‘Phantasmagoria’ (Audio)

‘PHANTASMAGORIA’

Please feel free to comment on my review.

The Fifth Doctor and Turlough in London, 1702

Here is a solo adventure with the Fifth Doctor and Turlough!

It’s also the second ‘Doctor Who’ audio produced by Big Finish from 1999. It’s amazing to think that ‘Phantasmagoria’ was one of the earliest audio adventures produced by Big Finish for ‘Doctor Who’. Nowadays we’ve got tons of ‘Doctor Who’ adventures by Big Finish. Back then, they were just starting.

I was getting into the foray of Big Finish audios and enjoyed them so much in 2008 and 2009. I was pleased to discover that there were adventures featuring Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor and Mark Strickson as Turlough. They are set in the gap between ‘Resurrection of the Daleks’ and ‘Planet of Fire’.

I often wondered what happened to the Doctor and Turlough after Tegan left the TARDIS. I also wondered what happened to them before they parted separate ways on the planet Sarn. The audio tales featuring the Doctor and Turlough together are pretty unique. ‘Phantasmagoria’ is no exception.

This is a four-part adventure by Mark Gatiss. Yes! Mark would go on to write and star in some ‘Doctor Who’ stories in the new series. He also wrote and produced ‘An Adventure In Space and Time’. Here is his first tale for Big Finish. Thankfully his blessing of ‘long may it continue’ for Big Finish became true.

‘Phantasmagoria’ is set in London 1702. It’s a Restoration comedy-styled adventure about men’s gambling clubs and mysterious hauntings. The Doctor and Turlough arrive via TARDIS to discover these mysterious goings-on. They involve this certain Sir Nikolas Valentine who may or may not be the Devil.

This adventure is okay for me. I must admit I don’t regard it highly. For one thing, there’s a lot going-on that I didn’t necessarily pick on. Also, the episode lengths are pretty short and tight. This was unusual for me to discover as I compare to longer-length Big Finish ‘Doctor Who’ audios for later years.

The story’s cast are pretty good though. There are some extraordinarily amusing performances by the actors playing the supporting characters. Peter Davison and Mark Strickson lead the cast very well. Mind you, I became dismayed that the Doctor and Turlough were separated for most of the adventure.

Mark Strickson and Peter Davison in ‘Phantasmagoria’

Peter Davison delivers an energetic and enthusiastic performance as the Doctor. This is one of Peter’s earliest Big Finish audios in the ‘Doctor Who’ main range. I was surprised little reference was made to the Doctor’s loss of Tegan. I like how Peter’s Doctor solves things out regarding the mystery in the tale.

Mark Strickson is very good as Turlough in this adventure. I enjoyed how Turlough’s cynical nature gets explored in this adventure and how he copes when he’s separated from the Doctor. He meets up with two gamblers – Jasper Jeake and Quincy Flowers. Turlough shares his adventure with these gents.

The guest stars are people that Mark Gatiss has worked with before and become friends with. There’s David Walliams, well-known for ‘Little Britain’. He’s been in some ‘Doctor Who’ comedy plays with Mark (check out the ‘An Unearthly Child’ DVD). He’s also been in the new series episode ‘The God Complex’.

Both Mark Gatiss and David Walliams guest star as Jasper Jeake and Quincy Flowers. Both are gamblers at the Diablo Club. Sometimes I found it difficult to take their characters seriously. But when these two get swept into this adventure with Turlough and when Flowers got kidnapped, it becomes serious.

The Doctor spends a lot of scenes with Dr. Samuel Hollywell and his maid Hannah Fry. Steven Wickham as Dr. Hollywell is quite an extraordinary character who conducts a séance to make contact with the spirits. The Doctor and Hollywell seem to get on very well with each other during this audio adventure.

Mark Strickson, Julia Dalkin and Peter Davison directed by Nicholas Briggs in ‘Phantasmagoria’.

Julia Dalkin guest stars as Hannah Fry. Hannah is a lovely, sweet girl who works for Dr. Hollywell as his maid. There’s a surprise twist to her character at the end of ‘Part Three’, which I didn’t expect. I did wonder how things were going to turn out and how Hannah’s part in the tale would soon resolve itself.

There’s Jez Fielder who plays a number of characters in this adventure. These include Poltrot, who is a servant at the Diablo club. There’s also Major Billy Lovemore, who is a famous London highway man. Lovemore has a secret identity. Can you guess who that is? I wish that I could tell you for this review! 😀

The story’s villain is David Ryall as Sir Nikolas Valentine. Valentine happens to be a mysterious character who gambles at the Diablo club. He’s been playing a long game for this adventure. Could Valentine really be the Devil himself or is he this alien abducting many gamblers at the Diablo club? 😀

The cast and crew of ‘Phantasmagoria’. From left to right: Jonathan Rigby, director Nicholas Briggs, Mark Strickson, Steven Wickham, Jez Fielder, David Ryall, David Walliams, Mark Gatiss, Julia Dalkin and Peter Davison.

‘Phantasmagoria’ is a pretty average ‘Doctor Who’ audio adventure and it is pretty tight-paced. I enjoyed listening to this audio adventure with the Fifth Doctor and Turlough. I don’t regard it highly, but it’s a decent tale with this TARDIS duo. If you like Mark Gattis’ stories, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this one.

The CD extras are as follows. There are two tracks of trailers at the end of Disc 2. The first track contains ‘coming soon’ trailers for ‘Whispers of Terror’ with Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant and for ‘The Land of the Dead’ with Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton. The second track contains trailers for the first five ‘Bernice Summerfield’ audio adventures by Big Finish, starring Lisa Bowerman.

‘Phantasmagoria’ rating – 6/10


The previous story

For the Fifth Doctor was

  • ‘Imperial Moon’ (Book)

For Turlough was

  • ‘Imperial Moon’ (Book)
The next story

For the Fifth Doctor is

For Turlough is

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2 thoughts on “‘Phantasmagoria’ (Audio)

  1. Timelord 007

    Blimey Tim you gone Simon Cowell on this release pulling no punches lol.

    I agree with your excellent review Tim, the episodes length clocks in overall to under 90 minutes, surely even back then BF must’ve known this & could’ve given us a extra 30 minutes to flesh out the plot narrative which is confusing & requires a couple of listens to understand the plot.

    Good performances from Mark & Peter & while not a classic Fifth Doctor adventure it has some interesting moments & worth a listen.

    P.S did Nick Briggs ever have a full head of hair.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Have I? Oh. I hope I’ve been fair in sharing the good and bad points about this audio drama. 😀

      Very pleased you enjoyed my review on ‘Phantasmagoria’. This of course one of their earliest releases and I’m glad the stories got better with longer episode lengths and more time spent on character and story. It was still an enjoyable adventure to listen to and interesting with the Fifth Doctor and Turlough together.

      Yes, I’m pretty sure Nick Briggs did have a full head of hair. He certainly did when I saw him doing the ‘Myth Makers’ interviews with people like Sarah Sutton, Peter Grimwade, Wendy Padbury and Katy Manning. You should check those out. 😀

      Many thanks for your comments, Simon.

      Tim. 🙂

      Like

      Reply

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