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     Big Finish 086 The Reaping:    
     Author:  BadWolf
     Dated:  Saturday, September 23 2006 @ 01:04 AM EDT
     Viewed:  1,860 times  
    DW Reviews Colin Baker as the 6th Doctor with Nicola Bryant as Peri

    Firstly I would like to extend my thanks to Big Finish for waiting until they had a two issue month and then sending me a note with the first to say that my subscription had ended. It is nice to see that the idea of customer service is still dead in my home country!

    The Reaping seems to be part one of a two story special (seems to be because without hearing the next issue....) with both the 5th and 6th Doctors. What I can tell you is that when listening I thought that the episodes seemed to be longer than usual and later confirmed that this has only two instead of the usual four with episode 2 being some 75 minutes long. If this sounds strange that I didn't notice it illustrates the flow and grip of this story.

    (continues below)

    Both The Reaping and The Gathering were written by Joseph Lidster who has previously contributed the superb "Master" along with Terror Firma and The Rapture as well as various other Big Finish stories. As most of you will know by now The Reaping (and The Gathering) feature the return of one the Doctors arch enemies The Cybermen but Lidster threw in a few surprises.

    Set in 1984 (largely) The Reaping examines the relationship betwixt Peri and her mother but also manages to give many nods to both Spare Parts (Big Finish 5th Doctor) and also the 2006 television series. Colin Baker once again shows what a fine actor he is by partially revisiting loud bombastic arrogant Doctor that we remember from the television and early Big Finish performances but also manages to show the softer side that he later matures into (with Evelyn Smithe as his companion.)

    The story begins with Peri learning that a family friend has been murdered through a news archive and demanding that The Doctor return her to her own time and home so that she can console the family. Very soon the murder begins to look suspicious and the Doctor begins to poke around. The suspected murderer recounts a tale of a silver ghost doing the dirty deed and the police seem to be under some form of mind control; The Doctor immediately suspects the hand of an old enemy.

    What follows will be familiar and pleasing territory for Doctor Who fans old and new. Mind control though ear pods; stolen time lord technology, hints of future wars, mention of the vortex and even a quick trip to Mondas this story crams it all in. Add a few totally unexpected twists and turns right at the end and we have a story that grabs the listener by the throat and refuses to let go. Just as the listener forms a theory as to what is happening then the plot twists and they realise that nothing is as it immediately appeared. There are some wonderful comedic moments in this story; "Stop! I have coffee and I am prepared to use it" says the Doctor as he tries to bust the suspected murderer out of gaol.

    The one unresolved issue in this story is the constant and awkward mention of the numbers 8687 (I am noting that 86 and 87 are the episode numbers for these apparently linked stories) obviously the meaning is to be carried over and revealed in The Harvest.

    It will be interesting to see how Lidster manages to reconcile the 5th Doctor in 2006 story with the 6th Doctor in 1894 because the 6th Doctor should know everything the 5th has experienced despite being in an earlier year.

    There is of course only one rating that can be given to this story... "Excellent."

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