‘NIGHT OF THE VASHTA NERADA’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Vashta Nerada with the Fourth Doctor
It’s taken me a while, but at last! I’ve got to ‘Classic Doctors, New Monsters’ – Volume 2!
Back in September 2016, I purchased the ‘Classic Doctors, New Monsters’ – Volume 1 CD box set from the ‘Regenerations 2016’ convention in Swansea. In September 2017, I did full-on reviews on each of the four tales found in that CD box set, starring classic Doctors fighting new series monsters.
Now I’m checking out Volume 2 of ‘Classic Doctors, New Monsters’. I purchased the CD box set from Big Finish as part of their ‘Doctor Who Returns’ sale in early 2020 to tie-in to Series 12 on TV. I was looking forward to hearing these adventures and find out what they would be like by varying writers.
Like with the first CD box set, the second CD box set contains four ‘Doctor Who’ episodes featuring four Doctors from the classic series facing monsters from the new series. This time however, it’s different as the Doctors are Four, Five, Six and Eight instead of Five, Six, Seven and Eight like before.
That’s right! The four Doctors are Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor, Peter Davison’s Fifth Doctor, Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor and Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor. Not sure why Sylvester McCoy had to pick the short straw. Couldn’t they have done five stories in this box set to accommodate all five Doctors?
The four episodes are ‘Night of the Vashta Nerada’ with Tom Baker, ‘Empire of the Racnoss’ with Peter Davison, ‘The Carrionite Curse’ with Colin Baker and ‘Day of the Vashta Nerada’ with Paul McGann. All four episodes are directed by Barnaby Edwards, who previously did the first CD box set.
I still think it would’ve been nice to have had companions joining the Doctors in their battles against new series monsters. Leela could’ve joined Four to fight Vashta Nerada as well as Nyssa joining Five against Racnoss, Peri joining Six against Carronites and Charley joining Eight against Vashta Nerada.
Anyway, the first episode of ‘Classic Doctors, New Monsters’ – Volume 2 happens to be ‘Night of the Vashta Nerada’ by John Dorney. It stars Tom Baker as the Doctor. A pretty intriguing start to the set!
Tom Baker wasn’t in the first ‘Classic Doctors, New Monsters’ CD box set, so it was fun to have him start off the second set with his own adventure against the Vashta Nerada. I found it pretty gripping.
The Vashta Nerada are arguably a terrifying enemy for the Doctor to fight against, as depicted in the two-parter ‘Silence in the Library’/’Forest of the Dead’. It was fun John Dorney did his take on them.
I found myself pretty gripped when people were getting slaughtered off one by one and Tom Baker did all he could to keep everyone alive. Sadly, everyone except Tom Baker’s Doctor, dies in this story.
I found it intriguing that Tom Baker’s Doctor was on his own here and without a companion. He makes reference to one who just left him recently. Whether it was Sarah Jane or Leela, I don’t know.
The story has Tom Baker’s Doctor meeting a pest control group on the funfair attraction planet Funworld. Everywhere is deserted as the Doctor helps the group to uncover what’s happening here.
As they explore the funfair attractions further and the shadows are lengthening, Tom Baker’s Doctor realises that the Vashta Nerada are aboard. He finds they’re very lethal and can kill so instantaneous.
I think this may be the first time the Doctor’s encountered the Vashta Nerada in ‘Doctor Who’. He’s heard about them of course, but it seems to me that the Doctor has not met them before this story.
The Doctor finds that the Vashta Nerada are merciless and always hungry. They’re hard to reason with. It’s also so intriguing how John Dorney provides history on them in that they come from Earth.
As described in the story, the Vashta Nerada are considered harmless within their forests. But with the forests cut down on Funworld, the Vashta Nerada are hungry for revenge and want ‘fresh meat’.
Speaking of which, the story features special guest star Pam Ferris as Amanda Steele, leader of the pest control group visiting Funworld. It was great to hear Pam Ferris in this, having seen her already.
I know Pam for playing the Trunchbull in ‘Matilda’ and she’s well-known for playing Sister Evangelina in ‘Call the Midwife’. She’s also done another ‘Doctor Who’ audio story called ‘The Eternal Summer’.
I like how Tom’s Doctor and Pam’s Amanda spark off each other, despite clashing with each other. Amanda’s really gun-ho, especially when she’s so determined to destroy the Vashta Nerada as pests.
It was fun to hear Lorelei’s character of Donnelly being so unlikeable. Even the Doctor go annoyed by her. Lorelei tried to escape in the pest control group’s spaceship, only to be eaten by Vashta Nerada.
Other characters include Emma Lowndes as Phelan, who happens to have psychic abilities. Tom’s Doctor is quite nice to Phelan in the episode and it’s such a horrible moment when she got killed off.
There’s also Matt Devitt as Bennetto, who is the technical expert and pilot of the pest control team. Sadly he’s the first one to get killed off. I knew that not all would survive this very deadly adventure.
Matt Devitt also plays Grosta, a Gorlan – a silicate-based lifeform – that is like the muscle of the pest control team. Grosta has a deep gravelling voice in the tale. He is actually fairly friendly in the group.
It was saddening when the episode concluded as Pam Ferris’ Amanda went down with a fight against the Vashta Nerada by poisoning herself before they got to her. The Doctor has to witness her death.
The Doctor sends Amanda’s ship into orbit around Funworld, warning anyone who passes the planet not to make landfall. Why do I get that feeling this isn’t the end of the Vashta Nerada on the planet?
‘Night of the Vashta Nerada’ is a very gripping episode in Volume 2 of ‘Classic Doctors, New Doctors’. I enjoyed Tom Baker and Pam Ferris’ performances and the Vashta Nerada were pretty terrifying! 😀
‘Night of the Vashta Nerada’ rating – 9/10
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