If you’ve read the reactions I’ve posted recently, you know I’ve been enjoying audio only versions of the lost episodes on CD. You also know that it won’t be just too long before the fourth set becomes available. You should know, too, that I couldn’t wait even that long and have begun to listen to the Doctor Who BBC radio episodes. These have the advantage over the lost episodes in that they were written and directed specifically for radio, so no “linking narration” is necessary and all stage direction and visual description is included in the script. Before I get to the actual radio dramas, though, there are a few odds and ends included in the set I’d like to deal with and get out of the way first.
EXPLORATION EARTH: First up is “The Time Machine”, the third in the BBC schools Exploration Earth radio series exploring the geography of our planet. According to the liner notes, “The overriding educational brief meant that the key elements of Doctor Who were being used as tools with which to demonstrate the creation of Earth and so, with studio time at a premium and minimal rehearsals allocated, the cast were allowed little input into the script or their characterizations.
“The episode was broadcast on 4 October 1976, two days after Episode One of ‘The Hand of Fear’ was transmitted on BBC1. With teachers encouraged to utilize such programmes as part of their lessons, it provided a unique opportunity for Ron grainer’s familiarly eerie theme to echo around school corridors.” Even if the liner notes hadn’t’ve pointed it out, it would have been obvious this story was intended for educational purposes. That’s not to say it wasn’t entertaining, and even fitting that this broadcast returns Doctor Who it its earliest roots.
The story features Tom Baker and Elisabeth Slade, and took only half a day to record. A malfunction in the “chronometric astrometer” throws the TARDIS back 4,500,000,000 million years where the doctor and Sarah Jane Smith witness the formation of the Earth. (Oddly, the Racnoss ship was nowhere to be seen, but I figure even a slight variance in time travel duration could result in several million years’ worth of wiggle room.) While there (and then) they meet Megron, a High Lord of Chaos, who claims the Earth as his own. The Doctor disputes the claim, arguing that the seeming chaos is actually the beginning of a process that will ultimately bring order.
Over the course of the next twenty minutes, the Doctor uses his “compressive telesight” to witness and explain the various stages of Earth’s development. Eventually the Doctor has to resort to “telepathic will deployment” to defeat Meglos, and he and Sarah step out of the TARDIS onto present day Earth.
NEXT: “Whatever Happened to… Susan?”
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO… SUSAN?: This audio can also be found on “The Dalek Invasion of Earth” DVD. It’s a humorous little fluff piece presented as an exposé documentary. “The Dalek Invasion of Earth” was among the very first episodes I saw, and consequently I missed a lot of the jokes the first time through. It’s no substitute for the recent trilogy of Eighth Doctor and Susan audio adventures, but is entertaining enough in a tongue-in-cheek way.
What I didn’t know is that this program was the fifth in a series of six “Whatever Happened to…?” shows, other subjects including Popeye, Little Lord Fauntleroy and the Seven Dwarves. Susan is played by Jane Asher (Paul McCartney’s former long-time girlfriend) rather than Carol Ann Ford. Similarly, former companions Ian Chesterton, Barbara Wright and Jo Grant were all portrayed by different actors. I accept it as a spoof, but even I spotted some continuity errors.
I listened to that not long ago. It was mildly amusing.
I guess there is no way I can listen to any of this online? And I don't mean samples to entice me to buy the CDs.
I found a hardbound edition of some of the 8th Doctor's radio scripts that BBC Books released at a flea market and have always been curious about what I'm missing.
Are there audio adventures of ALL the Doctors? Or did this start from a certain point, which might prevent the involvement of the earlier ones?
I’m sorry, Lee… I could be wrong, but these aren’t available online as far as I know. :(
DOCTOR WHO AND THE PESCATONS: This being originally a 1976 LP release my expectations weren’t terribly high. Still, I was a little disappointed to discover that the story is, say, 75% narration, especially considering that the witty repartee between Elisabeth Sladen and Tom Baker in their scenes together is really the highlight of the story. The sound effects (particularly the roar of the monster) are particularly well done. The LP was recorded shortly after the TV series’ 13th season and the story takes place between “The Seeds of Doom” and “The Masque of Mandragora.”
My favorite Big Finish audio adventure is “Peri and the Piscon Paradox” (which I listened to a second time recently while driving to Austin for Thanksgiving; it’s still my favorite), and in it, the Doctor makes a point of differentiating between the Piscons and the Pescatons. I guess this is why. According to the liner notes, “Doctor Who and the Pescatons” has been re-released several times over the years on vinyl, cassette and CD. Have any of you guys ever heard it?
Okay, that gets all of the “odds and ends” out of the way. I’m looking forward to listening to the actual radio adventures. Depending on how much I have to say about them, I may either continue posting to this thread or break them off into “reactions” of their own, but here’s what’s coming:
“The Paradise of Death” – 3rd Doctor & Sarah Jane Smith – 5 episodes
“The Ghosts of N-Space” – 3rd Doctor & Sarah Jane Smith – 6 episodes
“Slipback” – 6th Doctor & Peri – 6 episodes
I think I have a novelization of "Pescatons" somewhere, but I've never actually heard it.
