Review by Doctor Squee (Host of Gallifrey Stands Podcast)
I love a little twist on the formatting that Big Finish do and again they have done it with these 2 interlinking stories in one release. Each getting an hour. So you get the pace of a modern 1 hour drama, cliffhangers in the middle and 2 stories that are different but one builds on the other. And in this way you technically get a 4 parter of sorts too
The Doctor & Nyssa come across the trail of 10 dead worlds. When they reach the 11th planet in the system in-tact they investigate. Nyssa is soon separated from the Doctor and up against arachnid creatures they name ‘cell-spiders’. Added to their troubles the locals don’t believe either the Doctor or Nyssa are really from another world and are suspicious of them. Can our heroes save the day, the planet and themselves?
I wasn’t sure if I was going to miss the more crowded Tardis we have had recently with the 5th Doctor. I know to some it seems overly busy: but I like this crew feeling to the Tardis. As it is in this story (and the other story in the set) they have given the right sort of tale for a Doctor & Nyssa adventure. It leans into the science. Whereas it’s sometimes nice to have Teagan busting chops or Adric complaining the 5th Doctor isn’t listening to him and trying to prove himself, this would have got in the way here. I found a few times the 5th Doctor was doing a few things that might have suited another Doctor better; like 6 or 7. Such as when he used a switch to give an electric shock to some locals. I feel the 5th Doctor might be a little more gentle and nuanced than that. But the main thing is he was interesting and it fit the story, so this didn’t overly bother me.
Nyssa is a really interesting character but does need to be written well. Both she and the 5th Doctor are very down to business, very friendly mild mannered types. I like this, but this does mean they need most of the conflict to come from without, as opposed to Teagan who could argue with herself if she needed to! Again this story achieves that very well. Alex Tregear as Theebe is an especially good antagonist.
Well done to writer Stephen Cole for an exciting, well paced story. As the next part of my review contains more spoilers; if you haven’t listened yet and don’t want to read on, I assure you both stories are great and worth buying!
Medium to major spoilers!
Guy Adams, one of Big Finish’s most prolific writers gives us this next story. After last seeing the probable demise (or at very least capture) of the Doctor and Nyssa at the end of Alien Heart at the hands of the Daleks, we now find them fit and well and seemingly working for the Daleks. Why and how?
I love it when Doctor Who allows for established characters to play something completely different. Peter Davison particularly gets to dive into an evil version of the character. All the brains, none of the morals and he by all accounts relishes it. Whereas Nyssa never completely succumbs to the evil; Sarah Sutton gets to play a conflicted character; a Nyssa who feels like what she is doing is wrong, but knows she is meant to be on the side of the Daleks.
It also gives us a chance to see the Daleks being evil whilst unencumbered by a Doctor trying to stop them. I try to never take for granted the amazing job Nicholas Briggs does not only doing a great characterful Dalek voice, but giving you the feeling that each Dalek is a different character. Can’t be easy when they have the same basic voice and motivation.
It might have been nice to have a scene with the real Doctor & Nyssa maybe at the end; just so we could nail down where they left and the replicants came into the story instead; but maybe this is in there and I will get it in a further listen. This though did not stop my enjoyment of the set.
This is a really imaginative and action packed 2-story set. Dalek Soul is my favourite of the 2, but it’s job is definitely made easier when you have a great story to build off. The music is also particularly strong in this one. Big Finish is always great with music and the use of it, but as I think more in terms of story than music, I am guilty of taking it for granted sometimes. However this one really struck a chord with me from the outset (pun intended!)
I know there is a lot of love for the classic 4 part, 30 minute episode format in these releases, but I hope they do a few more like this as well peppered in. With Big Finish’s amazing level of output, isn’t the beauty that we don’t have to choose? We can have it all!
I give this set a spidery 8 legs out of 10!
Download here: https://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/alien-heart-dalek-soul-1254
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