Thursday, July 5, 2012

Red Dawn

This story features Peri with the 5th Doctor. As it turns out, in future releases there will be quite a lot of Peri and the 5th Doctor in Big Finish, which stretches belief a bit, since in "Caves of Androzani", Peri is wearing the same outfit as her debut story "Planet of Fire". Oh well. Big Finish is quite right to not let John Nathan-Turner's obsession with making the regulars wear a costume get in the way of an entertaining Doctor/Companion pairing. The other selling point of this story, is that it features the Ice Warriors.

I've never read many of the original Doctor Who novels, so I have no idea how the book range expanded the history of the Ice Warriors prior to this release. I think Big Finish generally sticks to TV continuity as a rule, and picks and chooses which book continuity to acknowledge. In any event, the Ice Warriors end up basically being "good guys" (albeit, trigger happy, violent ones) in this story. The first time I heard this story, it seemed like the Ice Warriors were being characterized a lot like Klingons. There's a whole lot of "honorable warrior" dogma thrown about, which I never really remember hearing about back in the TV series. It was a bit jarring and inconsistent with my memories of the Ice Warriors. The voices are done well, with the rank and file warriors whispering menacingly, and Lord Zzaal rasping in a low tone: both consistent with the TV series, but always audible and comprehensible.

The story involves a Mars probe that inadvertently (or not) disturbs an Ice Warrior burial tomb. As noted before, the Ice Warriors are basically good guys (although they do kind of act like jerks at times), and the villains are among the humans on the probe. The villain's plot seems a bit half baked, and the character turn near the end of the story for Tanya (played by a teenaged Georiga Moffat, who is Peter Davison's daughter, would go on to play Jenny (The "Doctor's Daughter") alongside the Tenth Doctor, and then actually marry David Tenant. I won't get into all the confusing relationship links this starts up....) is uninteresting. In fact, that's the basic problem with the story. It just doesn't feel like a whole lot happens. The villain keeps pissing off the Ice Warriors who come close to blowing up the humans but keep getting talked down by the Doctor. Peri spends most of the story trapped on the probe with the villain. There's also a lot of boring "NASA talk" involving the landing of the human ship, that just takes up time and isn't very interesting. I suppose they were going for realism, but it just brings the plot to a halt, and doesn't add the tension (during ship trouble) that they were probably going for.

All that said, the Doctor's interaction with Lord Zzaal is somewhat enjoyable, and while it was poorly received after its release, I don't think it's awful or anything. Certainly worse things from Big Finish were to come (thankfully not right away). Still that's damning it with faint praise for sure. Better things would come from Big Finish later for both the Ice Warriors and the 5th Doctor/Peri team.

Rating: OK

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