Over the years, the BBC have produced a number of their own Doctor Who audio adventures. Audio Go have just released them in a box set, and we’ll be reviewing the stories included in the collection individually.
We start with:
The Paradise of Death
Getting the dream team of Pertwee, Courtney and Sladen together must have seemed like a dream come true to Who fans in the dark old days of the 1980s.
And while the three leads work well- no not just well, they work brilliantly- together, this adventure is very much a mixed bag.
The storyline is, especially for a story of this length, a slight one. There is a lot of obvious padding going on with many scenes of characters chatting that do not forward the plot in any way. Practically speaking, and with my editors hat on, I would suggest that this would have been a much better story if they had dropped two episodes. "But they didn't", you may rightly answer, "so what do you know, eh?"
My other problem with this was, surprisingly, Jon Pertwee. For most of the story he sounded rather bored with the proceedings, which is all the more surprising when I read that this was his idea.
And while I’m here- the decision to give Sarah Jane a comedy sidekick is not a good one. The character of Jeremy Fitzoliver is just plain irritating and adds nothing to the proceedings.
There are good things about it though!
The plot itself is a good one, and pretty original too. It is anchored nicely in continuity early on in the first episode and also has a couple of delightful in jokes for the attentive fan/nerd. It is rooted in a strong sci-fi idea and also delivers a powerful message along with the adventuring.
And there is a lot of adventuring going on too. One of the great thing about the audios is that they can have widescreen action scenes that defy television budgets, and this story is no different.
The best thing about this though, and something that is almost with the price in itself, is the performance from Elizabeth Sladen. She is a hell of an actor, and the range she gets to show here impressive.