Doctor Who

Starring: Sylvester McCoy
Big Finish Productions
RRP: 14.99
ISBN 1 84435 136 X
Available 31 March 2005

Hex's first trip in the TARDIS is about as strange as he could have imagined. He, Ace and the Doctor, not to mention some lizard people called the Galyari, find themselves on an asteroid, a city travelling the stars, inhabited by stone ghosts and mythical creatures. People vanish and cross over into the Dreamtime. And at the heart of the city lies Uluru - Ayers Rock...

This is indeed very weird stuff - and confusing. I had to listen to certain bits of it twice to try and get my head around what was going on.

Aboriginal mythology exerts a potent influence upon events in Simon A. Forward's narrative, replacing people with standing stones and hurling the Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) back through time. The Time Lord sees no need to provide a scientific explanation for any of this, though the Galyari have a stab at doing so. This is very much the "magic is real" attitude of the Seventh Doctor's television era, rather than the "magic is just advanced science" doctrine of Jon Pertwee's reign.

This double CD marks the third "appearance" of Forward's reptilian creations, the Galyari, who previously appeared in the Sixth Doctor audio adventure The Sandman and Professor Bernice Summerfield and the Bone of Contention. Steffan Rhodri, who played Commander Korshal in Bone reprises the same role here. However, barring the occasional reference to their culture and their home in the space convoy known as the Clutch, the Galyari could have been substituted by more or less any old aliens.

New companion Hex (Philip Olivier) comes across rather better, sounding suitably impressed and/or terrified by the strange goings-on. He makes a great contrast to the more cynical and battle-hardened Ace (Sophie Aldred), who takes this sort of thing in her stride.

By a staggering coincidence, this CD was released around the same time as the transmission of the Christopher Eccleston episode The End of the World. In both stories, the Earth is about to meet a fiery doom. Coordinator Whitten's (Jef Higgins) comment about certain unfortunate people being left behind on the dying planet seems to clash with the Eccleston Doctor's claims that the Earth has been completely abandoned. However, Forward avoids specific references to precisely which "end of the world" he is dealing with here: Whitten could be referring to the solar flares of The Ark in Space. Alternatively, Dreamtime could be set at a point in time before the National Trust halted the expansion of the sun, as described in The End of the World.

Dreamtime is weird, but not exactly wonderful.

Richard McGinlay

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