Doctor Who Audio Review: Nyssa Gets Nasty

Interstitial/Feast of Fear is a Doctor Who audio double feature from Big Finish Productions.  I believe Big Finish calls these releases double bills, but I think double feature works just as well.  Anyway, this has two stories different stories each with two parts written by two different authors.  George Watkins has joined the TARDIS team comprised of the Fifth Doctor, Tegan, and Nyssa as the former Roman slave named Marc.  Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, and Sarah Sutton are all back behind the mics performing with their usual sparkling chemistry.  I like this release because I am not familiar with the writers, and I usually appreciate Big Finish’s efforts to get new writers into the fold.

Interstitial is written by Carl Rowens and has Anna-Maria Nabirye and Jeremy Ang Jones in the guest cast.  In fact, they are the only two members in the guest cast in this episode.  The Doctor and his companions happen upon an experiment being conducted with time itself, and as usual, this kind endeavor goes quite off the rails.  The setting and idea seems quite familiar, however the results of the experiments kind of have some horrific creativity.  The story has some engaging ideas, but it’s petty heavy on the technobabble, which is a little distracting.  Unfortunately, that sort of jargon is somewhat expected in Doctor Who, so I have no suggestions as to how Rowens could get around it.  It’s enjoyable enough for me to be willing to hear what else the writer has up his sleeves.

Feast of Fear is written by Martyn Waites and has a little larger guest cast which includes Deirdre Mullins, Melissa Dean, Niamh McGrady, Peter Heenan, and Michael Yare.  It has a sinister carnival traveling around Ireland during the period of the Great Famine in the mid-nineteenth century.  Nyssa has been taken over and is acting like a spooky ringmaster.  The Doctor is chained and blindfolded and having to mutter more nonsense than usual to keep an alien presence out of his mind.  Tegan and Marc are trying to figure this whole thing out and save everyone.  I have a deep affection for Ireland, so I am already partial to this story.  It’s a pretty disturbing set-up.  I am not sure, but I had some trouble keeping my imagination locked on to the setting of the circa 1845 Ireland. There was little in the sound design to help remind me that this was going on close to 200 years ago.  It’s not a bad story though.  It does have some aspects that seem a little overly familiar at time, but it’s performed well enough.  Sarah Sutton gets to indulge her darker side as Nyssa has fallen prey to one of these mind parasite type of alien threats, and she seems to have fun with it.  Tegan, played by Janet Felding, ends up being quite instrumental in the resolution of this particular , and that is handled well. Davison gets to act out more desperation from the Doctor in this one and does so quite convincingly. The Fifth Doctor tended to have a more excitable demeanor.  One can hear the almost four decades in Davison’s voice since the time he played the role on television, however the stories are usually good enough for me to welcome his version of the Doctor without hesitation.  I hope Davison has many more audio adventures left in him.

Unfortunately, I am not feeling this latest Big Finish companion in the shape of George Watkins as Marc.  It’s not really Watkins’ fault, but I think there are some missed opportunities with developing the idea of him being a Roman slave from what would be a BC era.  Marc is just sort of feeling like some dude who hitched a ride in the TARDIS.  He’s not really unlikable, but I don’t find his presence all that interesting or necessary. I may just have to see what happens with him in the next release to appreciate him more.

For the most part, this particular release has a couple of good ideas from at least newer writers for Big Finish.  The sound effects and music are quite effective, although Big Finish regularly does well in the technical aspects.  Not much new could be said about the main case since all three of them know their parts so well that they can make some of misfire stories pretty enjoyable.  Tegan is sometimes a tough character to really enjoy all the time, but she was presented quite well here, particularly in the second story by Waites.  My occasional reservations about Tegan are really not because of Janet Fielding’s performance, but sometimes the writers sometimes amp up her more obnoxious tendencies, so no one needs to think I want Janet gone or something like that.  She was a significant part of the program for the Davison era and has definitely earned her place with Big Finish.  Anyway, this is a fine release for the Doctor Who fans of all stripes.

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