01/08/2011. Contributed by Sue Davies
pub: Big Finish. 2 CDs 120 minute story. Price: CD: GBP14.99 (UK), Download: GBP12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84435-490-0. cast: Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred, Ricky Groves, Beth Chalmers, Nicholas Briggs, John Albasiny, Nigel Lambert and John Banks.
check out web site www.BigFinish.com
When the Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) and Ace (Sophie Aldred) arrive in Russia, they see it’s a celebration. Hang out the bunting, its 50 years since the glorious revolution. But the cold harsh reality is that its winter of 1967 and the summer of love is further away than just the physical miles to San Francisco.
Oddly, it seems they are expected and they soon meet the dodgy dealer Markus Creevy (Ricky Groves) and his girlfriend, Lt. Raina Kerenskaya (Beth Chalmers), who has something she needs to tell him if only he would stand still enough to listen. Someone else who is interested in the Doctor’s movements is Major Maxim Alexandrovitch Felnikov (John Albasiny) and the Doctor and Ace will have to be careful to avoid a stay in the KGB headquarters.
There is hidden treasure to be uncovered and the cold weather is perfect for an old adversary of the Doctor from the red planet. The artefacts hold a deadly secret and too many interested parties, including the Russian government.
Meanwhile, there is a different agenda for Ace as she has been set up without her knowledge as a potential candidate for the academy on Gallifrey. But as the Doctor increasingly leaves her to take charge and make her own decisions, she is in the dark as to why.
This is one of the Lost Stories, originally to be part of the next original Sylvester McCoy series. This starts to set up not only the introduction of a new companion but also the departure of Ace. There is a spoiler twist in this tale and I’m not a big fan of this Time Lord sub-plot. I found it intrusive and annoying. It doesn’t seem to fit with the Doctor’s usual attitude to the rest of the Time Lords. The plot stands well enough without it with enough action adventure and also some explosions. I also accept that this was the direction the series was going in 1987 so I am happy to give it some leeway. Also, we find that Ace is not going in this revised version so as we go into ‘Crime Of The Century’, we can anticipate multi-companion fun again.
Meanwhile, Ace at least gets to spar with Creevy as he enquires about her qualifications. There is the bonus of an Ice Warrior and a cheeky insertion of fish fingers into the plot but alas, no custard. I’m sure this Ice Warrior has a sense of humour which must be a first. Altogether there is plenty going on without too many Russian names to confuse me, some lively action and human interest and period references to make you smile. Ace is a bit shouty for me at times and the Doctor a little diffident but overall it works well as an introduction to the Lost Stories and has a lot of boom-bang in its favour. The guest voices add some richness to the Russian Borscht as well.
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