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Audio Drama Review


Doctor Who
The Oseidon Adventure


Starring: Tom Baker
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £10.99 (CD), £8.99 (download)
ISBN: 978 1 84435 617 1
Available 30 June 2012

The first time the fearsome Kraals attempted to take over the Earth, with the help of their android agents, things didn’t go quite according to plan - thanks to the efforts of the time-travelling alien known as the Doctor and his allies at UNIT. This time, Marshal Grinmal and his belligerent cohorts are ready for them. This time, they’ll make no mistakes. This time, Chief Scientist Tyngworg has not just one plan, but a back-up plan, and a back-up back-up plan worked out. With the Doctor a prisoner on the Kraals’ radiation-blasted home planet of Oseidon, only his companion Leela can save the day - alongside a most unlikely ally...

Rounding off Big Finish’s first season of Fourth Doctor releases, The Oseidon Adventure (see what writer Alan Barnes did there?) also completes what has effectively been a four-part Master serial split over two months. At the end of Trail of the White Worm, the Master (Geoffrey Beevers) opened up a spatial wormhole to his alien allies, who arrive at the start of this CD. No prizes for guessing that these allies are the Kraals - unless you have strenuously avoided looking at the front cover.

Producing a sequel to The Android Invasion, one of the least acclaimed Hinchcliffe-era serials, may seem like a strange thing to do. However, rather than shying away from the weaknesses of this Terror of the Zygons wannabe, The Oseidon Adventure celebrates them by featuring a UNIT that is completely devoid of familiar commanding officers (the sad fact that Nicholas Courtney, Patrick Newell and John Acheson are all deceased obviously precludes an appearance by the Brigadier, Colonel Faraday or Major Beresford) and Kraals who sound decidedly like Zippy from Rainbow.

The latter are realised with uncanny accuracy by Dan Starkey and John Banks. Starkey is better known for playing Sontarans, but the 15 minutes of extras at the end of the disc explain how he, Banks and director Ken Bentley identified the crucial vocal differences between the Sontarans and the Kraals.

Meanwhile, Beevers’s Master sounds and acts more like Roger Delgado’s Master than ever before. Maybe it’s because of all those unabridged novelisations of Delgado stories Beevers has been reading, but it’s easy to imagine that the two Masters are the same character in different physical conditions. Like Delgado, Beevers uses allies and hypnotism and everything - only this time in fast forward. Due to the lightning pace of this series, the Master’s allies betray him within minutes of their arrival.

However, the writer has a trick or three up his sleeve. By combining the Kraals’ talent for making android duplicates and the Master’s penchant for disguise, Barnes creates a veritable Russian doll of the story, which unfolds in such a way that you’re never really sure who is who (or even Who) and who is the master of whom.

He also throws in light-hearted references to controversies that were topical in 1977, including the abolition of free school milk and the disappearance of Lord Lucan - as well as another disappearance that would take place a few years later.

The emulation of the period also includes authentic-sounding Oseidon control panels, screeching Kraal doors and the Master’s staser pistol, all courtesy of sound designer Andy Hardwick. It’s easy to visualise many of the scenes as you hear them. It helps that one sequence in particular essentially resumes a similar scene in The Android Invasion - if you don’t know which one I mean, check out the photograph on the CD inlay’s centre spread. I laughed when the Doctor said to Tyngworg (Banks), “There’s a face only a mother could love!”

I expect this is an adventure that many could love.


Richard McGinlay

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