwind.”

FRIENDS OF DOCTOR WHO Volume 10, Number 2 Fall 1998


Audio Reviews
AUDIO ADVENTURES IN TIME AND SPACE
reviewed by Kathy Sullivan
“Republica”
by Mark Gatiss

“Republica” opens with the ending of a trial, then jumps to England in 1658 and the death of Lord Protector Cromwell.

The Professor and Ace arrive in London in 1998–but in a strangely different London. There’s no pollution, but there are anti-grav lifts. The political structure is also…off. America is a colony of the republic of England, as the Puritans continued to run England as a Commonwealth after Cromwell’s death in 1658. The descendant of King Charles II, living in exile in France, still seeks to be restored to the throne and decides to try now, in 1998, against an elderly Lord Protector. The Professor and Ace get caught up in the struggle between the two factions while trying to uncover what caused the change in history.

McCoy and Aldred fall easily into their old roles. There is a wonderful affection apparent in their dialog. The secondary characters are well developed and seem very real, even to the passerby complaining that his wife burned his lace collar. The choice of unique and distinct voices for the various parts makes it easy to tell the characters apart. Besides Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred, the cast includes John Wadmore as Le Compte, Andrew Fettes as Devlin, Bryonie Pritchard as Somerset, Michael Wade as Lambert, George Telfer as King Charles, John Ainsworth as Equerry and others, and Alistair Lock as additional voices.

Producer and director Bill Baggs’ experience with audio dramas, from the AudioVisual Adventures to the Stranger audios, shows in how well a scene is set with just a careful placement of sound effects, music or dialogue. The story flows evenly, and explanations are fitted in smoothly (even for Americans unfamiliar with English history) as Ace and the Professor work out what is different in this 1998. There are some wonderful humorous bits as well, some quite slyly understated.

The music by Alistair Lock is very good – I quite like the theme music – and adds a richness to his post production effects.

“Island of Lost Souls”
by Mark Gatiss

Scientists at a secret base in Greenland during World War II observe strange mutations in the nearby sea creatures, and one scientist vanishes just before Ace and the Professor (who insists they are in the south of France) arrive. The Professor studies the mutations and also learns that the base is conducting experiments in radar and sound technology. When the missing scientist reappears alive when he should have died from exposure to the cold, the Professor realizes that the experiments may have set something free.

This story is a mixture of historical thriller and horror that works rather well. There’re elements of similarity between this and John Campbell Jr.’s short story “Who Goes There?” (filmed as The Thing), but an additional complication adds another level of tension to the story.

Aldred and McCoy are a great team and, again, there’s an interesting cast of strong characters believably presented, with Julia Righton as Gudrun, Nicholas Briggs as Hendrix, John Wadmore as Connor, David Bracken as Oluffson, writer Mark Gatiss as Kell and Anthony Butler as Houser. . Post production and music (I really, really like the theme music) are again done by Alistair Lock, while Nicholas Briggs directed as well as acted. Briggs’s previous experience in directing BBV’s Auton series and the AudioVisual Adventures is also apparent, as he knows just when to up the tension with a background heartbeat effect or a faint slithering.

I highly recommend both “Republica” and “Island of Lost Souls”.
 

FRIENDS OF DOCTOR WHO Volume 10, Number 4 Spring 1999


Audio Reviews:
MORE AUDIO ADVENTURES IN TIME AND SPACE
reviewed by Kathy Sullivan

#4 THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS

The first of two solo Ace stories written by Mark Duncan opens with Ace the survivor of a crash. Blinded as a result of her injuries, she is rescued and cared for by lone researcher Dorsai (Miles Richardson, last seen in ‘Mindgame’). Over the months, as she attempts to find out what happened to the Professor, the blind Ace also tries to solve the mystery surrounding her rescuer. Why does he stay on this planet? What is he studying? Why do the native Tribis attack the compound? And why is Dorsai so curious about her relationship with the Professor?

The story is told both from Dorsai’s log entries and from Ace’s point of view. This mixture keeps the mystery going and also allows for an exploration of Ace’s motivations. How she justifies her actions both to herself and to Dorsai is a major part of the story. How does she see her friendship with the Professor; why doesn’t she believe, as Dorsai does, that the Professor has abandoned her? How does she cope with her blindness and with being dependent on someone she doesn’t trust? Mark Duncan, in both this and its sequel ‘The Other Side’, has captured the character of Ace very well–stubborn, independent, suspicious, loyal–and although this story has its predictable points, it’s enjoyable to listen to Sophie Aldred’s Ace in her own adventure.

