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Peri returns home and faces the Cybermen
I love ‘The Reaping’ starring Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant!
This is my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ audio with the Sixth Doctor and Peri. I love it simply for the fact it is a proper character drama. It’s a lovely piece by Joseph Lidster, who is a popular Big Finish writer.
This is a 2 by 70 minute story on two discs (140 minutes in total).* I’ve had the CD cover of ‘The Reaping’ signed by Colin Baker; Nicola Bryant and writer Joseph Lidster, who I’ve met at conventions.
For me, the biggest highlight of ‘The Reaping’ is that the story is all about Peri. In the story, we return to Peri’s home and find out what she left behind with her family and her friends. I’ve always like Peri as a companion and I wanted to know who she was and this is the best story for Peri as a character.
I had the pleasure of meeting Joseph Lidster for the first time at the ‘Project Motor Mouth 2’ convention in Slough, August 2013. It was great to meet Joe. We chatted about writing in general as well as the ‘Doctor Who’ stories he wrote including this one and the sequel/prequel ‘The Gathering’.
I liked how ‘The Reaping’ opens with its various news reports from various time periods overlapping with each other. It was very eerie and exciting listening experience to the start the story. It gives an unusual sense of what the story’s atmosphere is about and it sets it up for Peri’s character later on.
I liked the semi-prologue at the beginning of ‘The Reaping’ where Peri visits her mom at her hotel in Lanzarote before she meets the Fifth Doctor in ‘Planet of Fire’. The prologue sets up the story well as it introduces us to Claudia Christian as Janine, Peri’s mom and to Denise Bryer as Mrs Van Gysegham.
Later, the Sixth Doctor and Peri visit the Gogglebox inside Earth’s moon. It’s like an outer-space Google on Earth’s history. Peri wants to see what’s happened to her family. When she discovers her best friend’s dad has been murdered, Peri is upset and demands the Doctor to take her back home.
‘The Reaping’ resembles another ‘Doctor Who’ story from the new series called ‘Aliens of London’/’World War Three’. In that story, Rose returns to her home and family only to have missed a year out. The same principle applies to Peri in this one, except she’s missed only four months here.
When Peri returns home in Baltimore 1984 to reunite with her mom and friends, it’s an uneasy reunion. She’s been gone for so long without word of where she’s been. I like those stories where companions return to their roots and face the consequences when they’re travelling in the TARDIS.
Claudia Christian guest stars as Janine Foster, Peri’s mom. A ‘striking woman’ as the Doctor describes her. She’s not happy when Peri comes back as she’s been sick with worry. It cost her marriage with Howard, Peri’s stepfather. When Janine learns about the truth about Peri, she can scarcely believe it.
Nicola Bryant is lovely as Peri. I’ve always wanted to find out more about who Peri is as I wondered why she stayed with the Doctor since they didn’t seem to get on well in the series. But Peri explains, just because she and the Doctor argue it doesn’t mean that they don’t like or care about each other.
Peri is grateful to the Doctor for saving her life in ‘The Caves of Androzani’ and tells her mom and Katy that he’s her best friend. That was a very lovely moment and it made me like Peri more. It’s a great character drama for Peri, as it explores her family; friends and her friendship with the Doctor.
Colin Baker is superb as the Doctor in this adventure. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Colin Baker at conventions. He’s a very good Doctor both on TV and audio. I liked it when Colin’s Doctor investigates the death of Anthony Chambers and frees the suspect Vincent Pirillo as Daniel Woods.
I found it hilarious when the Doctor was reacting with Mrs Van Gysegham’s driving in her car. He gets freaked out when he tells the woman to ‘face the road!’ I liked the Doctor’s relationship with Peri in this and his intense scenes with John Schwab as Lt. Doyle when refusing to “Drink the coffee!”
The guest cast also includes Stuart Milligan (from ‘The Impossible Astronaut’/’Day of the Moon’) as Anthony Chambers, the murder victim. There are also Peri’s friends/Anthony Chambers’ children, including Jane Perry as Kathy, Peri’s best friend and Jeremy Lindsay Taylor as Nate, Kathy’s brother.
Listen! “Eight six eight seven! Eight six eight seven!” Sorry! I don’t know why I said that. Those numbers seem to be a recurring motif throughout ‘The Reaping’. This is similar to the ‘Bad Wolf’ and ‘Torchwood’ motifs. The numbers have some significance. What does it mean though? Will we find out in this story?
The Cybermen also return in ‘The Reaping’, which I found thrilling. I know it’s the 80s Cybermen from the CD cover, but I felt they sounded right in their voices for this. They have that mechanical walk which pleased me and Nick Briggs does the Cybermen’s voices very well with deep grating menace.
The music and sound effects are eerie and unsettling to listen to. Yet they fit in well and effectively for this story. I liked the music and sound effects as they give a very atmospheric edge to the story.
Towards the end of this story, Peri decides to leave the Doctor and remain on Earth with her family and friends. It’s a shock for the Doctor and it’s a rather sad way for them to part. It saddens the Doctor greatly. It’s beautifully done as it gives a proper and realistic way for Peri to leave the Doctor.
The actual end of the story is sad and upsetting, as Peri’s mom gets killed when Cyber technology unexpectedly blows up in her house. Peri is upset at her gravestone. It’s a heart-breaking moment. The Doctor turns up to comfort Peri when she’s at her mom’s gravestone and it’s a touching scene.
This is a turning point in the Doctor and Peri’s relationship. They’re more caring about each other. I thought it was touching for the Doctor to comfort Peri in that moment. They leave together in the TARDIS. There isn’t anything for Peri anymore on Earth and it’s a very moving way to end the story.
As the end credits music roll on, Janet Fielding as Tegan narrates about how she reunites with the Doctor again as that’s what happens next. There’s a trailer for ‘The Gathering’, a story that follows directly after ‘The Reaping’, with Tegan returning to ‘Doctor Who’ and to reunite with the Fifth Doctor.
The other CD extras are as follows. On Disc 1, there’s a ‘coming soon’ trailer for ‘Memory Lane’ with Paul McGann; India Fisher and Conrad Westmaas. At the end of Disc 2, there are trailers for other Sixth Doctor and Peri stories including ‘Cryptobiosis’; ‘Her Final Flight’; ‘..ish’ and ‘Whispers of Terror’.
‘The Reaping’ is definitely a high quality audio drama of ‘Doctor Who’ from Big Finish with the Sixth Doctor and Peri. It’s one of my favourites and it has the style of a soap opera about it. It’s a well-written story and is well-performed by the cast led by Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant with Cybermen!
*Thanks to Timelord007 for the check-up on the running time for this CD.
‘The Reaping’ rating – 10/10
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