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     Big Finish 87 – The Gathering    
     Author:  BadWolf
     Dated:  Sunday, October 08 2006 @ 11:20 PM EDT
     Viewed:  1,932 times  
    DW Reviews Peter Davison as the 5th Doctor with the return of Janet Fielding as Tegan.

    The much vaunted second part of Big Finish’s "Cyber – duology" arrived hard on the heels of "The Reaping" and was always going to have its work cut out for it. The Reaping was one of the best Doctor Who stories to come from the Big Finish stable in some months. It had twists and turns; a Cyberman, a wonderful plot and arguably the best actor to make the most of the script.

    The Gathering seemed to have everything going for it: The return of Janet Fielding as Tegan; the same writer and another cyber story. Unfortunately these were the very things that made this story so disappointing.

    The Gathering was a bit like waiting impatiently for that second album from Van Halen.

    It is not a bad story and could just about stand alone but as the second part of a highly anticipated story the listener is left to wonder about what might have been.

    (Continues below)

    This play takes place in present day Brisbane. Katherine Chambers left the United States along with the death and destruction of 1984 Baltimore and now is a Doctor who also owns a pharmaceutical company. The company is of course a front for her secret plan which is to use the discarded cyber technology to try to save her brother Nate (crippled in the Reaping) and plans to create a super computer capable of curing every illness. She happens to know Tegan who (conveniently) is a patient. Everything is going well until one day the Doctor turns up to find out what is going on.

    From here on the plot becomes overstretched as Lidster finds that he has built too many traps: The 5th Doctor was in the 6th Doctors future. The return of Tegan is hampered by the actress's intention not to return to the part again so a sub plot was needed to temper the listener’s hopes for more. The "8687" tease had about as much bang as a soggy firework. There were no real cybermen and the 5th Doctor gave the impression of becoming buried under a story that had about as much ability to suspend disbelief as a chocolate fireguard.

    As I said earlier this would have probably been a passable stand alone story but tied as it is to the (exceptional) Reaping it only serves to illustrate the inconsistency of Big Finish's recent output. I cannot really find that much to recommend it because so many good cooks have spoiled so much broth. In my opinion the return of Tegan should have been marked with a story written around the event but instead she is almost "bolted on" as an afterthought and squeezed into an already difficult plot. As a result the story suffers because the Doctor; the returning companion and the villain all struggle to make any impression upon the listener. Add to this a Sarah Jane type speech betwixt Tegan and the Doctor and you get an impression of how hard the struggle was.

    If you are a subscriber you will get this play anyway but if you have bought the Reaping and it inclines you towards buying the Gathering think very carefully if you are on a tight budget. If you are a new listener to Big Finish and think you would like to start with a Cyberman story then buy Spare Parts or the Reaping because I don’t feel that this was even a proper Cyberman story.

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