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Embrace the Darkness

Doctor Who: The Big Finish Audio Adventures #31
Eddy Wolverson

The idea behind this story was certainly inspired; if telling a story through the audio medium, why not make it’s primary setting complete darkness? However, after the brilliance of “The Chimes of Midnight” and “Seasons of Fear”, Nicholas Briggs certainly had his work cut out with “Embrace the Darkness” and bar a few moments of excellence Briggs’ adventure is quite a mediocre one.

The main story is one of survival with a small cast of characters, each compelling in their own way. The whole plot revolves around misunderstanding, making assumptions, judging by appearances, and in the Doctor’s case, “..interfering.” It seems that by his eighth incarnation the Doctor is becoming self-conscious about his meddling, though I think that is the direct result of his rescuing Charley from the R101 and his conversation in the previous story with the mysterious third party. I was disappointed in that the whole ‘Charley’ storyline wasn’t advanced considerably here, although at the beginning the Doctor does detect a large group of TARDISes in the time vortex, which is very unusual, perhaps a sign of some oncoming danger. The relationship between the Doctor and Charley is advanced quite a bit though, which is at least equally important – she becomes infuriated with him at one point, accusing him of wanting to die just to appease his conscience with no thought of what would happen to her. Moreover, she begins to realise that travelling with the Doctor, wherever and whenever they end up, has become ‘home’ to her.

Something that impressed me about this story was the sheer horror of it – for example, the humans have their eyes burned out by the Cimmerians. The ‘R.O.S.M.’ android, in ruthlessly applying it’s company orders and sheer logic, was also a frightening adversary at times, none more so than in part one where it identifies Charley as having ‘malignant cells’ or something along those lines and attempts to destroy her. However, a lot of the story’s more frightening moments came through the bitter human leader, Orllensa, and her struggle to come to terms with the traumatic removal of her eyes. Unfortunately, much of the horror is undone with the story’s light-hearted, almost happy ending. “Embrace the Darkness” leaves one with the feeling they’ve just heard a nursery rhyme and ‘the moral of the story is…’ and I guess that might not have happened had the ending been darker.

All things considered, “Embrace the Darkness” is an innovative and interesting Doctor Who audio adventure, though the only eighth Doctor audio I’d say it’s better than (so far) is “The Stones of Venice.” It’s certainly not bad, but unlike the previous story, “Seasons of Fear,” it’s not the sort of play I would listen to over and over again unless, as I occasionally do, I am religiously forcing myself to watch / read / listen to a particular Doctor’s era in order, clangers like “Creature From The Pit,” “Paradise Towers,” “Underworld” et al. all included!

Richard Radcliffe

For quite a while now the sight on the doormat, after a long day at work, of a Big Finish Envelope, has been one of the things I really look forward to every month. The sight is even more exciting with the 8th Doctor audios. This really is NEW Who, and the stories are moving chronologically from one to another, rewarding the ongoing listener. Embrace the Darkness is the 4th Story of McGanns 2nd Season as the Doctor. Big Finish built on the success of the previous 4-story Season, and extended the involvement of their trump card (Paul McGann) into a 6-story Season. When this story finished I was glad we were going to get 2 more 8th Doctor stories for the season.

When I looked over the schedule of releases for 2002, and the 6 McGann ones jumped out at me, this was the one that I was least sure of. The others all had a hook:- Mark Gatiss, Rob Shearman, Paul Cornell, Daleks, Romana 2 respectively - but there was no such hook with this. Since Big Finish have admitted that this is a little different from the rest of the season. This stands on its own more than any of the others. I also knew less about this than the others - which is quite a nice thing every now and again.

What I find interesting about these productions is how they are put together. McGann recorded his parts earlier than the rest, for the most part, I believe (I may be wrong in this, but the absence of McGann on the cast pictures in the CD booklet seems to indicate so). You can't tell this in the story itself, the 8th Doctor has the lions part in every one, and the other characters interact with him well. The skill with which Alistair Lock and his Big Finish Production staff put these things together is therefore even more outstanding.

Embrace the Darkness is another story from Audio expert - Nicholas Briggs. It's a story that is magnificently suited to the audio medium. As the author says in his introduction (aren't these fascinating!), and in the DWM Preview (these are even better!) Darkness means you can't see anything anyway - therefore hearing is even more amplified. He's got a good point, and the sheer logic of that idea, seems to have inspired him to produce his best work yet for Big Finish.

