Welcome to Valhalla, capital city of Callisto, Jupiter's
premier moon, where anything and everything is up for sale.
Whatever you want, it's here in Valhalla. All credit prints
accepted. But Valhalla isn't quite what it says in the brochures,
not since Earth granted independence and cut off the supplies.
The former Doctor (FOR SALE - EXCELLENT CONDITION - SIX PREVIOUS
OWNERS - ONLY 900 YEARS ON THE CLOCK) visits the Job Centre
and finds power cuts, barcoded citizens and monthly riots
(ALL BOOKABLE). And then there's the problem with the termites...
An abandoned colony world... A disposable figurehead leader
who broadcasts futilely encouraging messages to his people...
Am I talking about Vengeance
on Varos? A world secretly controlled by deadly
invertebrates... Or perhaps The Macra Terror? No, it's
Valhalla, the latest Seventh Doctor audio adventure
from Big Finish. It isn't the most original tale that Marc
Platt has ever written, though it does have some intriguing
and idiosyncratic ideas, as you might expect from this author.
One of the most fascinating is the characterisation of the
solo Seventh Doctor (Sylvester McCoy). Obviously lonely, though
touchy about the subject of his former friends, the Time Lord
claims to have retired and is looking for a new challenge:
"I could do that," he repeatedly states, emulating Yosser
Hughes from Boys
From the Blackstuff. This could be the same
Doctor who recently lost travelling companions under tragic
circumstances in any or all of the following stories: Roz
in the New Adventures novel So Vile a Sin, Antimony
in the webcast/audio adventure Death
Comes to Time, Ace in the comic strip Ground
Zero and Cat in the Telos novella Companion
Piece. His ennui could account for why he has
not yet visited Skaro to collect the Master's exterminated
remains (as seen at the beginning of the
1996 TV movie), despite having apparently set off
to do just that at the end of Platt's New Adventures novel
Another interesting aspect of this adventure is its exploration
of an insect society. During the latter half of the tale,
we are granted access to the termite colony, hearing the voices
of the intelligent creatures through the magic of the TARDIS's
translation system. Some comical dialogue, such as the Queen's
(Susannah York) threat to tear one of her soldiers "limb from
limb from limb", reflects the nature of the insects' biology
Simon Robinson's incidental music is also worthy of note,
combining '80s-style synth sounds (evoking the appropriate
era of the television series - in a good way) with mechanical
rhythms, insect-like chittering and unsettling, rustling footsteps.
You can hear some of this music without those pesky actors
talking all over it during the final two tracks of each disc.
The other extra features, the interviews, aren't very informative,
though Green Wing's Michelle Gomez (who plays technician
Jevvan, a sort of one-off companion for the Doctor during
this story) is amusing as she adopts a Scandinavian accent
and discusses having to initially dislike Billie Piper's replacement
(Freema Agyeman) out of principle before ultimately loving
her. It's a shame that Philip Jackson (alias leader Laxton)
isn't interviewed at all.
As I say, this isn't Marc Platt's greatest work, but I think
you still mite like it.
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