On the planet Cray, the Gora and the Lineen are all set
to face off in the grudge match to end all grudge matches.
The players are limbering up, the commentators are preparing,
and the fans are daubing themselves in their team's colours.
When the Doctor and Nyssa arrive, however, they realise that
the sport called naxy is anything but just a game...
Big Finish's Doctor Who adventures are usually divided
into four episodes, reflecting the typical format of the old
TV series. I have often commented that the duration of many
of these audio adventures would have been sufficient to make
six episodes. For once, the production team have set out to
make a six-part story, featuring a Doctor (Peter Davison)
who never appeared in such a serial on TV. Ironically, this
one is not really long enough to justify such a structure,
and the episodes end up lasting only around 20 minutes each.
Another thing Davison never got to do in the TV show was work
with William Russell, who played Ian Chesterton alongside
William Hartnell. But he might have done, because Ian was
originally going to feature in the serial Mawdryn Undead,
before the plan was changed and the Fifth Doctor instead met
a retired Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart teaching maths at a
at last the two actors meet - in a story that tantalises the
listener with the possibility that Ian may have made a return
appearance. Though Russell's character goes by the name of
Lord Carlisle, he claims to know the Time Lord of old... Russell
is no stranger to Who in the audio medium, having narrated
BBC Audio's Marco
Polo CD and Doctor
Who and the Daleks
MP3-CD. He turns in an endearing performance here as a would-be
it's easy to imagine Ian Chesterton in the situation in which
the Doctor finds himself: coerced into participating in a
gladiatorial fight to the death. That's the sort of thing
that Chesterton had to deal with on a weekly basis.
are shades of Chris Boucher's recent novel Match
of the Day as writer Darin Henry (Seinfeld,
Futurama) takes a few satirical swipes at the world
of spectator sports. Violence that once took place among fans
off the pitch has influenced the game itself. Jonathan Pearce
from TV's Match of the Day lends his voice to the role
of the excitable commentator Garny Diblick, who, in a moment
of supreme black comedy, continues his commentary even as
events take a deadly turn for the worse. Diblick's narration
also comes in very handy for describing, in an unobtrusive
manner, incidents that we as listeners cannot see.
plot isn't as surprising as Darin Henry probably thinks it
is, especially if you've seen the Star Trek episode
The Gamesters of Triskelion. Nevertheless it passes an
entertaining couple of hours.
I have indicated, there's only enough material here for five
old-style episodes, rather than six, but any additional story
padding would have resulted in a tale as slow as many of those
six-parters of old, so let's be grateful that The Game
doesn't run into extra time.
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