THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
NOVELS "THE ULTIMATE
BIG FINISH CD#08
RELEASED IN MAY 2000.
Ares One: NASA's first
manned mission to the
dead planet Mars. But
is Mars as dead as it
While the NASA team
'anomaly' on the
planet's surface, the
Doctor and Peri find
themselves inside a
building. What is its
purpose? And what is
frozen inside the
blocks of ice that
guard the doorways?
If the Doctor has a
sense of deja-vu, it's
because he's about to
meet some old
adversaries, as well
as some new ones...
Justin Richards’ “Red Dawn” came as quite a disappointment. It promised so much with the interesting pairing of the fifth Doctor and Peri and a first contact situation with the Ice Warriors, but sadly the result is just about as dull as Doctor Who can get.
So what went wrong? Firstly, though their voices have been very well done by both Hylton Collins and Matthew Brenher, the Ice Warriors do not ever come across as being any sort of real threat. Richards portrays the Martians very much in line with their appearances during Jon Pertwee’s tenure; they are decent, noble warriors as opposed to marauding menaces.
What is more, the real villain of the piece – Paul Webster (does not have the same ring as ‘Davros’, ‘The Master’ or even ‘Zzarl’ does it?) – is a complete bore, nothing more than a spoilt and unscrupulous brat from a privileged background. But perhaps most damningly, over the course of the four episodes very little happens. Peri gets caught up in a very dull space disaster and the Doctor is forced to play his usual role as peacemaker between the Ice Warriors and the Humans… nothing new, nothing interesting.
On a more positive note, Peter Davison’s daughter, Georgia Moffett, plays a relatively interesting character - Tanya Webster, a human-martian hybrid created by the Webster Corporation. Throughout the play her presence on the NASA mission seems odd to say the least, and the reveal about her true nature (unbeknownst even to her) is just about the only satisfying part of the plot.
I should also say that the first episode of the play is rather good at times - it sees the Doctor and Peri materialise on a freezing cold planet which they will later learn is Mars. This first episode has a wonderful sense of mystery and tension about it but, as I have intimated above, unfortunately things go down hill from there.
Nevertheless, despite the poor story I really enjoyed listening to Peter Davison and Nicola Bryant performing together once again. “The Caves of Androzani” remains one of my favourite television serials, that story of course being the only solo pairing of these two
actors to date. Big Finish have been quite fortunate in both the availability of certain companions and the convenient gaps in continuity that naturally arise from within the television series. Tegan behind left behind at the end of “Time-Flight”, the huge chunk of the Doctor’s life that we missed out on thanks to the events of “The Trial of a Time Lord”, and the fifth Doctor and Peri arriving on Androzani, with no mention of it being her first trip in the TARDIS with him have all been real strokes of good luck for Big Finish.
And so although Richards’ script is a let-down, Davison and Bryant show a lot of promise here, and providing that you are able to suspend your disbelief that Peri travels around with the Doctor for a long time between “Planet of Fire” and “The Caves of Androzani”, wearing the same skimpy outfit all the while, then I am sure that things can only get better for this partnership…
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
This audio drama’s blurb suggests that it takes place between the television serials Planet of Fire and The Caves of Androzani. As Peri still appears to be wearing her original outfit here, we have elected to place this story between the novels The Ultimate Treasure and Superior Beings, which were released either side of it. We cannot really place it any earlier as The Ultimate Treasure explicitly takes place within just a few days
of Planet of Fire.
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