I borrowed the LP from my library way back when. My recollection is it had the feel I wanted for a Doctor Who adventure, with the right kind of twist solution. The Doctor was less superhero-y than he was on TV - I remember that bit where he's going down a tunnel underwater and gets frightened. The comedy bit with the baby was out of place but was funny.
The story was novelised by the record's writer, Victor Pemberton, who also wrote the Troughton adventure Fury from the Deep. The look I had at the book when it came out suggested he'd added extra stuff to it.
I'd say your memories are fairly accurate, Luke.
I just want to clarify that when I estimated the LP was 75% narration, it is Tom Baker's own narration (as if the Doctor is reading from his "500 year Diary"). There's also a flashback on (what would have been) side two of the LP. It's really not bad for a two-part adventure; I just would have preferred more scenes of Baker and Sladen playing off each other.
THE PARADISE OF DEATH:
When a horrific and inexplicable death occurs at Space World, a new theme park on Hampstead Heath, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and UNIT are called in to investigate. The Doctor is highly suspicious. Just who controls the Parakon Corporation, the shadowy organization behind the running of the park? What is “Experience Reality”? And what are the limits of its awesome powers?
From the liner notes: “It was Jon Pertwee who first approached the BBC with the idea of making a new radio adventure for the Third Doctor. He had been working with producer Dirk Maggs of the Superman radio adventures and felt that dirk would be ideal for a Who story. Unfortunately, by the time the idea had passed through various editorial channels and been accepted, Maggs was already tied upwith another project.
“The Who idea was then passed onto another producer in the Light Entertainment department, who made little progress with it. Enter Phil Clarke, a BBC radio L.E. producer and Doctor Who fan. Excited by the possibility of a new adventure, especially since nobody else in the BBC was doing anything with the show, he immediately went back to Jon Pertwee to check that he was still keen to go ahead. It was two years sonce Pertwee had made his original suggestion, but he remained enthusiastic. For Clarke, working with Pertwee was ideal. ‘Jon Pertwee is my Doctor, if you like,’ he said in an interview with Gary Russell for Doctor Who magazine in September 1993. ‘Being thirty-two he’s my childhood hero and to also have Sarah Jane and the Brigadier, what more could I want?’ Both Lis Sladen and Nicholas Courtney said yes straight away when approached, and so the classic team was reunited.
“As far as the script was concened, Phil Clarke went straight to Barry Letts. He was familiar with Jon Pertwee’s character as the Doctor and so would know how to write for him. Originally two stories were written over ten episodes, which were then cut down to six, and finally five. With the scripts in place, the rest of the casting took place. Barry Letts had written the character of Freeth specifically for Harold Innocent. He also had in mind Peter Miles (Nyder in Genesis of the Daleks) to play Tragen.
“A new companion of sorts was created with the character of Jeremy Fitzoliver, Sarah Jane’s hopeless photographer. His constant tripping over and making a mess of things provided a riposte to all the dizzy female assistants of the past. A second character with the potential to reappear was Onya, leader of the rebel aliens, who was played by Jane Slavin.
The Paradise of Death is a classic Who adventure — although, as many fans have poited out, its timeline is a bit suspect. It is set on the Doctor’s return to the present after The Time Warrior and before Invasion of the Dinosaurs (the first and second adventures in Pertwee’s final television series). The plotline for those two stories indicates that there was no gap at all between one ending and the next beginning, so how could another adventure have taken place in between the two? Well, he is a Timelord!”
Regarding that last bit, a line of dialogue indicates that “The Paradise of Death” takes place sometime after “The Time Warrior,” but not necessarily immediately after (only that Sarah Jane has had only one trip in the TARDIS). The new character, Sarah Jane’s photographer Jeremy, is pretty annoying, a Jimmy Olsen-type. He even says, “Wow, zowie!” at one point. Other than that, “The Paradise of Death” pretty much lives up to my expectations. It’s very much written for radio, but not obviously written for radio (if you know what I mean), and Berry Letts throws in lots of little “Easter eggs” for fans of the Pertwee era (a Venusian lullaby, for example, and the Doctor explains what “reverse the polarity of the neutron flow” actually means).
The plot centers around a kind of virtual reality theme park in which the realities are actually others’ experiences implanted directly in the users’ brains. This makes them very susceptible to suggestion, and the real threat arrives when it is discovers the plot to turn people into slaves to grow a kind of crop which would leave the Earth’s surface ruined in the process of harvesting it. Pertwee himself sounds a bit long in the tooth, but other than that it’s easy for one to imagine “The Paradise of Death” as a lost episode of Pertwee’s final season.
Another one I've never heard, but which I believe I have a novelization of.
Or maybe I do now, eh? I was sorting through “my” collection the other day, looking for the original “Peladon” novel you mentioned, when I came across the novelization of the BBC radio “The Ghosts of N-Space,” which is next on my list and I started listening to this morning.
No, I checked - I still have my copy of "Paradise of Death". You must of found it somewhere.
Oh, holding out on me, eh?
I don't have "Paradise of Death"; I was just speculating that I might.