Setting the story in the Cimmerian System, this is a story that is welcome change from Earth-based stories. Earth stories happen to be my favourite, but I acknowledge that too many of them reduces the impact of them. A trip to the stars is therefore what we get here. When the TARDIS lands on a vast spaceship apparently habited only by huge Robots, ROSM, Big Finish get a chance to pull out all their unusual space and large constructs sound effects. When the action moves to the Very Dark Cimmerian IV base this is even more apparent.

Rarely have I heard such impressive futuristic sound effects. Lifepods docking at the Space Station, huge great doors inching there way shut, 20 feet high Robots parading round the corridors, blasting hazards out the way. Nick Briggs may be right about the Darkness and how everything is Audio, but the images gleaned from this production are magnificent - and that is totally down to the extra special Sound Effects.

The story is an isolated base one. Like much of Season 5 this allows for plenty of surreptitious glancing over the shoulder, as the monster threatens to suddenly appear. But much of this story is set in the pitch Black, the threat could be right there next to you, and you wouldn't even notice. If you put the CD on, with the lights off, you really can transport yourself to the Cimmerian IV base. This results in more atmosphere for sure, but it also brings its fair amount of shocks and shivers up the spine. There are a number of reasons why this ranks amongst the scariest DWs that anyone has produced in any medium.

One main reason is the whispering Cimmerians. They seem to float around the ship hissing their threats. Another reason is the sedate pace that the script employs. There are moments where the action literally stops, the darkness envelops you, and you tense up waiting for the oncoming shock. The quiet blackness is truly terrifying at times. Another is the gory images created by the script. I wear glasses, therefore anything to do with an attack on the eyes horrifies me. Nothing terrifies me more than losing my sight, yet that is precisely what happens to some of the people here.

The cast is small, but effective. Paul McGann is excellent once again as the Doctor. Charley is brilliant too, and it is so refreshing to not know what is round the corner for a major character. The base crew succeed in convincing us they have been together for many years. Orllensa's accent is a bit peculiar, but that is the only dubious point in a fine supporting cast. The Robot, ROSM, is great too. The amount of different voice modulations that Big Finish now must number in the hundreds, and this is another memorable voice amongst many.

I listened to it in 3 segments. The first 2 episodes together, then the 3rd and 4th on separate occasions. This allows the full impact of the production to weave its magic on you. The slow pace is not a problem at all - allowing the tension to build and the threat to grow. This is a fine season of 8th Doctor stories that Big Finish are giving us - I already am looking forward to the next. 9/10

Paul Clarke

The first time I heard ‘Embrace the Darkness’ I didn’t like it. Despite a promising set-up and some great characters, I found the twist anticlimactic and felt disappointed by the end of the story, as though I’d just listened to a wasted opportunity. Having revisited it however, I’ve utterly changed my mind; writer and director Nicholas Briggs crafts an intriguing story that subverts audience expectations in admirable ways, and is one of the season’s more thoughtful inclusions.

Initially, ‘Embrace the Darkness’ is misleadingly set up to be a horror story. An isolated human outpost beset by some mysterious attackers is classic, well-worn stuff, largely because it is so reliable. From the moment the base is plunged into darkness, Episode One is deeply sinister, in large part due to an excellent cast that gets the best out of Briggs’ script. Lines such as “We’re losing light”, “I felt something touch my arm” and “There’s something in here with us!” all create a claustrophobic air of terror, and the cast members impressively sound genuinely frightened as they deliver their dialogue. At the dramatic apex of this scene, a chilling voice hisses, “Embrace the darkness” and the screaming begins, resulting in a striking and disturbing beginning. This is swiftly followed up on as the Doctor tells the legend of the Cimmerian system and the mysterious disappearance of its star, providing an ominous mythical background that has the feel of a dark fairytale. By the end of the episode, events become even more horrific, as Orliensa asks the newly arrived Charley, “They took away the light – how can you see us?” prompting her to quietly respond, “You don’t know, do you? Your eyes… You’ve lost your eyes”. There is a sudden deathly silence for the last few seconds of the episode as this news is digested, which is highly effective.

