I didn't really expect to like this CD and only bought it because Jacqueline Pearce was in it. Although I've caught various bits of Dr Who over the years, it's never been a major interest of mine and Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred were probably my least favourite doctor and companion pairing.
What can I say, except that I've become a convert.
The writer is Jonathan Blum and he deserves serious credit. This is a man who thinks in terms of audio. The whole story is one that is ideal for the medium and well thought-out use of sound effects enhances this. If he'd written the Blake's 7 radio plays, we might have had something far better than Barry Letts. (I have to add that I've never heard/read anything by Blum before, but I'd certainly consider buying another audio by him.)
Listening to the play a second-time, I could find a few minor nit-picks in the plot, but they're the kind that are carefully designed to lead the audience down the garden path. And I duely trod the path <grin>. The red herrings were very good ones and when I thought I'd outsmarted the writer and twigged what was really going on, I was wrong - and the real explanation was a beauty.
I loved the relationship between the Doctor and Ace - mutual sparks, strong respect, friendship, fast retorts and totally platonic. There were some excellent lines of dialogue, and well-delivered too.
Anyway, I digress. Most of you will be reading this review because you want to know what Jackie was like. I was a little disappointed in one way - I was hoping to hear her in a different type of part (one reason why I enjoy her performance in Soldiers of Love so much), but she's playing a very Servalan-type character. Indeed, the very name, Sherilyn sounds a bit like Servalan. Sherilyn Harper is a politician of an extremist right-wing party. Think of Servalan crossed with Margaret Thatcher and you'll have the character about right. It's a good performance - in her opening speech I was thinking 'Margaret Thatcher' rather than 'Servalan'.
So what's the story actually about? Well, I don't want to give too much of the plot away, but the Fearmonger is a creature that feeds off emotions, specifically fear. It inhabits a human host and uses that host to influence those around it. It creates situations where people feel frightened - hence its interest in Harper and her New Britannia party.
The production standards are great. When there is music it is used to good effect. Sound effects paint a picture without ever overdoing it. The cast were all enjoyable. What more is there to say?
The story is divided into four episodes which works well, but also leads to my only serious complaint on an otherwise excellent product. If you stop at the end of an episode then you don't know which track to go back to next time. There's nothing anywhere on the case or the enclosed booklet to tell you that episode 2 starts on disc 1 track 7 and episode 4 starts on disc 2 track 6.
PS. There's a batch of audio trailers on the end of the second disc. I'm seriously considering buying a Bernice Summerfield story and I've never even read any of the novels with her in...
Last changed on 17th of December 2000
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