Big Finish are not the only folks to release Doctor Who audio adventures. This one comes from Audio Go and has the distinction of being read by the Eleventh Doctor himself- Matt Smith.
Now, I’ve made no secret in the past of my opinion of Smith. I honestly think he’s the best Doctor yet.
I’m happy to report that he doesn’t let me down here. It’s fascinating to hear him read this tale, and to hear the subtle change in his voice between the narrator and The Doctor. That, my friends, is acting! Although in the interest of full disclosure, his Scottish accent when he’s reading Amy Pond is… not the best!
As for the story- it’s a pretty good one. We’ve got a brilliant setting- feudal Japan- and an interesting cast of characters in a well written and complex but not overly complicated plot. There are also some lovely character beats in it- the writer clearly understands the Doctor and the dialogue both he and Amy get sounds authentic. This may sound like an obvious thing, but you’d be surprised how hard it is for some writers to get it right.
The only problem is that the Big Secret behind what’s going on is a bit obvious and bordering on a sci-fi cliché. It could be argued, of course, that younger listeners- at which I suspect this is squarely aimed (which is good- it should keep them quiet on a long car journey!) won’t be aware of this, which is fair enough.
Like the Big Finish range, this also manages to convey a nice period atmosphere with use of sound effects and music, and it’s well worth an hour and a bit of your time.
Oh, and another thing... the sleeve notes credit the Doctor Who theme to Murray Gold. Arrangement by, maybe- but the Doctor Who theme was composed by, as we all know, Rob Grainer.