Shadow of Death reviewed

February’s Destiny of the Doctor was Shadow of DeathSecond Doctor tale performed by Frazer Hines as Jamie supported by Evie Dawnay as Sophie. Written by Simon Guerrier this story has to keep up the decent standard reached by Hunters of Earth, build the arc a little and be a good story in its own right.

How well does it manage? Read on, spoilers at the ready!

The Story

The synopsis from the Big Finish product page is:

Following an emergency landing, the TARDIS arrives on a remote world orbiting a peculiar star – a pulsar which exerts an enormous gravitational force, strong enough to warp time.

On further exploration the Doctor and his friends, Jamie and Zoe, discover a human outpost on the planet surface, inhabited by scientists who are there to study an ancient city. The city is apparently abandoned, but the scientists are at a loss to explain what happened to its sophisticated alien architects.

The Doctor discovers that something dark, silent and deadly is also present on the world – and it is slowly closing in on the human intruders…

The TARDIS is knocked off course to a research station on a planet orbiting a pulsar. The planet is of archaeological interest as it has a mysteriously abandoned alien city on visible on the horizon. The base is insulated from the environment and the TARDIS crew of The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe soon realise that time flows slowly outside; what they took for statues are in fact crew members moving in super-slow motion!

The base is under attack and inevitably our heroes are taken as being responsible and they meet up with Sophie a gun wielding scientist. The Doctor quickly wins her trust as he rescues Jamie and another crewman from a strange shadow that ages anyone it touches. The base is under attack and must be evacuated but someone must stay on board to let the others out. The Doctor volunteers and plans to escape by using the TARDIS Hostile Action Displacement System (HADS) that much used device from early TV shows.

In one version of history (in my head only) this plan works bit the base is abandoned and the research lost. Deep in the future the Eleventh Doctor sends back some psychic paper to tell the Second Doctor to stay and rescue the research. In doing so he is touched by the shadow but is not destroyed (oddly enough). He learns that the shadows are the natives now transformed to energy, repairs the base and brokers peace between the parties. Alls well that ends well.

The Production

Great atmospheric sound and Frazer managed to be the narrator, Jamie and The Doctor in many scenes and was faultless (he even got to be the alien as well). Evie Dawnay’s Sophie added some contrast and this felt like a good range of voices.

The story obviously focussed on Jamie and The Doctor given Frazer’s ability to do Troughton’s voice so well. Zoe still got a few things to do and the sequence with the Eleventh Doctor also worked.

This certainly felt like a step up from Hunters of Earth.

Overall

This definitely ticked every box for me, the story was a base under seige in an imaginative setting and linked to the arc without working up any of the motifs from episode 1 – I had wondered if the mysterious organisation that featured in Hunters of Earth would feature but was happy with how this went. Simon Guerrier to my mind took a good Companion Chronicle and added in the extra scene required without spoiling anything.

For me this is one of the gems of the years so far even though I know it is only February. What did you think? If you’re curious, this is what Chair With a Panda’s Aidan Brack thought.

 

Tony February 2013

2 thoughts on “Shadow of Death reviewed

  1. I’m still organizing my thoughts about this (and may listen again tonight) but I enjoyed this enormously on first listen. I did wonder about the psychic paper incident and came up with a similar explanation to yours. The incident also had me wondering whether the woman’s voice Susan heard in the first of these stories actually belongs to Clara/Oswin!

    As usual huge thumbs up for Frazer Hines’ reading – the first two releases have set a high standard and I look forward to finding out who will be recording the others.

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  2. I look forward to your own review. I am sure that the 11th Doctor will dip into all the stories – this allows it all to make sense in the last story. I also read a hint on the BF Forum as well.

    Very pleased with this investment and this was a good step up from a decent first story and sets a standard for the rest. Next month Mike Yates!

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