The cast also includes John Ainsworth as the voice of the friendly house computer. Directed by Bill Baggs, the audio adventure has music by Harvey Summers and sound engineering by Alistair Lock. Post production was by Nick Briggs. 60 minutes. Recommended.

#5 THE OTHER SIDE

The second of two solo Ace stories written by Mark Duncan opens with Ace and the Professor returning to her home on Earth. Ace is in an accident, and her dead Nan appears to escort her to ‘The Other Side’.

In an attempt to convince Ace that she has died, Nan shows Ace the Professor’s grief at her death and her own funeral, and the Professor’s new companion, Nadia. But Ace doesn’t believe everything she sees.

This is another good Ace story, an interesting exploration of both the bond between the Professor and Ace and of Ace’s own strength of mind. The sound effects are used very well to indicate transitions.

Cast includes Barbara Shelley as Ace’s Nan, Jack Galagher as the paramedic, Jane Burke as Nadia, and John Ainsworth and Alistair Lock providing additional voices. Directed by Bill Baggs, post production and music by Harvey Summers and Alistair Lock. 40 minutes in length with a 15-minute ‘On CD’ interview with Nick Briggs, Alistair Lock, Bill Baggs, John Ainsworth and Sophie Aldred at the end. ‘On CD’ is an interesting discussion of the Audio Adventures. The interview, however, doesn’t explain why Sophie is wearing only a sheet on the cover of ‘The Left Hand of Darkness’ and ‘The Other Side’.

#6 GUESTS FOR THE NIGHT

Ace and the Professor visit a vacation lodge that promisesa ‘point of perfect stillness’ but instead find an old house that is a fallen-down ruin one moment and a inhabited mansion the next. They also run into Daniel, who is looking for his missing sister, a student of temporal physics. Inside the mansion (with continual mysterious organ music) live a strange sister and brother, a very clumsy butler, and a nanny who lives in the attic.

In addition to the missing sister, the Professor finds several mysteries to investigate. He and Ace have arrived one hundred and twenty years too soon for the vacation lodge, but the gardens of the house have a point where time stands still. While Ace fends off the helpful and hapless butler, the Professor and Daniel find that the sister and brother have plans for them–starting with drugged food.

The credits list sound effects by Alistair Lock and post production and music by Harvey Summers. Together both work extremely well for this mystery, especially the background sounds, ranging from insect life, mysterious organ music, and the ticking of different clocks.

‘Guests for the Night’ was directed by Nigel Fairs. The cast includes Sylvester McCoy as The Professor, Sophie Aldredas Ace, Catherine Debenham-Taylor as the self-centered Cecily, Oliver Bradshaw as the strange butler Webster, Nigel Fairs (who also wrote the story) as the gadget-making Harold, Julia Ackerman as the wonderfully warped Nanny, and Max Day as the searcher Daniel. A interesting mixture of humor and horror with terrific Professor and Ace moments. Some of the horror elements might be too strong for the more queasy listeners, but those moments don’t last too long. 60 minutes. Recommended.

#7 CYBER-HUNT

The seventh of the Audio Adventures is minus the Professor and Ace, but introduces a traveler named Fred (played by Nicholas Briggs). Written by Martin Peterson, the story opens with an enhanced journalist named Olivia reporting on the Cyber War (which has been going on for a hundred years) from the front lines in space. Meanwhile, a traveler happens upon an injured Cyber being on a desert planet. A detachment hunting the Cyber being (‘Cyb’ for short) lands on the planet and finds an injured traveler, who has lost his memory. The hunt continues, but now the Cyb is hunting the detachment as well. In addition, the reporter finds that her enhancements are somehow linking herself and the Cyb.

This is a fast-paced, very action-filled story. The writing is intelligent, giving the characters room to develop, and suspenseful. Just when you think one problem is dealt with, another pops up. Point of view skips between the main groups very skillfully, and since the different actors use accents, slang, and such, they are easy to tell apart.

The cast includes Helen Bang as Olivia, Andrew Fettes as Captain Halloran, Nicholas Briggs as ‘Fred’, Andrew James Dickens as Sergeant Grange, Stephen Franklin as Stevens, David Sax as Cyberon,and Robert Boole as CyberCom.

Sound engineer John Vance, post production sound by Nicholas Briggs and music by Harvey Summers. The new theme music has a few elements left from the old, but I like it so far. The incidental music is wonderful, especially the space military pieces. Sound effects are extremely well done.

I’m a big fan of the 80’s AudioVisuals which had Nicholas Briggs as the Doctor, and I’m delighted to encounter his space traveler once again. Cheerful, witty, polite to all beings, fast-thinking under pressure–I hope to hear more of this traveler. Other fans of that series will recognize names he drops. Directed by Nicholas Briggs. 70 minutes. Highly recommended.

