‘HOUSE OF CARDS’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Ready for a gamble?!
This is ‘House of Cards’! A ‘Doctor Who’ Companion Chronicle by Steve Lyons, featuring the Second Doctor, Polly, Ben and Jamie. It stars Anneke Wills as Polly and Frazer Hines as Jamie who narrate the story from their perspectives in the first person. I purchased this audio story at around February 2013.
This was to celebrate the Patrick Troughton era of ‘Doctor Who’ for the 50th anniversary! I’ve now had the CD cover of ‘House of Cards’ signed by Anneke Wills at ‘Dimensions 2013’ in Newcastle, October 2013. I enjoyed listening to this audio adventure with the Second Doctor, Polly, Ben and Jamie.
In this story, we have the Doctor, Polly, Ben and Jamie arriving in the TARDIS at a futuristic space casino. There’s lots of gambling going on at the casino and the Doctor’s friends join in the fun and games. But there’s also monsters about this casino as well as cowboys. Things can get very dangerous.
The Sidewinder Syndicate is there! They’re snake-like gangsters. There’s also vicious robot dogs and a mysterious masked woman named Hope. As the gambling takes place, there are some who maybe cheating on the games. Polly discovers this when she finds herself travelling back in time in this story.
Can Polly and her friends avoid being tracked down and arrested or will the Doctor have to play a deadly game of games with a sinister lady called Fortune? Things could get out of hand whether in comical or sinister proportions. Polly and her friends may have use to certain wits to survive this story.
Steve Lyons has claimed the early Second Doctor team are his favourite and Season 4 is his favourite era of ‘Doctor Who’. Steve wrote for this Second Doctor team before in ‘The Selachian Gambit’. Here he writes for the Second Doctor team again. He really relishes writing Ben, Polly, Jamie and the Doctor.
In this story, Steve creates this alien atmosphere of a futuristic space casino. It’s like Las Vegas which is much of an alien place anyway. There are a lot of classic American idioms featured in the story especially with the cowboys and phrases such as “You’re darn tootin’ right!”; “You dirty rat” and more.
Steve creates the feeling of a James Cagney film in this one. My Dad’s a fan of James Cagney. Sometimes the story seems silly with its cowboy characters like Lucky Bill and those freaky aliens. But the heart and themes of this story is about risks in gambling which I feel is really important these days.
It’s also a story that tells us how important it is to not cross the threshold when you spend too much either in gambling and anything whatever. It can always get you into trouble and you have to face the consequences. That is a part of the story that appealed to me when I heard it for the first time in 2013.
I enjoyed listening to Anneke Wills and Frazer Hines in ‘House of Cards’ as they bring back the early Patrick Troughton days. We’re denied seeing those TV adventures from Season 4 since most of them are lost in the mists of time. Thankfully we do have some surviving TV episodes and audio soundtracks.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Anneke Wills at conventions. She once complimented me on my acting when I took part in an interactive panel by director Graeme Harper at the ‘Regenerations 2010’ convention in Swansea, September 2010. She said I was very good. I really liked that when she said it.
I later took part in a group photo with all of the Troughton companions at the ‘Regenerations 2011’ convention in Swansea, September 2011. This included Anneke Wills; Frazer Hines; Wendy Padbury and Deborah Watling. I had another group shot with the four at the ‘Regenerations 2016’ convention.
I got chatting to Anneke at signings and mingles at conventions in Slough; Swansea and Newcastle in 2013. I got things signed by Anneke including the CD cover for ‘House of Cards’. I’ve enjoyed meeting Anneke as she seems friendly and I’ve chatted to her about her work in ‘The Saint’ and ‘The Avengers’.
Polly is at the centre of this story. She drives the plot forward witnessing events and seeing what Ben, Jamie and the Doctor do in terms of gambling. She’s horrified when she sees Ben over-indulging himself and pretty soon getting himself into trouble with the Sidewinder Syndicate and with Lucky Bill.
In the story, Polly gets to share scenes with Jamie as they talk about what casinos are and sharing their experiences of meeting Hope which I enjoyed. It’s interesting how their perspectives come together. Polly gets abducted by the Sidewinder Syndicate at some point and soon gets interrogated by Fortune.
Polly uses a time amulet to travel back in time and sees her earlier self before her eyes. She’s anxious when she sees the Doctor gambling and playing cards with Fortune. I enjoyed Polly in this adventure and it’s so lovely to hear Anneke playing the character with such enthusiasm for her ‘Doctor Who’ era.
I like Anneke’s interpretation of Ben in this story. She makes him sound so much like Ben with his cockney accent and rough manner. I liked it when Ben goes “Duchess!” to Polly, and it’s a great dedication to Michael Craze who originally played Ben since Anneke knew him so well in the TV series.
I also like how Anneke interprets Patrick Troughton’s Doctor with his voice sounding deep yet very comforting and reassuring, almost as if he’s giving Polly a pat on the back. It’s not as good as Frazer’s interpretation, but it’s certainly like Patrick when Anneke does it. She really enjoyed working with him.
Like Anneke, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Frazer Hines at conventions and have enjoyed chatting with him during signing and mingles. I enjoyed him as Jamie as this story. Jamie gets to witness events from his perspective, so we have Frazer in his Scottish accent throughout his performance in this story.
I liked it when Jamie’s in awe by the space casino environment that he and his friends have arrived in. It reminds him of the gambling dens in London where he comes from in his own time period. Jamie’s still relatively new to the TARDIS crew of Season 4. He seems to have fitted in rather well by this point.
I enjoyed Jamie’s story when he sees what goes on with the woman called Hope; the Sidewinder Syndicate and what Ben does with his gambling and Lucky Bill. It’s nice to hear Frazer as Jamie and apparently there was a lot of laughter and joking between him and Anneke through the story’s making.
The monsters are the Sidewinder Syndicate, who are snake-like gangsters. They’ve appeared in ‘Doctor Who’ before. Have they? When? These monsters were in the comics of ‘Doctor Who Adventures’, a children’s magazine for young ‘Doctor Who’ fans. That’s rather interesting, isn’t it?
The Sidewinder Syndicate have been in adventures with the Tenth Doctor and his comic book companions Heather McCrimmon (Jamie’s descendant apparently) and Wolfie Ryter in 1920s Chicago as well as with the Eleventh Doctor and Amy. And here they are now in this Big Finish audio adventure!
To have them in a Big Finish audio play is quite unusual as they were created by Steve Lyons in some new series ‘Doctor Who’ comics and brought to life in this audio story set in the classic series. Nowadays, Big Finish have acquired the Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Doctors for their audio adventures.
Anneke provides the voice for these snake-like gangsters in the Sidewinder Syndicate. Anneke really enjoyed playing them as she provides a hissing tone to their voices. Sometimes they sound silly and rather too hissy for my liking, but it does kind of work especially in the context of this audio adventure.
The CD extras are as follows. At the end of this disc, there’s a trailer for ‘The Scorchies’ with Katy Manning as Jo Grant. There are also behind-the-scenes cast and crew interviews with Anneke Wills, writer Steve Lyons and director Lisa Bowerman, conducted by producer David Richardson on this tale.
‘House of Cards’ is an enjoyable Second Doctor audio adventure with Anneke Wills as Polly and Frazer Hines as Jamie with the Second Doctor and Ben vs. the Sidewinder Syndicate from the ‘Doctor Who Adventures’ comics. I enjoyed listening to this audio adventure for the 50th anniversary celebrations.
It’s a fun adventure that brings back the Second Doctor era in full form!
‘House of Cards’ rating – 8/10
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