I went searching for a Doctor Who story narrated by the actor who played the ninth incarnation, Christopher Eccleston (to put alongside my David Tennant and Matt Smith stories). The narrator, Nicholas Briggs, was just as good, if not better.
Don't get me wrong, at first, his Doctor voice sounded a bit like Bullwinkle with a northern British accent. But either it got better, or my ears got adjusted. In any event, I was fully into this story because Mr. Briggs (voice of the Daleks and Cybermen, and head of the fabulous Big Finish line of audio productions) simply has a wide range of vocal talent. While the story was entertaining and had a number of good twists, the real enjoyment in listening was hearing it come alive through the many voices of Nicholas Briggs.
It has time travel. It has some of the back story of the Doctor and The Master. It has some of the most memorable characters from the T.V. series. It has a cosmic, sweeping story that plays a wonderful movie in the imagination. The best of all, though, is narrator Geoffrey Beavers and his superlative performance. He goes very easily from Scottish brogue to one of the best imitations of Roger Delgado that I have ever heard. Easily one of the best Doctor Who audibles you are likely to find.
Nicholas Briggs gets the voices perfect. Fans of the current incarnation of the T.V. show will not be disappointed in the performance. I've read and heard better stories. The high point is that the author gets all the regular characters just right. The folks that are introduced as the story goes on were not consistent. For instance, it was hard to believe what motivated the two groups who are vying for power at the end.
No, I don't mean communicating with spirits and all that rubish! I mean that sometimes the special effects of the day could not capture the best imagination of the scripts of these Third Doctor/ U.N.I.T. stories. A full cast radio production may be a much better medium. Jon Pertwee was especially delicious in this story - he was always at his best when confronting authority figures, and there were plenty to confront, here. I also liked how the sound effects hearkened back to the days of the first lunar expedition. Fans of the current Eleventh Doctor series on BBC that began with "The Impossible Astoronaut" may find some delight here. Just be warned that the pace of the action is a bit slower than a fan of the current T.V. series is used to. Nonetheless, this lifelong Doctor Who fan found many things to enjoy in this audio.
The full cast production of the Oz stories was an amazing find! There are five in this series, and all of them are wonderfully performed. It was thoroughly entertaining for my two children and I as we listened in the car.
I simply cannot believe that such a spot-on production would only be about $3 to Audible members. For about the price of a novel, one can get the whole series and enjoy hours of entertainment with the kids.
This was not as tight a narrative as the Chocolate Factory, but there was enough charm, silliness, and familiarity with the characters to entertain our family (with children ages 6 and 8) through a long car ride.
Narrator Eric Idle was very funny and really threw himself into all the different voices - including a very convincing President of the United States.
The first helping of Charlie was clearly the best. This second helping was... not so bad.
You first need to know this comes from someone who has followed the Doctor's adventures from the Seventies until today. I especially enjoy the narrator, Nicholas Briggs, as producer of a whole line of audio adventures made and distributed by Big Finish Productions. I may have been a bit predisposed to like this, but I still was amazed at what a find this particular story is.
For me, it was like getting an extra episode of the T.V. series. The story was brilliant. Even though you know the characters are going to make it out, there were at least two... maybe three times when you could have believed they may not. The plot twist that has the Doctor going backward through time was amazingly well done and must have been a very complicated thing to write. The personalities of the characters were all in place. One little gem has the Doctor acquiring a new toy with a "Happy Christmas, me!", which one could totally hear Matt Smith's character saying.
Nicholas Briggs is simply jaw dropping. I cannot fathom how he goes seamlessly from the Doctor to Amy's Scottish accent to the other Americans. It was an inspired performance that married itself to this incredible story to produce a five star wonder that I hope Doctor Who fans will enjoy as much as I did.
The story sets up, beautifully. And for Doctor Who books, it simply does not get better than having one of the actors who play the good Doctor as the narrator. David Tennant is simply... brilliant. Full disclosure: I am a long time fan of Doctor Who in all its incarnations.
The only thing that I did not like in the story was a bit of Deus Ex Machina toward the end. The plot revolves around a... well, I better not spoil it. As much as the "bad guy" reveal made me wince, it did not completely take away my enjoyment of the story. The very strong character building throughout made up for the things that aggravated me.
If you listen to the end, there is an interview with the author that gives quite a lot of insight into the process of converting a book set in a popular television series into an audio book.
This story was quite a value for a free download. It was not a fast, one hour "to be continued" sort of thing (which I was expecting). The narrator was quite versatile with her characterizations of the different races who populate this fantasy/sci-fi world. And, I was surprised that the plot and characters were complex, but not so complex that you would get lost in endless descriptions. It was a story one could easily follow with characters that provoked some emotion. The final surprise was that it was a complete story. It does lead into the series and fortunately, it was written well enough that it left this listener thinking about hearing more. That said, I don't think it was so excellent that I would instantly put it at the top of my priority list. But, overall, I was very grateful for the amount of entertainment this story provided for free.
An IPod and a portable speaker were all I needed to entertain my two girls, ages 6 & 8, for the last leg of our Thanksgiving Day road trip. They were both familiar with the story after seeing both movie versions, but Eric Idle made it come alive in their imaginations. Mr. Idle also entertained the two parents in the car, as well, with many "laugh out loud" moments as he narrated. Listening to this story as a family was a welcome change from the DVD player (which the driver cannot see) and the personal devices (which are good for a quiet vehicle). This was something we could all enjoy together.
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