Throughout Episodes One to Three, Briggs’ script conveys the sheer terror and panic that must surely accompany being suddenly blinded. Orliensa dully asks, “Have you ever felt anything so terrible?” and whilst Orliensa surrenders to bitterness, and Ferras makes a futile attempt at optimism, Haliard descends into madness. These scenes are punctuated by the Cimmerians discussing the humans, quietly hissing, “They have brought light. We must take it again” and “Embrace the darkness or die!” They sound especially creepy in Episode Two as they ask Charley, “What are eyes?” and by the end of the episode, with even the seemingly indestructible ROSM falling victim to the Cimmerian particles, things have become so desperate that the Doctor morbidly warns, “We may have solved the mystery of the Cimmerian System Charley, but it very much looks as though that information is going to die with us.”

But ‘Embrace the Darkness’ is a deeply impressive exercise in audience misdirection. What Briggs has actually written is a story about tragic misunderstandings between different cultures, and the way in which a failure to communicate leads to unnecessary suffering for all concerned. During Episode Three, a Cimmerian repairs Orliensa’s eyes, and it becomes clear that all is not as it seems. We finally start to learn the truth when the Doctor succeeds in shedding some light on the aliens’ motivations, and the Cimmerians bleakly announce, “They will come now… Solarians… They will see the light, destroy us all.” The revelation that the Cimmerians are seeking to not to hurt the humans but to protect themselves from an ancient alien threat changes the direction of the piece, and Briggs scores well with his handling of the Cimmerians, which make for an interesting alien race. They have a moral code (they are compelled to heal even at the cost of their own lives), and they have molecular abilities that allow them to move through walls, inactivate ROSM, and regenerate tissue. Briggs takes time to explore their culture and technology, including fascinating details such as their means of data storage, when the Doctor ponders, “Perhaps they store their history in a medium that can be read, or rather accessed, through taste.” They are genuinely likeable, forgiving the Doctor for making the mistake that will apparently get them all killed, and wracked by guilt because they stopped helping the Solarians even though doing so was killing them. Even by this point however, we don’t know the whole truth; it is not until the Solarians finally arrive towards the end of Episode Four and are revealed to be members of the same species as the Cimmerians, returning to their planet not to conquer and destroy, but as archeologists, that the final misunderstanding is revealed. The Solarians may have once exploited their own people, but clearly such transgressions are far in their past, and the implication is that the Cimmerians have suffered millennia of darkness and isolation unnecessarily; as one of them tells the Doctor, “It seems we have both made mistakes.”

It is this double twist, that there is no monster or villain waiting in the wings that made ‘Embrace the Darkness’ seem anticlimactic when I first heard it, but in retrospect it is a refreshing piece of storytelling that makes a pleasant change from the usual conventions of Doctor Who. In addition to crafting a thoughtful plot, Briggs also, as usual, excels at characterisation. He concerns himself with details; Episode One opens with Ferras and Haliard playing drafts and bickering good-naturedly. Orliensa’s reaction to being blinded prompts perhaps the most interesting character development; initially, she becomes bitter and angry, and is generally unhelpful. She wants revenge, escape, and is understandably confused. Gradually however, Briggs reveals details of her past in a way that makes it clear how her experiences have shaped her; she describes an occasion to Charley on which a member of her team proved to be a terrorist, forcing Orliensa to defend herself and in doing so inadvertently killing the other woman. She tells stories of failure and setbacks, before proudly describing Ferras and Haliard as “The best team I ever had”, explaining her cynical reaction to her mission going horribly awry. Later, her hard-bitten exterior is further dismantled, as Charley unintentionally leaves her alone with a Cimmerian; she begs it, “Please don’t hurt me!” and sounds understandably terrified. Nicola Boyce is superb in the role, conveying every emotion with great conviction (and handling the character’s accent rather well), as is Lee Moone as Ferras. As for Haliard, the ever-reliable Mark McDonnell is well cast, his marked regional accent lending an added air of realism to the character.

With the various aliens introduced in ‘Embrace the Darkness’ gradually proving benign, Briggs adds another source of menace in the form of the Rescue Operational Security Module, or ROSM or short. Ian Brooker’s gravelly voiced ROSM sounds great, especially when it is required to be threatening and it works extremely well as a threat simply because it strictly adheres to logical imperatives, making the Doctor’s attempts to reason with it incredibly complicated. It classifies Charley as a biohazard and decides to terminate her according to its programming, and pursues her relentlessly for much of the first two episodes. For a moment, it seems as though the Doctor has persuaded ROSM to reclassify Charley’s threat level by explaining that her genetic anomalies are a natural product of her body, due to the fact that she was born in a time before gene therapy was common. This respite is all too brief, however, because although ROSM agrees, it promptly detects other anomalies. The result of this in dramatic terms is to separate the Doctor and Charley, dumping Charley on Cimmeria Four, and it works very well, allowing some exciting action sequences.

