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Doctor Who: Eldrad Must Die! (April 2013) Review

Big Finish April 2013 Release
Doctor Who Main Range 172.

Eldrad Must Die!

Cast: Peter Davison (The
Doctor), Janet Fielding (Tegan),
Mark Strickson (Turlough),
Sarah Sutton (Nyssa),
Stephen Thorne (Eldrad),
Nancy Carroll (Mulkris),
Pip Torrens (Charlie
Gibbs), Jessica Claire (Kate
Sherrin), Brian Protheroe (Bob
Gell), Mark Field (Jim)

Written By: Marc Platt
Directed By: Ken Bentley

Reviewed by Graeme Bentzen for The Gallifrey Times

This review may contain spoilers.
I really wish at this
point that this wasn’t my first Big Finish review for The Gallifrey
Times, as this review will probably make me seem like a grumpy old
bugger. However, a review is needed and honesty is the best policy
after all, so here goes….

“A Doctor, curse his name, threw me down among the dead… but I endure. I am Eldrad… and I must live!”

Both the opening lines
resonating from the title’s chief protagonist and on the premise that
Eldrad was of course the silicon/crystal
based naughtiness from the ‘Hand Of Fear’, I was rather excited when
this finally landed on my desk and was deep listening in to the first
three minutes.
Unfortunately, my
optimism was slowly diminished, as part one began to feel rather
awkward. As a seasoned listener to the main
range of Big Finish adventures, you can tell when the actors playing
those lovable characters from the TV adventures of old are having a
bit of a hard time getting to terms with the sound booth environment
and interacting with each other. The first two parts of this
adventure I have to say, were sadly, perfect examples of when this
happens. Don’t get me wrong, Davison, Strickson, Fielding and Sutton
are fine examples of seasoned pro’s when it comes to Doctor Who and
related content, in fact it’s very hard to find fault with any one of
their performances. It just didn’t gel together at all and perhaps
down to the writing of Platt and direction of Bentley, there were
instances unlike the vast majority of Big Finish audio’s, when I
thought: “Their all in the booth reading of a script, not ‘out there’
experiencing every point, twist and turn the narrative presents”.
On listening, the jaunt along the beach may become apparent as the
perfect example to accompany my thoughts.
It was a nice enough
build up in terms of setting the scene for the adventure, the dead
animals on the beach, the shifty ‘Gibbs’ obviously delivering some
shifty dialogue to set up his ‘Eldrads little helper’ role and the
TARDIS, disappearing beneath the sands, adding to the feeling that The
Doctor will need to use his head as well as his hardware to get out of
this one. Overall though, the production and writing was poor, but
things can surely only get better?
That was the first two
parts of ‘Eldrad Must Die!’. Parts three and four really were a
marked improvement on the previous . After part’s one and two had
brought the ‘infection’ of Turlough via the slightly corny sounding
Gibbs and the acquisition of ‘the watcher’ the adventure starts to
gather momentum and by the end of the first half of this adventure,
‘Old Jim’ with the slightly piratey/arrr! accent had been infected
along with the entire village and the ice breaker’s crew, things from
here on in, start to get going nicely. We encounter Mulkris, voiced
by Nancy Carroll, who I must admit was a shining light in this
episode, her dialogue was beautifully projected and vibrant, a close
second to Peter Davison, who as always in Big Finish audios was
second to non by the time the adventure had concluded.
And so to the third and
fourth parts, what a difference a quick theme tune makes. A different
story entirely. The exchanges between Turlough, Gibbs, The Doctor and
Mulkris were superb. Albeit, the phrases Eldrad must live/die
(depending on your persuasion) that were maybe a little repetitive at
times, ‘Eldrad Must Die!’ reached a great climax, with the battle
between Eldrad’s consciousness and the greater good reaching an
exciting finale back on Kastria, Gibbs the archetypal power monger
didn’t fair too well in his efforts to encompass the power of Eldrad.
A pointedly phrased
line from Mulkris to the still slightly confused Turlough “There
will be many more Eldrads” leaves me to suspect that it may not
quiet be the end for the Silicon based crystal loving maniac, however
in some ways I hope ‘Eldrad Must Die!’ was in fact the final act for
him/her, based on the 50/50 results from this adventure. I can’t
really see much left to explore. With different writing though, you
never know.
Overall, to use the old
football pun, this adventure was a game of two halves. The first and
second parts felt awkward, under produced and in some parts even
bordered on irritating, simply on the fact that the talents and
abilities of the actors had been so poorly utilized.
The third and fourth felt like they’d changed the entire writing and
production team, with the characters interacting well and it feeling
like a good old fifth Doctor romp, Teegan, Nyssa and Turlough all
along for the ride too!
If I was allowed to
score individual parts then the score for 3 and 4 would be at least a
9. Unfortunately, the slow start brings it down.
The Gallifrey Times Rating: 7/10
Many thanks to Big Finish Productions for providing the audio for review.
Picture courtesy of Big Finish.