Price: US £8.99 (roughly $14.83) each including postage and handling.

Payment by international draft (payable to BBV Distribution) or creditcard to:

BBV
3 Douglas Crescent
Bitterne
Southampton SO19 5JP
Hants
U.K.

Credit card phone orders (011) 44 1703 394844(remember the six to eight hour time difference)http://www.bbvonline.co.uk/
 

BBV reviews

FRIENDS OF DOCTOR WHO Volume 10, Number 2 Fall 1998

Video Reviews:
AUTON 2
reviewed by Kathy Sullivan

Auton 2: Sentinel, written and directed by Nick Briggs, takes place two years after the events in Auton. Returning cast members are Michael Wade as Lockwood, Bryonie Pritchard as Dr. Sally Arnold, Andrew Fettle as Sergeant Ramsay and George Telfer as Graham Winselt.

A UNIT lorry of Autons suddenly gets hijacked, and UNIT’s Containment One, with Lockwoodand Doctor Sal Arnold is called upon to help. But then Lockwood is pulled away from his team to work withyet another team and their Scientific Adviser, Natasha Alexander, and is not about to mention to them that he seems to be receiving images of the Autons’ movements. And Alexander is hiding things from him as well.

This is a fast-paced and intelligently written story that yet makes allowances for newcomers. Twice, just when a new viewer might be wondering what is going on, a good recap of pertinent events from Auton is inserted. The passage of two years is apparent: people have moved on, and red tape and bureaucracy have snarled things again. Or have they?

There are mysteries for returning viewers as well: Why is Lockwood receiving the images? Why have the Autons taken over a village but left the inhabitants alive? Why have the villagers welcomed the Autons?

The video has several pretty locations, a good-sized crowd of extras both in the village and as UNIT soldiers, and a good explosives budget. Special effects are extremely well-done. There are several CGI effects that rival what is available on the TV screentoday. There are also the regular trademarks of a Nick Briggs story: interesting camera angles and tricks, strong characters, and his cameo appearance (always welcome to me). A number of the actors in this video were also in the Audio Adventures he directed (“Island of Lost Souls”).

The cast also invludes Jo Castleton as Natasha Alexander, John Wadmore as Colonel Wilson, Warren Howard as Daron, and Patricia Merrick as Charlotte.

Whether you enjoy a nice UNIT story with lots of explosions, and interesting story exploring psychic abilities, or you just think the Nestene is one of the best baddies around, you will enjoy this video.

There is also a segment from the UK Sci-Fi Channel on The Making of Auton 2.

I do highly recommend it.

 

BBV reviews

FRIENDS OF DOCTOR WHO Volume 11, Number 1 Summer 1999

Audio Adventures in Time & Space

reviewed by Kathy Sullivan

Story 8

The Stranger Chronicles
“The Last Mission”

Note: These CDs are re-releases. Both “The Last Mission” and”Eye of the Storm” were released on audio cassettes in 1995. The liner notes have a history of the Stranger stories, bothvideos and audios.

“The Last Mission”, written and directed by Nicholas Briggs (who also handles the postproduction sound and music), is set between the Stranger videos “The Terror Game” and “Breach of the Peace” and is basically a flashback to when Soloman was a Preceptor terrorist.

The cast includes Colin Baker as Soloman, David Troughton as Egan, John Wadmore as Saul, Holly King as Rose, Elisabeth Sladen as Mirus Alexa, and Nicholas Barclay as the Drain Man. 60 minutes.

Story 9

The Stranger Chronicles
“Eye of the Storm” by Arthur Wallis

“Eye of the Storm”, written and directed by Nicholas Briggs (who again did the postproduction sound and music), goes a step further in exploring the motivations of the terrorists who once worked with Soloman. Additional cast includes David Terence as Hunter, Karen Henson as Meta, and Amanda Hurwitz as Sheila.

“Eye of the Storm” is basically the audio version of the video “Eye of the Beholder” (but with a few changes — one major) and is identical to the previous audio released on cassette version a few years ago. The label claims that the CD ‘version contains extra material not included in original release’ but I didn’t hear the extra material. This complaint also ties in with the issue I have with the series numbering. BBV’s Audio Adventures now has four separate lines–The Time Travelers, The Stranger Chronicles, The Wanderer and now the Adventures in a Pocket Universe–and yet they’re all included in one numbering system. If you want all the releases it’s fine–the one numbering system allows the buyer to know which is the newest release. But if you only want one line–say, the Time Travelers–this is very confusing and very irritating. And if re-releases are numbered as new releases, it gets even more confusing.