‘Embrace the Darkness’ also uses the regulars to great effect. Paul McGann is superb here; when the Doctor struggles to reason with ROSM, McGann makes it sound like he’s really struggling to win his argument, and he also proves adept at pathos. At the end of Episode Three, the Doctor realises that he isn’t as clever as he thinks he is, and bemoans, “I’ve interfered, that’s what I’ve done. When will I ever learn?”, McGann sounding suitably guilt-ridden. Briggs also scripts a noteworthy scene in which the contrite Doctor decides to face whatever punishment the Cimmerians might wish to serve him, which results in Charley puncturing his self-indulgence by furiously asking him, “You won’t be happy until you’re dead, will you?” The only slight drawback to this scene is that it in retrospect it marks the start of Charley becoming increasing clingy and starting to mother the Doctor, a downward slide that I’ll return to in, oh, about three reviews from now. Despite this, Briggs uses Charley very well, making some amends for the smug and wisecracking dialogue that he provided for her in ‘Sword of Orion’. Charley temporarily loses her eyesight, allowing the horror of the first two episodes to extend to the character with whom the audience is traditionally most able to associate, i.e. the companion.

Nicholas Briggs usual gets to direct his own scripts, and ‘Embrace the Darkness’ is no exception. As usual, his dual role as writer and director benefits the production, since he knows exactly what he wants both from his script and from his actors. He is aided and abetted to great effect by Doctor Who novelist Jim Mortimore’s superb incidental score and sound design, which complements the story perfectly, enhancing the drama so as to make the story as creepy as possible early on and reflecting the change in mood later on. Overall, ‘Embrace the Darkness’ is rather more impressive than I once gave it credit for. Of course, it also stands out from the stories around it, with no time paradoxes featuring in the plot; nevertheless, the ongoing story arc is not completely forgotten, as the TARDIS avoids a fleet of War-TARDISes in the Vortex. With the following story, McGann’s second season for Big Finish returns to the arc, and starts to build towards its climax…

Lawrence Conquest

It’s hard not to feel cynical about the Big Finish commissioning process when presented with yet another inept Nicholas Briggs script. While his Dalek obsession makes him the perfect writer for Dalek Empire, his previous Doctor Who audios have all contained some pretty serious flaws – and Embrace the Darkness is no exception.

It starts off well enough, with the clever idea of playing to the audios strength by setting the adventure in pitch-blackness, and ends on a great cliffhanger. Unfortunately each episode gets progressively weaker, so while part one is generally good, by the end this is desperately poor stuff.

Briggs seems to have a particular problem with endings. The Mutant Phase ended with such a ghastly conceit it made the listener wonder why they bothered wasting 2 hours listening to it at all. Amazingly Briggs manages to replicate this shambles here. The first half of Embrace the Darkness presents the Cimmerians as the threat – but they turn out to be friendly aliens after all, so the second half shifts the threat to the Solarians – until it turns out that they are friendly aliens as well! Everybody’s very happy, and off the TARDIS goes to pastures new. This is the equivalent of a horror story with two ghosts who both turn out to be kids wearing bed sheets in the final reel – yes, Embrace the Darkness really is Scooby-Doo in space. This anticlimax not only makes for a wholly unsatisfying ending the first time around, it also completely sucks the drama out of any subsequent listens. I wonder if this is why Briggs gave up completely on endings and simply didn’t bother with one in Creatures of Beauty?

On the acting side the performances are generally good, though Nicola Boyce’s Orliensa seemed to get more annoying as the story progressed. Mark McDonall gives a good turn as Haliard, but unfortunately his performance sounds identical to his role in Dalek Empire, which makes his distinctive voice seem rather out of place.

Embrace the Darkness isn’t bad as such, it’s just completely and utterly pointless. The first real duffer in McGann's second run, this is definitely the low point of the season. Even if he is a friend of the producers, for the sake of the range I can only hope that Big Finish keep hiring Briggs as a director – but NOT as a scriptwriter.

Simon Catlow

'All they took was the light...'

When the Doctor attempts to avoid an unexpected presence in the Time Vortex, the TARDIS brings him and Charley to the Cimmerian System, which was noted because it sun disappeared mysteriously. The Doctor's curiosity gets the better of him and he and Charley decide to investigate the cause of it's vanishing. But the Cimmerian System is not as deserted as it appears, with a scientific base situated on the fourth planet whose staff are in danger, and a Rescue team on the way. There's something else too, something waiting - in the darkness.

