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Horrors for the Doctor, Peri and Erimem
I found this a rather unsettling and unsatisfying audio drama in ‘Doctor Who’.
‘Nekromanteia’ is the third ‘Doctor Who’ audio adventure to feature the Fifth Doctor with his companions Peri and Erimem. I was warned in advance from reading Timelord007’s review on Amazon.co.uk about this story, in that it would contain graphic violence and never had it been truer.
This four-part audio adventure is by Austen Atkinson, a writer new to ‘Doctor Who’ through Big Finish. What Atkinson tries to deliver is a story that echoes the Eric Saward style of storytelling during the 1980s. Sadly it goes too far into graphic violence and I found this a weak story in the end.
The story has the Doctor, Peri and Erimem summoned to the planet Talderun within a space region known as Nekromanteia. They are lured into a trap and face the horrors of witches and internal wars between space fleets. Can the TARDIS trio survive and learn the secret of the domain of the dead?!
The graphic violence featured in this tale is pretty horrific, including flesh-eating witches and cutting out people’s tongues. It wasn’t a pleasant listening experience for me, despite the story having dramatic moments here. I was hooked on scenes where the Doctor, Peri and Erimem were involved.
The ideas from Atkinson’s writer notes in the CD cover sound interesting. The inspiration for where he got his ideas had promise. He hoped listeners would enjoy this adventure from listening to those ideas. Sadly they aren’t well-realised enough and the influence of the violent atmosphere ruined it for me.
I must admit, I’m afraid I lost my way in the plot when listening to this audio adventure. This is because there were lots of complexities to this alien world to absorb and I found it difficult at times to follow who’s who and where I was in the story. Also the pacing’s not great, making it a weak story.
Reading from the CD notes, I understand that this story was originally meant for the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa. This peeked my interest and I wonder what this story would be like if it was a Doctor/Nyssa story instead. Would it make a difference? Would it have made the story better? Maybe; maybe not!
As I gathered from Timelord007’s original review on Amazon.co.uk, this story upset Peter Davison when he read the scripts. Peter insisted to Big Finish that Austen Atkinson was not to write for his Doctor again. This story as far as I know, is Atkinson’s only contribution to ‘Doctor Who’ in Big Finish.
Despite the story upsetting him, Peter manages to deliver a superb performance as the Doctor. Peter’s Doctor goes through the horrors of the events of ‘Nekromanteia’ and he reacts horrified and anguished. There’s a point during the story where the Doctor gets beheaded which was so shocking.
Nicola Bryant is very good as Peri, although she does have a rough time. Peri gets treated badly by the witches and is forced to bathe. When Yal Rom finds her, she’s stark-naked which did startle me. Peri gets upset when she witnesses Yal Rom have his tongue cut out, which was shocking to listen to.
Caroline Morris as Erimem equally suffers the horrors of this ‘Doctor Who’ adventure. There’s a moment in ‘Part Two’ where she’s almost raped and attacked, which was shocking to hear. Erimem also loses her cat Antranak, which she brought in the TARDIS with her from ‘The Eye of the Scorpion’.
The story features a talented guest cast. This includes Simon Williams, well-known as Group Captain Gilmore in ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’. Simon plays Paul Addison, who first appears in ‘Part Three’ and he seems to be a cricket lover like the Doctor. But it turns out there is a twist to Paul’s character.
There’s also Glyn Owen, who appeared in ‘The Power of Kroll’, as Commander Harlon. Harlon is the one who almost rapes and attacks Erimem. He’s pretty rough and commands his own space fleet. The Doctor doesn’t like Harlon in this tale. Harlon also has a sidekick in Kerry Skinner as Lt. Cochrane.
There’s also Ivor Danvers, who has appeared in ‘Terry and June’ and ‘Keeping Up Appearances’, as Wendle Marr. Wendle Marr is one of the bad guys. He’s the CEO in charge of a large company and he wants this energy convertor on Talderun. Marr also happens to have a sidekick in Kate Brown as Tallis.
The guest cast also includes Gilly Cohen who delivers a scary, witch performance as Jal Dor Kal. There’s also Nigel Fairs as young Yal Rom; Andrew Fettes as Salaysian and Gary Russell as Thesanius.
The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 2, there are a lot of ‘coming soon’ trailers for ‘Doctor Who’ CD releases by Big Finish. These include ‘The Dark Flame’ with Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred and Lisa Bowerman; ‘Doctor Who and the Pirates’ with Colin Baker and Maggie Stables; ‘Project: Lazarus’ with Colin Baker; Sylvester McCoy and Maggie Stables; ‘Flip-Flop’ with Sylvester McCoy and Bonnie Langford; ‘Davros’ with Colin Baker and Terry Molloy; ‘The Wormery’ with Colin Baker and Katy Manning; ‘Zagreus’ with Paul McGann, Sylvester McCoy, Colin Baker and Peter Davison. There are also some ‘also avaliable’ trailers for ‘Jubliee’ with Colin Baker and Maggie Stables and for some ‘Bernice Summerfield’ audios with Lisa Bowerman. If you wait until the end of Disc 2, there’s a brief soundbite from ‘Nekromanteia’ to listen out for.
‘Nekromanteia’ is a pretty average ‘Doctor Who’ audio story with some unpleasant scenes of graphic violence featured. I didn’t enjoy this one very much and it isn’t one of Big Finish greats. Add this to your ‘Doctor Who’ collection if you want to, but I advise you to be weary, as this is a story not to be taken lightly.
‘Nekromanteia’ rating – 4/10
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