In these seven stories of space and time, four different Doctors
bump into Daleks, Thals, invisible Spiridons, Silurians, Sea
Devils, violent Varosians, Sil, the Master, an alien bounty
hunter and some bloodthirsty Neolithic humans...
One of this talking-book anthology was hefty enough at nine
and a half hours, but this one is even longer at a full ten
hours! That's a lot of Who for your money.
off this collection is Jon Pertwee's reading of Terrance Dicks'
novelisation of Terry Nation's script for Planet of the
Daleks. This doesn't work as well as the previous collection's
The Curse of Peladon, because instead of the diverse
voices of the alien delegates, Pertwee has to impersonate
the Daleks, monsters that the actor never even liked! His
nasal vocalisation fails to emulate the creatures' squawking
modulated voices and dissipates their essential menace. He
also mispronounces several names, including Thal (which should
be spoken with a soft "th" sound rather than a hard "t"),
Spiridon (which should be pronounced "spire-a-don" not "spirra-don")
and Latep (which should be "lar-tep" as opposed to "lay-tep").
Nation's story contains plenty of pulpy appeal, including
deadly plants, invisible aliens, ticking bombs, Dalek disguises
and "icecanoes", even if most of these ideas had already been
used in previous Dalek serials.
Peter Davison's reading of Warriors of the Deep, from
Terrance Dicks' novelisation of Johnny Byrne's script, isn't
as enjoyable as the last volume's Kinda, because the
original script isn't nearly as strong. The narrator doesn't
even try to capture the true sound of the Silurians' or Sea
Devils' voices. However, at least we are spared the appalling
visuals that let this story down so badly on TV: the Samurai
Sea Devil costumes, the foam-rubber bulkhead door and the
dreadful pantomime-horse Myrka. And thankfully Davison has
toned down the Aussie twang of his Tegan voice.
Baker has a field day with Vengeance on Varos, conveying
the story's satirical aspects with a splendidly sarcastic
tone of voice. He also imbues the population of Varos with
a rich array of regional accents. The character of Bax stands
out in particular. On TV, the actor Graham Cull possessed
a rather droning voice, but Baker gives Bax a boyish enthusiasm
for his sadistic line of work.
As with Attack of the Cybermen, the Sixth Doctor story
from Volume One, Philip Martin's novelisation of his own script
differs the most from its TV counterpart. In particular, there
are several new scenes towards the end of the story concerning
events that take place outside Varos' protective domes, while
Sil's superior, Lord Kiv, who appeared in The Trial of
a Time Lord, is given a name check here.
talking-book version of the Paul McGann TV movie is even farther
removed from its source material in terms of degrees of separation.
The other readings derived from TV stories are abridged readings
of novelisations of televised serials, but The Novel of
the Film wasn't even based on the script's final draft.
Because of this, the Master takes on a rather different form
at the end of the narrative, while Chang Lee and Grace Holloway
are not killed then brought back to life. The latter difference
is definitely for the better, because the temporal resurrection
that took place on screen was terribly corny and went against
the usual ethos of the series.
my review of Volume One, I commented upon the quality of Peter
Davison's speaking voice. Well, Paul McGann's is even better,
as he demonstrated in the voice-over that opened the TV movie.
He proves it again here in his readings of The Novel of
the Film and Earth and Beyond, the latter of which
is based on short stories from BBC Books' Short Trips
he has since reprised his role as the Eighth Doctor in full-cast
audio dramas from Big Finish, when Earth and Beyond was
originally released on cassette in 1998, many fans, myself
included, relished these stories as an exciting opportunity
to hear McGann giving voice to the character for the first
time in two years. His reading brings to life what are, to
be frank, not the most original or engaging stories ever told:
the aliens' Achilles heel in Peter Anghelides' Bounty
owes too much to Alien Nation, while the plot of Andrew
Miller's Dead Time is unfortunately similar to the
Doctor Who Weekly comic strip Timeslip. However,
there is some unintentional humour as the Bear Men in Paul
Leonard's The People's Temple end up sounding like
As with the previous volume, the readings of the novelisations
are illustrated with photographs from their televisual counterparts.
Now that gives me an idea... How about releasing some MP3-CDs
of soundtracks to partially or wholly missing stories, with
telesnaps to illustrate them? There are several William Hartnell
and Patrick Troughton serials that would be suitable for such
for this volume, I consider it well worth the asking price
for the McGann material alone.
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