Embrace The Darkness is the prolific Nicholas Briggs' main contribution to 2002's ongoing season of Eighth Doctor audios, with Briggs both writing and directing, and the result is something very interesting indeed. In the authors notes for this story he states that he had two aims in mind for this story, to make it scary and a story that could only work on audio. He accomplishes the former admirably, with Embrace The Darkness containing some of the most disturbing imagery yet in audio Doctor Who, and with regard to the latter aim, his script largely succeeds at this as well, with many of the scenes being difficult to convey as successfully via other mediums as they are here via audio.

Those listeners hoping for any kind of follow up to the closing moments of Seasons Of Fear with this story will be disappointed, as the bigger picture is put (largely) into the background as the mystery around the Cimmerian System is laid open and explored. Briggs' script sets up his story superbly well, with both the opening sections involving the regular and guest characters setting the scenes perfectly. The scenes with the Doctor and Charley create a genuine sense of mystery about why the Cimmerian sun disappeared in the manner which it did, and the significance of the events they witness there only becomes clear as the story progresses. Likewise the opening moments of the story, featuring the crew of the scientific base is very effective as an introduction to the story. It draws us into these three disparate characters lives as they set about their mission on Cimmeria IV and hits them with this crisis which plunges them into total darkness and the story proper.

The horror of the story is created very much through the script and the sound design for the story playing off the imagination of the listener. With much of the story set in total darkness, it removes the characters ability to tell the listener of the horror they face which has blighted some of Big Finish's previous attempts at audio horror in Doctor Who, most notably with The Land Of The Dead where the monsters of the story required a great deal of descriptive dialogue spoken by the characters which diminished most of the dramatic effect. This is something Embrace The Darkness doesn't have to concern itself with as the horror of the story is conveyed through sound effects which at times puts the listener into the same position as the characters present and makes for a powerful and profound effect. In fact the cliffhanger to episode one uses these ideas so well that it's a truly jaw dropping moment when the realisation of what has happened to the characters hits home.

The plot has a very good progression to it as well. The first episode establishes the settings perfectly, and has just the right of mystery to draw the listener into the drama perfectly to leave them hanging on for the next episode, and the various revelations and twists and turns about the nature of what's happening on Cimmeria IV are all revealed at just the right moments, thus keeping both the suspense and the intrigue running constantly and ensuring that all four episodes are very entertaining in different ways. The way the story resolved itself was a little odd, and more than a little unexpected. This isn't really a criticism though as it does provide satisfactory closure to the story.

The cast is excellent. The ease with which Paul McGann plays the role of the Doctor each release is quite incredible with yet another excellent performance here. This shows one of the benefits of having his stories all recorded closely together as it gives his performances a level of consistency which the other Doctors don't necessarily have due to the way their stories are recorded. McGann particularly shines at the commencement of the fourth episode where he demonstrates a more responsible side of the Eighth Doctor than is often heard, and the devotion that the Doctor's act inspires in Charley is quite touching and shows the depth of their friendship perfectly.

Speaking of Charley, India Fisher delights as usual in her role as the self styled Edwardian Adventuress, who, while not getting quite as much of an active role as some of the recent stories, performs her role with the style and grace that we've come to expect from her. A couple of moments stand out about her performance in this story, firstly she plays her part in the excellent cliffhanger to episode one with perfection, putting just the amount of shock and disbelief into her performance to make her reaction seem more real somehow. There's also a wonderful scene where she has grown tired of Orllensa's constant cynicism and sniping and Charley shows her the more fiery side of her nature in taking her to task over this.

While small, the guest cast is nevertheless impressive. The opening scene involving the three main guest characters of Orllensa, Haliard and Ferras really conveys the sense that these characters know each other well and all possess respect and like the others. This gives the three of them an emotional bond which is often absent in these types of situation in Doctor Who previously. Mark McDonnell, now best known for his starring role as Alby Brook in Big Finish's Dalek Empire series (although rather paradoxically his performance here was recorded some time before that series, yet released much later!), performs well as Haliard, and he is particularly convincing when his character has been influenced to his detriment by the events of what happens to him. Haliard isn't exactly a prototype Alby, but on McDonnell's performance here, it isn't difficult to see why he was cast in the later role as he demonstrates the same kind of dry humour and laid back attitudes which made Alby Brook such a memorable character.

