The Fifth Doctor Boxset sees the return of Matthew Waterhouse to the character of Adric, something for a long time seemed unlikely to ever happen. The set comprises two full cast stories each of two discs (so just like the main range) plus a disc of extras. This is very much the format of many boxsets at present. Is it worth the investment? Read on (and ware the spoilers)…
Jonathan Morris had the honour of the first story Psychodrome. This is set inside a massive spaceship (of sorts) and takes place immediately following the events of Castrovalva. Exploring they quickly determine that the world is far from normal and is populated by all kinds of caricatures who live in various crashed spaceships, castles or monasteries.
The plot is very easy to see through but provides enough to allow the characters to explore their early relationships in some depth. Rather than focus on Matthew Waterhouse’s return to Adric, Jonathan Morris has Adric as the established figure welcoming a reluctant Tegan on-board the TARDIS. The newly regenerated Fifth Doctor is still coming to terms with his new persona and the whole piece is a tour de force for fans who can try to count the number of references. A fun piece that works well in context.
I must point out the great performances of the other actors including two that were in the Big Finish Survivors release – Camilla Power and Phil Mulryne. It’s good to hear them again (and yes I know they are in other releases).
John Dorney followed this up with Iterations of I a more typical base under siege story set on the mysterious (and haunted) Fleming’s Island off the coast of the Republic of Ireland. This gives Sinead Keenan the chance to use her normal accent in a story of mistrust and bleak weather on a haunted island. The story plays to Adric’s mathematical skills and despite being set in the 1980s is written for a contemporary listener.
I found this the better of the two stories and some of the dialogue was wonderful, as was the sound work by Fool Circle. Nyssa also did a lot more than get possessed and this made a welcome change.
I did watch Earthshock when Adric died and it was powerful in a way the modern programme has lost – think of any number of times River Song throws herself into space knowing the TARDIS will come and save her. I had no real view on Adric as a character and this set has made me consider him as welcome as any other. I need to hear more and I am keen to do so. Big Finish has a way of bringing out the best in many of the series’ performers and I have no doubt they will do so again with Adric.
[pullquote]Adric has his mathematics badge[/pullquote]
A special mention to both Peter Davison (who relished the chance to redo his early Doctor) and Janet Fielding. Janet in particular I have enjoyed in the last few releases and both her performance and the writing are now far beyond the character from the TV series. A lot of this will be down to the production and Ken Bentley’s direction but she gets the badge for me (Adric has his mathematics badge so only Nyssa loses out).
Another success – thoughts?