If you didn’t get the audio cassettes of “The Last Mission” and “Eye of the Storm” back in 1995, I highly recommend the CDs.These are excellent stories–well written with excellentperformances by all the actors.
 

BBV reviews

FRIENDS OF DOCTOR WHO Volume 11, Number 2 Fall 1999

Audio Adventures in Time & Space
reviewed by Kathy Sullivan

 

Story 10

The Time Travellers

“Ghosts” by Nigel Fairs

Two travellers are on a tourist flight to volcanic islands in attempt to recover a lost memory. But when a tragedy separates them, ‘Alice’ decides to start her own investigation. What did Madame Eternal have to do with her friend and the President? Why did the President also have a lost memory?

Directed by Nigel Fairs (who also wrote it), “Ghosts” is uneven in places, such as an uncertainty about the lead characters’ names and what the audience thought they knew about them–that ‘The Dominie’ could even lose a memory, for one. Even the music and post production by Harvey Summers has a slight problem when an important announcement by the President seems to have a party with loud laugher in the background.

Despite those problems, “Ghosts” is an interesting mystery.

The cast includes Sylvester McCoy as The Domine, Sophie Aldred as Alice (this adventure has the change in names from the Professor and Ace), Caroline Burns-Cook as Madame Eternal, Joe Young as Saul, John Cormack as Alistrair Briggs, and Toby Eddington as President Maxington.
60 minutes.

Recommended.

Story 11

The Wanderer

“Vital Signs” by Tim Saward

The Museum of Universal History and Cosmographies on the company planet of Ephestus seems beset with misfortune– exhibits eating people, computer systems gone wrong, and a new director more concerned with profits than the museum. In the midst of an unseasonal snow storm, a driver stops to rescue a stranded traveller known as ‘Fred’. The two (plus budgie) soon find themselves dodging wolf attacks and snow drifts on their way to the Museum. Meanwhile, the Museum director suspects sabotage behind the weather problems, but the wolves aren’t so easily explained away.

This is a fascinating story. Nicholas Briggs and Jack Galagher are wonderful as Fred and Kevin snipe at each other on their way across the city. Will Warrior puts the perfect edge on Murphy’s crankiness, while Richard Franklin as Cellax the Curator is at turns arrogant, oily and devious. John Ainsworth’s direction brings out the best in this story.

The cast includes Nicholas Briggs as Fred, Richard Franklin as Cellax, Jack Galagher as Kevin, Louise Morrell as Phoebe, Will Warrior as Murphy/Gerda and Andrea Newland as Andora/Receptionist. Music and post production is by Harvey Summers.
60 minutes.

Highly recommended

Story 12

The Time Travelers

“Only Human” by Mark J Thompson

The Dominie and Alice decide to visit Earth, but their space time machine instead lands on a far different planet–one where the ground is covered in blood and the buildings are made of body parts. Even stranger, the inhabitants are claiming that the travelers are contaminating the area by their presence. The space machine’s next stop is a space station with only one inhabitant left, a very friendly and accomodating android named Vixxy. But what is Vixxy not saying about the disappearance of the rest of the station’s inhabitants?

This is an uneven story, as Alice is suddenly at odds with The Dominie, accusing him throughout of being manipulative and superior. This is completely opposite to the wonderful affection at the end of “Ghosts”, so I kept wondering if I had missed a story between the two Time Travellers stories. An additional layer of angst is added with another revelation about Alice’s past.

Sylvester McCoy as The Dominie, Sophie Aldred as Alice, Jo Philips-Lane as Samantha, Sammie Winmill as Vixxy, Peter Dean as Reg, Gary Hailes as Karsius, and other voices by various members of the cast. Directed by Mark J Thompson.
60 minutes.
Recommended.

Audio Adventures in Time & Space #13
Adventures in A Pocket Universe
“The Choice” by Nigel Fairs

K-9 and “The Mistress” return, but not to Normal space. Still in the pocket universe of E-space, K-9 and his Mistress, at the story’s opening, are staying at the court of Emperor Lukor while K9 attempts to repair their space-time machine with available materials. The Mistress, meanwhile, is bored. The court keeps gives elaborate dinners praising her deeds in E-space, such as her defeat of slavetraders on one planet or her discovery of a plague cure on another. But when Emperor Lukor decides to propose marriage, the Mistress decides it’s time to leave, whether the repairs are complete or not.