Nicola Boyce's Orllensa was a strange character. Her performance was good, although it did take a moment or three to get used to the accent she deploys, but where it's a bit odd is in the characterisation. Initially she comes across as being just another one of the crew (even though she's technically the boss) but after what happens, she becomes a rather cold, sarcastic cynic for the majority of the story. Undergoing what she does in the story is bound to be traumatic, but this change in character didn't quite ring true, unless the sinking into herself against the others (particularly the outsiders of the Doctor and Charley) was her reaction to the events that befell her, and an attempt not to face up to the realities of what's happened. Also at times, it seems to be hinted that there's more to Orllensa than there appears, yet this isn't really addressed.

Lee Moone's Ferras is a little forgettable though, mainly due to the fact that the character doesn't really get any memorable scenes in the way that Orllensa and Haliard do, and not Moone's performance which is fine.

With the first episode of the story set predominantly on board a (near) deserted spaceship, the atmosphere there is initially a little reminiscent of Briggs' previous Eighth Doctor story Sword Of Orion, but one of the elements which makes this particular episode memorable is the character of the ROSM (or Rescue Operational Security Module to it's computer friends) who frequently thwarts the Doctor's attempts to learn more about where he's found himself. Ian Brooker plays this character perfectly, with the effects used to make him into ROSM working superbly well.

Embrace The Darkness also breaks a tradition when it comes to Nicholas Briggs' stories as usually as well as writing the script and directing the drama, Briggs' composes both the music and creates the sound design for his stories but with his work on the Dalek Empire series preventing that for this story, these roles fall to Jim Mortimore and the result is very good indeed. While the music might lack the dynamism of his previous Big Finish score for Project: Twilight, it compliments the story of Embrace The Darkness perfectly, lending an ethereal atmosphere to much of the drama and emphasising the horror of the story wonderfully. The sound design adds much to the process of hearing the story as it makes it more of an experience because it is so atmospheric. With it being a story designed specifically only for audio, the importance of the sound design becomes paramount, and Mortimore's work helps to bring the listener into the darkness of the story and experience what's happening. The only minor complaints I'd make against this was in the effects used to create the voices of the Cimmerians, and the occasional raucous effect which seems unnecessary. While the Cimmerian voices are very effective at conveying the strangeness of these creatures, at times it became a little difficult to make out what they were actually saying clearly. But these are minor issues in what's essentially excellent work.

Embrace The Darkness begins stylishly, and over the course of it's two hour running time provides plenty of intrigue and entertainment, but what it will be best remembered for is the disturbing nature of the imagery it inspires in the mind of the listener which is truly the stuff that nightmares are made from...

Ken Holtzhouser

I can't remember the last Doctor Who story that left me as conflicted as EMBRACE THE DARKNESS,the latest from author Nick Briggs. The setting is ideal, the guest cast is first rate and the regular cast have, in a short span of stories, become the "dream team" to listen to. So why do I feel like this?

Taking a break from the ongoing storyline, DARKNESS falls on a small group of scientists on a remote space station orbiting a dead star. If there ever was a more perfect formula for a Doctor Who story,I've never heard it. Suddenly, alien interference plunges the crew into danger and darkness. Can the Doctor banish the darkness and solve the ancient mystery at the heart of it all or will the Doctor guess wrong and doom everyone?

Episode one sets the stage well. We meet the crew, learn a little local history and get yelled at by a very large robot. All very good stuff. But somehow, the story never comes together for me after that. The cliffhanger ending to part one is terribly chilling and becomes rather more graphic than ordinary with just description alone. But the other cliffhangers just sound like the episode's run out of time. Episode four has a particularly flat ending that feels as rushed as much of the story.

For once,the isolation works against a story rather than for it. It can, at times, come off like a bunch of people standing around in a room. I needed more rushing to and fro. I needed more urgency. I needed more people, honestly.

The guest cast are very good and give it their all. At first , I felt that Mark McDonnell was playing his character from the Dalek Empire series, but he quickly grew on me. I look forward to hearing them again in the next few audios.

McGann and Fisher aren't as charged as normal, I'm afraid. I've rather rapidly taken to them as the almost perfect Doctor Who team, but that doesn't always translate for every script.

In the end? I'm just not sure. Elements of the story really work, while others need much more attention. Not the mistake that INVADERS FROM MARS was, but not as good as I've come to expect.

Maybe it's just me...