01/08/2009. Contributed by Sue Davies
pub: Big Finish. 120 minute with extras 2 CDs Price: CD: £14.99 (UK) Download: £12.99 ISBN: 978-1-84435-409-2. cast: Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred, Philip Olivier, Kate Ashfield, Bindya Solanki, Eiji Kusuhara, Jeremy James and Nicholas Briggs.
check out web site www.BigFinish.com
Bliss is a beautiful planet. A supreme holiday destination, so the Doctor says. But then he steps out of the TARDIS and immediately realises something is wrong. He warns Hex and Ace to stay inside but, as usual, they over-ride his protests.
There is something very wrong with Bliss. The vegetation has been over-thrown by a dismal weed-like tree and the air around them reeks. The team find several bodies that look like they have been torn apart from the inside. That's not all, they are soon being chased by huge flying predators and seek refuge in a research facility. There, they meet the remains of a rag-tag army chased to ground by the Daleks who are headed this way.
Lieutenant Beth Stokes has retreated to the base away from the battle. Beth is desperate to save what is left of her crew but her Sergeant, Tahira Khan, is starting to witness her gradual disintegration as Beth's childhood memories of the Daleks begin to re-surface.
Hex's beliefs are severely tested here, too. As a nurse, it is his duty to preserve life but he's never met the Daleks. This series see him questioning his role within the team and what he is doing travelling with the Doctor.
Within the research facility there is a secret even more ghastly than the Daleks. Professor Shimura is intent on protecting his experiment. He believes he has created a saviour of the human race, something worse than the Daleks. He just hasn't stopped to calculate the cost of unleashing it. Built to kill Daleks, it first has other prey in mind.
Worse still, the Doctor is here for a reason and it's not the one we might think. He has a decision to make and events on Bliss will affect the future of the universe.
Overall, this has a satisfactory spread of action and contemplation. Writer David Bishop has created a good balance which allows some running away, some nice big guns and some time for reflecting on how this affects the people involved. We've got medical ethics, the dilemma of dialogue with Daleks and some more running. It's a good solid series with plenty to think about. It doesn't simplify the issues raised by the drama. Hex gets a bit more time to vent his frustrations but Ace is back to demonstrating her bewildering knowledge of weapons. We are also given more of the Daleks than just the old-style exterminator which makes the drama more than one-dimensional.
The download/CD also includes a bonus episode of 'The Three Companions: In Memoriam'. This is a dialogue between Polly and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart as she recounts her memory of an adventure with the Second Doctor. She has seen a photo of the Brigadier's Doctor and is disparaging about his style. She soon realises that this is the third version that follows her own experience of the Two Doctors. She starts to tell the Brig about the time that she, Jamie, Ben and the Doctor were trapped on a world scheduled for cremation. Its only 10 minutes and its part 1 of 4 so will only be of interest if you are signed up for the monthly subscription.
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