Lalla Ward and John Leeson are wonderful as The Mistress and K9. There’s a delightful sequence with K9 trying to get straight historical facts from a Court Historian (Oliver Bradshaw) who loves to embroider the simplest tale with colorful metaphors.

The approach on this story seems interesting at first–it opens with a scene from later in the story and then flashes back. But the twist at the very end detracts from the horror of the final climax, as does the discovery that the title refers to actually isn’t. There were too many major plot points set up that didn’t stay standing and one major discovery that wasn’t didn’t explain how the Mistress figured everything out. Nigel Fairs both wrote and directed “The Choice”.

The theme music for this series seems to be an odd mixture of the theme from ‘Beetlejuice’ and a speeded up DW theme. The ‘boingy’ parts are at odds with both the idea of the pair–surely this series isn’t meant to be a comedy? –and the events of the audio drama. Harvey Summers again does post production and music.

Despite the confusion, hearing The Mistress and K9 working together once again is fantastic and the audio is worth it for that alone.

Lalla Ward as The Mistress, John Leeson as K9, Keith Drinkel as Emperor Lukor, Oliver Bradshaw as the Court Historian, Bernard Kay as Burns, Maggie Stables as Lenora and Neil Bull as Nathanien.

Approx. 60 minutes
Recommended

Story 14

The Time Travellers
“Blood Sports” by Nigel Fairs

Tourists should be wary whenever The Dominie and Alice are about. This time they’re on a luxury train ride to Vienzza when the first of several bodies turns up.

This audio has an interesting mix of characters from different cultures and languages, which made the story that much richer. It’s also nice to hear references back to the events in ‘Ghosts’ and ‘Only Human’, as well as a very little but welcome reference to the Audio Visuals. The Dominie (using a another name for the passenger list) and Alice are back on friendly terms and are once again the smoothly-working team I enjoy listening to.

As well as Sylvester McCoy as The Dominie and Sophie Aldred as Alice, the cast also includes Jackie Skarvellis as Betty Durham, Bernard Kay as Sid Durham, Keith Drinkel as Baloney, Andrew Laycock as Leach, John Cormack as Zagess and Jo Castleton as Djala.

Graheme Wilson handles post production and music quite well, with only one possible mis-step at the opening when something sounded more comedical than was probably intended. Otherwise I quite enjoyed several of the musical cues.

60 minutes. Highly recommended.

Price: UK £7.99, US and Australia £8.99 each including postage and handling. Buy both together for: UK £15.99, US and Australia £17.99 including postage and handling.

Payment by international draft (payable to BBV Distribution) or credit card to:

BBV
3 Douglas Crescent
Bitterne
Southampton SO19 5JP
Hants
U.K.

Credit card phone orders (011) 44 1703 394844
(remember the six to eight hour time difference)

Story 15

Familiar Faces New Adventures series

“Zygons: Homeland” by Paul Dearing

The UN Military and their scientific adviser Guy Dean find an international conspiracy with ties from England and Colombia, and somehow it is linked to a name familiar from their files: ‘Zygon’.

Directed by Nicholas Briggs, there’s some nice twists, some predictable, some not. A large mystery is hinted at for the main character, who seems to know more than the average human and delights in irritating the Colonel, but that is never resolved.

This story was hard to listen to without trying to insert a particular Doctor and a companion who also had initials of JG. It did get to the point where I was accepting Guy Dean as a sort of Doctor/Jason King character…until the end where the writer, after using fairly standard Zygon props, seems to forget the listeners might remember the Zygon ship from the series, and opts for depressing rather than action.

The CD has one major production problem in that the initial release has no tracks–no breaks/chapters/bands. I have learned that later releases will have the tracks reinserted, but this release is difficult to listen to, because the listener cannot stop at any point and go back to where she/he left off. Whenever you stop, you have to relisten to the entire CD FROM THE BEGINNING to get to the spot where you left off. And there are a number of times when the reaction is what just happened? but you can’t go back and listen again.

The cast includes John Albasiny as Guy Dean, Andrew Fettes as the Colonel, Kirsty Yates as Julie, Nicholas Briggs as the Captain, Susan Travers as Morag, Andrew Molton as Daniel Gabriele, and David Sax and Arthur Wallis (Nicholas Briggs) providing Zygon voices. Music and post production is by Harvey Summers.

Approx. 60 minutes
Recommended, but you might want to wait for the version with tracks.

Story 16

Adventures in A Pocket Universe

“The Search” by Mark Duncan

Archaeologists from the planet Herta, surveying star systems for signs of ‘The Ancients’ happen upon a deserted Dyson sphere. Meanwhile, The Mistress and K9 are still working on their time/space travelling vessel. A test run of the vessel brings them to the same Dyson sphere, which they decide to explore for needed parts. But were the two landings coincidence? Is K-9’s odd behavior due to the radiation level within the sphere or something else?

