‘THE SILVER TURK’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Mary Shelley’s trip in the TARDIS with Vienna and Cybermen
‘The Silver Turk’ is a four-part story with Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor.
I like Paul McGann’s Doctor and it’s great to have his resurgence in the Big Finish audios to make up for his short-lived TV era in ‘The TV Movie’. It was a nice treat when I subscribed to Big Finish and received the first adventure of the 2011 trilogy with the Eighth Doctor and an unlikely new companion!
The Eighth Doctor’s life has greatly expanded in the audio adventures as well as in the books and comics. Initially, he had a long run of adventures with Charley Pollard and then with Lucie Miller. Here, we begin this side-step trilogy of stories where the Eighth Doctor travels with Julie Cox as Mary Shelley.
‘The Silver Turk’ follows directly after ‘The Company of Friends: Mary’s Story’. I’m not very familiar with the works of Mary Shelley, other than that she wrote ‘Frankenstein’. I didn’t understand how she came to be travelling with the Eighth Doctor, but that was before I even heard ‘The Company of Friends’.
I enjoyed listening to the Eighth Doctor and Mary Shelley in ‘The Silver Turk’. The two work so well together and are a perfect fitting. It makes Paul McGann’s Byronic nature stand out well when interacting with Mary Shelley. Paul McGann and Julie Cox seem to enjoy working together in this audio.
The story opens with a brand-new theme tune for ‘Doctor Who’ composed by Jamie Robertson. He also provides the incidental music for this story. The new theme tune is pretty exciting and is so rich in music. Mind you, I really prefer the David Arnold theme where it concerns the Eighth Doctor stories.
‘The Silver Turk’ is Mary Shelley’s first trip in the TARDIS and the Doctor takes her to Vienna. In this, they witness the Vienna Exposition. But something’s amiss when someone gets brutally murdered. This leads the Doctor and Mary to discover an automaton called the ‘Silver Turk’…which is a Cyberman!
This audio adventure feels like a proper classical period drama by the BBC with its nineteenth century setting; music and atmosphere. It makes the story pretty enjoyable and intriguing to listen to. It’s a very well-written audio story by Marc Platt and it contains lots of ideas and threads connecting together.
I like Julie Cox as Mary Shelley. I don’t know much about Mary Shelley as an historical figure, but from listening to Julie’s performance I could easily get into her character. Julie is lovely to listen to with a clear voice and a warm personality. It’s a really intriguing portrayal of this historical character on audio.
Paul McGann excels as the Doctor in this adventure. He’s enthusiastic when it comes to showing Mary the wonders and sights of Vienna as well as confronting his old enemies the Cybermen. His Byronic character suits him well for 19th century Vienna and I like that he gets on really well with Mary Shelley.
Gareth Armstrong guest stars as the story’s villain, Dr Johan Drossel. Gareth has been in ‘Doctor Who’ before appearing in ‘The Masque of Mandragora’ with Tom Baker. He also did ‘The Renaissance Man’. Gareth is great as a villain! Drossel is an inventor of marionette puppets that are life-like and horrifying.
There’s also David Schneider as Ernst Bratfisch, a horse and cab driver. Bratfisch is quite an interesting character since he helps the Doctor and Mary and has seen and heard what’s been happening with the murder victims. He takes part to help, but is pretty reluctant to listen to the Doctor’s explanations.
There’s Christian Brassington as Albert Stahlbaum. He’s a misguided and arrogant person who has high delusions of grandeur. He loves Countess Mitzi Wittenmeier and is under the delusion that he invented the Turk himself. He becomes a difficult person when the Doctor interferes during this story.
There also are the Wittenmeiers. There’s Gwilym Lee, who I’ve heard in the Fifth Doctor audio adventure ‘The Emerald Tiger’, as Rolf. And there’s Claire Wyatt, who I’ve heard in two Fifth Doctor and Nyssa audio stories which are ‘Return to the Web Planet’ and ‘The Boy That Time Forgot’, as Mitzi.
There are two Cybermen featured in this story and they are the ‘Mondas originals’ as shown on the story’s CD cover with their cloth faces and exposed human hands. These Cybermen were in ‘The Tenth Planet’. They’re not my favourite Cybermen since they have really strange voices and a strange design.
Marc Platt has written a story with Cybermen like these before since he did the classic ‘Doctor Who’ Big Finish audio story called ‘Spare Parts’ with the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa. There’s a reference to that story in this one too. Interesting Marc decided to use them again in this story for Mary Shelley to meet.
The Cybermen have names in this adventure. Although Cybermen don’t usually have names, they did have them in ‘The Tenth Planet’ and ‘Spare Parts’. The two Cybermen are Gramm who works for Drossel; and Bremm who is the Silver Turk, owned by Stahlbaum, to play the piano and also play chess.
I call the ‘Mondas originals’ Cybermen the ‘confused’ Cybermen in terms of their weird voices. But Nicholas Briggs, who does the Cybermen voices, provides a different edge and tone to their voices compared to what ‘The Tenth Planet’ did. They’re not so musical in this as they sound more emotional.
Now the Cybermen I know and love are meant to be emotionless, aren’t they? They’re meant to be mechanical zombies. I didn’t find that to be the case with these Cybermen and it got me confused as to why they would be emotional. Mind you, the Cybermen were damaged during a crash-landing here.
I found it rather strange when a Cyberman was groaning in pain or became upset. It made me wonder what happened to their emotional inhibitors. I did find Gramm’s scenes with Mary Shelley to be effective in this adventure, but I’m not sure about Gramm telling Drossel to “Go to hell…!” That felt wrong.
Drossel makes life-like puppets, including ones for the Doctor and Mary. I found it eerie, strange and quite disturbing when I heard these puppets that didn’t have any eyes. Mary keeps repeating “Doctor! Doctor!” and the Doctor goes “Mary, is that you?” before revealing that he hasn’t any eyes. (shudders)
At the story’s conclusion, the Doctor and Mary defeat Drossel and destroy all his puppets. The Cybermen are now dead. The Doctor offers to take Mary home due to an emotional outburst she had. But Mary wishes to continue travelling with the Doctor since he promised her ‘the stars’. That’s lovely!
There’s a post-credits sequence to listen out for at the end. It features Mitzi and Alfred Stahlbaum introducing a new act to their audience. It happens to be…the Silver Doctor. Apparently not all of Drossel’s puppets were destroyed. I found it quite disturbing with hearing Paul McGann as the puppet.
‘The Silver Turk’ is a fascinating and enjoyable ‘Doctor Who’ audio adventure. I didn’t find the Cybermen to be great, but it’s a great beginning to Mary Shelley’s travels with the Eighth Doctor. I’m glad I heard this adventure and it does feel like a classic BBC period drama within this historical setting.
The CD extras are as follows. On Disc 1, there’s a suite of incidental music to enjoy. This includes a lullaby performed by Claire Wyatt as Mitzi. On Disc 2, there’s a trailer for ‘The Witch From The Well’ with Paul McGann and Julie Cox. There’s also a brief selection of behind-the-scenes interviews with Nicholas Briggs, Paul McGann and Julie Cox.
If you subscribe to Big Finish for ‘The Silver Turk’ via a 6 or 12 CD/download subscription, you’ll get the following extras. There is a PDF script and extended extras for ‘The Silver Turk’.
‘The Silver Turk’ rating – 8/10
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