The ideas start out large and vast, but I found myself wondering why there were corridors within a Dyson sphere and how convenient it was that both parties managed to pick the same entry portal out of all that huge amount of space. Otherwise, the story has good science details, some nice ‘day in the life of Mistress and K9’ elements, an interesting mystery but an overdone ‘archeologist possessed by religious fervor’. The Mistress and K9 are still a great team to listen to.

The cast includes Lalla Ward as The Mistress, John Leeson as K9/Zorin, Graeme Du-Fresne as Kimmel and Vulich, Mike McCormack as Caloyer, and Bryonie Pritchard as Jora. Post production and music by Michael Neilson, and Bill Baggs directed.

60 minutes.
Recommended.
 

BBV reviews

FRIENDS OF DOCTOR WHO Volume 11, Number 3 Winter 2000

Familiar Faces New Adventures
reviewed by Kathy Sullivan
Story 17

Familiar Faces New Adventures series

“Zygons: Absolution” by Paul Ebbs

The neo-Christian colonists of Ganta 4 fish the oceans and trade their catch with the corporation mining the planet. But one day there’s a much bigger creature in their nets, something that hunts them. When one colonist is carried off and later returns, it’s called a miracle by their religious leader. But the miners are surprised when the colonists suddenly cut off communication.

Peter Miles turns in a believable performance as the charismatic leader of the colony, but Bryonie Pritchard as Justine Hallon, the company representative, is the character more listeners will identify with, as she tries to find out what is happening to the colony.

Directed by Tim Saward, some of the religious scenes are overladen with ‘amens’, but the plot is set out well, with some nicely unpredictable twists.The cast includes Peter Miles as Christopher Shaw, Bryonie Pritchard as Justine Hallon, Alistair Lock as the dryly humorous Nik, Adam Bampton-Smith as the bewildered survivor Peter, Tim Saward as Hrystic, Patricia Merrick as Risela/Vettes and Paul Ebbs as Turner. There is no mention in the credits for the Zygons, but Michael Neilson’s post production work results in recognizably Zygon voices and very nice sound effects. The incidental music is also well done.

Approx. 60 minutes
Recommended.

Story 18

Familiar Faces – New Adventures series

“Krynoids: The Root of All Evil” by Lance Parkin

The Ministry of Agriculture is called to investigate a weed infestation on a farm in Yorkshire. But the only match the two investigators find for the weed is a listing from the Chase Foundation of two seed pods from Antarctica.

This is a fast-paced traditional story with the standard elements used well. The isolated setting sets up the creepy factor and the usual disbelieving policeman has been made into a believable person. The sound effects are used well–the rattle sounds of the Krynoid, the whip sound of the tentacles–and Steve Johnson has designed some very chilling music. The dialog verges at times on the talky side, but all in all, this is a good story with strong characters.

The cast includes Catherine Church as Eve Black, Mark Donovan as Karl, James Warrior as Jeff Ogden, Neil Bull as Martyn Harris, and Holly King as Sally Ogden. Post production and music by Steve Johnson, and Paul Ebbs directed.

55 minutes.
Both “Zygons” and “Krynoids” stories are included together in a two CD package.

Recommended.

Story 19

Familiar Faces – New Adventures series

“Sontarans: Silent Warrior” by Peter Grehan

The GM cargo ship ‘Genesis’ has a number of problems. Its clone tanks don’t contain livestock but stowaways, its computer system, Sentinel, is suspicious of one of the two-person crew, and a lifepod containing a strange traveler named Alex has just been brought on board.

Why did Sylvia work out a deal with the Sontarans, and what is their plan? Is Alex’s arrival merely an accident? Why does Sentinel assume Alex is an enforcer?

Directed by Tim Saward, ‘Silent Warrior’ is a well-plotted story with strong characters. John Wadmore is excellent as Field Major Starn (and, I suspect, several other Sontarans). Starn is not the average Sontaran, which makes this audio interesting. Alex is an fascinating new character, very calm and polite under pressure, very observant–useful since he’s in space as a watcher for his people–and very interested in history. He also knows a Sontaran when he sees one. The listener might notice some similarities at first to Lockwood, Michael Wade’s role in the Auton series, but the character moves on from that.

The cast includes Paula O’Grady as Sylvia Tanner, John Wadmore as Field Major Starn, Polly Pritchett as the very endearing Sentinel and Michael Wade as Alex. Post production and good space music designed by Michael Neilson. One complaint I do have is that there’s no theme music for this series, something I miss.

60 minutes.
Recommended

 

BBV Reviews

FRIENDS OF DOCTOR WHO Volume 12, Number 1 Summer 2000

BBV Reviews
Audio Adventures in Time and Space
reviewed by Kathy Sullivan

Familiar Faces – New Adventures: The Dominie
Story #21
“Punchline”
by Jeremy Leadbetter

 

‘Punchline’ opens with an unfunny situation comedy– complete with laugh-track and applause at inappropriate moments–that goes on and on and on and on… Very very slowly there are hints that one actor isn’t what he seems, that he remembers another life. But the other actors are united in keeping him on track and within the script, even to feeding him lines.

This story is very painful to listen to, since the sit-com repeats itself again and again for most of the story (it feels like 45 minutes, but it’s actually only about 30 minutes). For those listeners who do last through the repeats, there’s a long discussion of which fantasy world is better. But why would anyone think that an alien would enjoy being trapped in a ’70s (feels more like a US ’60s) sit-com?

Some might think this story interesting, but I found the first part tedious and the rest raised too many questions about the Dominie–how was he captured, why was it taking him so long to figure out what had happened, and why would a sit-com (and was it radio or television?) interest him (if it did)–that were left unanswered. There was also that broad hint about a blue box.

Sylvester McCoy is the Dominie/Dominic Perkins. The cast also includes Susan Travers as June, Barry J. Gordon as Sir, and Neil Bull as Kevin. “Punchline” is directed by Paul Ebbs, with post production and music by Steve Johnson.
60 minutes.

Story #22
“Sontarans: Old Soldiers”
by Colin Hill and Simon Gerard

“Sontarans: Old Soldiers” opens in the midst of a battle–but it is the memory of a battle recalled by a very poetic being.

Captain Alice Wells of UNIT interviews a warrior about the mysterious deaths of UNIT soldiers during field tests. Captured in 1918, the captive Sontaran discusses human history as seen through his eyes. This is a much more articulate Sontaran than has been seen in the past, and his comparisons between his culture and that of his captors is interesting.

Captain Wells’ hardest problem is getting the Sontaran to trust her–to her he is definitely involved with the deaths, or he knows the cause. But he is soon interviewing her.

John Wadmore has portrayed Sontarans in one video production and now two audios, and he has been able to make unique individuals of each member of this race of clones.

This storyline does have a few problems, such as one character talking to the mike, an overly emotional reaction on another’s part (and this a soldier!), and an extremely illogical final scene that didn’t seem to follow any military procedure. But the first part started off interesting, until the amount of information/history began to be overwhelming. With this and “Punchline” BBV seems to be trying something different than straightforward adventures.

The cast consists of Sally Faulkner as Wells and John Wadmore, who also directed, as Commander Brak. “Old Soldiers”s script editing is by Paul Ebbs and post production, excellent sound effects and haunting music are by Mike Neilson.
60 minutes.

Story #23
“Infidel’s Comet”
by Colin Hill and Simon Gerard

The people who wrote “Sontarans: Old Warriors” return with a story of a huge comet on a collision heading with Earth. BBC reporter Kate Spencer is on the scene as the comet instead goes into orbit. Tentacles sprout from the ‘comet’ and the broadcast goes dead. The story then switches from live action to a narration by Henry, a bank robber commenting from some later time on how people reacted to the comet while he and his partner Jimmy robbed a bank. Tentacles rip off the roof of the bank and snatch up both Jimmy and Henry. Then the story switches back to the live broadcast from the BBC, and reporter Kate Spencer is snatched.

The switches from live action to Henry’s narration of his memory of the event are very disconcerting. Plus, Henry doesn’t seem to be a stereotypical bank robber–he can identify Sontarans, Zygons and ‘Slanties’ and knows about traveling in space. Narration is one way of telling the listener what is happening during an audio story, but it does remove the sense of danger, since obviously the narrator survived. And then the listener learns something else about the three taken from Earth.

While BBV’s attempt at original sf is interesting, too many elements just suddenly pop up–aliens, robots, religious leaders–leaving the listener muttering, “What? Huh?” far too many times. Best for the listener to think of it as a Hitchhiker’s Guide-type story–anyone expecting straight science fiction will be disappointed. My opinion on this story is very low also because of the way the story is told, with live action for one character, narration of past events for another character, and back to live action (“oh no, I’m being lifted up into the air”).

Jo Castleton is Kate Spencer. The cast also includes Paul Ryan as Henry, Kieran Smith as Jimmy, Adam Stafford as John Haworth and Gary Barber as Terin. “Infidel’s Comet” is directed by Jo Castleton, with post production and music by Mike Neilson.
60 minutes.

Disc #24
“On CD: Music by Mike Neilson”

Included in the CD case for Story #23 is an hour long CD consisting of a short interview of Mike Neilson conducted by Bill Baggs, and the music from “Absolution”, “Silent Warrior”, “Cybergeddon” and “Old Soldiers”. The interview only lasts about twenty minutes, but the background story of how Mike Neilson composes the music is interesting.

I’ve remarked before in other reviews how innovative and haunting the music from those stories have been. To be able to listen to several tracks of these pieces uninterrupted is a treat. I just wish I could have gotten this CD separately.

60 minutes.

Story #25
“The Pattern”
by Mark Duncan

Mark Duncan’s newest story opens with Logan explaining the Omni, the interdimensional pathways she uses to travel. Then her mission begins as Orb warns her that anomaly has been located.

In the mountains of Ecuador, Coleridge, a budgetary administrator, arrives at the Mount Chimborazo Radio Observatory with bad news for Doctors Chase and Easton. But the fate of the Observatory becomes complicated when a strange surge of energy strikes the radio antenna and somethinginvades the computer system. Logan is found in the generator room and blamed when something invisible starts killing people.

This is an excellent story, with believable and likeable characters, good science, fast paced action and nice suspense. The isolated base under threat plot is a common horror story, and this version is very nicely done, thanks to an excellent cast. Mike Neilson’s music nicely sets the place and mood.

Susan Travers is the alien Logan and her assistant Orb, Peter Yapp as Coleridge, Catherine Barker as the perceptive Doctor Veronica Chase, Carlos Amsell as Mac and Brett James as Doctor Michael Easton. Music by Mike Neilson, Post Production by Gareth Preston, Script Editor/Director Paul Ebbs.
60 minutes

I hope that this is only the first of many stories about Logan, Orb, and their travels in the Omni.

Highly recommended.

BBV Reviews

FRIENDS OF DOCTOR WHO Volume 12, Number 3 Winter 2001

BBV Reviews
Audio Adventures in Time and Space
reviewed by Kathy Sullivan

Story #28
“The Rani Reaps the Whirlwind”
by Pip & Jane Baker

 

“The Rani Reaps the Whirlwind” opens where “Time and the Rani” ended–with the Rani hanging upside down, now a captive of the Tetraps she had been about to abandon. She is put on trial by her former servants and sentenced to death, a sentence that will be delayed only if she helps replenish her captors’ food supply–blood.

The story then shifts briefly to Earth. Three friends are captured by Tetraps for the Rani’s experiments. But the Rani decided to enlist the aid of her experimental subjects for something of more importance to her–her escape. But can the humans trust someone who has already proven she cares for no one but herself?

This is a chilling story at times, as the humans slowly realize what has happened to them and the purpose for which they have been brought to the Tetraps’ home planet. The Rani hasn’t changed–she still believes that all lifeforms are for her exploitation and experimentation, with no consideration of the physical or emotional harm she causes. It is probably only due to her experiences with the Doctor’s companions in the past that causes her to think that humans can help her, since she doesn’t demand the help of any of the other alien races in her laboratory.

Kate O’Mara steps back into the role of The Rani perfectly. Arrogant, demanding, cold, inconsiderate–her performance of the character reminds the listener why Time Lords are often feared by other beings. Anthony Keetch, Edward Cory and Patricia Merrick all carry their dual roles wonderfully, keeping their characters distinct enough that you don’t notice until you read the credits that there actually isn’t a large cast.

Pip & Jane Baker’s “The Rani Reaps the Whirlwind” is an interesting examination of the troubles an arrogant being can get into and how human resourcefulness is not something to be overlooked. The resolution of the story leaves the return of the Rani possible in future audios, and it will be interesting to see if BBV does bring her back.

Directed by Bill Baggs, “The Rani Reaps the Whirlwind” has music and post production by Mike Neilson.

The cast includes Kate O’Mara as The Rani, Anthony Keetch as Urak/Dean, Edward Cory as Sam/Vorag, Patricia Merrick as Lucy/Pivor, and Brian Knight as Arbitus.

60 minutes
Recommended.

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Links

Sites of interest to sf/f writers, and especially e-authors:
Patricia Wrede's Worldbuilding
SFWA articles on writing
Broad Universe
YA Authors You’ve Never Heard Of
EPIC; Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition
New Voices Competition
eBook (Wikipedia)

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