‘THE FOURTH WALL’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
‘Laser’ with the Sixth Doctor and Flip
It’s TV reality with fictional characters jumping out from the screen! 😀
You know something? I wish I had a holodeck or a holosuite from ‘Star Trek’. I can play out my personal fantasies, including re-enacting the Fifth Doctor stories I’ve written. I can play as Billy; interact with the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa; fall in love with Nyssa; and have adventures fighting Daleks and Cybermen. 🙂
I’m sure many of us have fantasies like that where we want to become the heroes of a story and save the day from terrible danger. But sometimes, living out a fantasy can have its price. Sometimes fantasies can have its own certain dangers, involving a life-long injury and possibly the death of someone.
That’s what John Dorney tries to say here in this ‘Doctor Who’ adventure by Big Finish, starring the Sixth Doctor and Flip. ‘The Fourth Wall’ is a thrilling adventure that has elements of comedic proportions whilst also having dark undertones. I enjoyed ‘The Fourth Wall’ very much when I was listening to it on CD.
This four-part adventure has Philippa Jackson – Flip on her first adventure in the TARDIS with the Sixth Doctor following ‘The Curse of Davros’. But her first adventures ends up being dangerous when she gets snatched out of the TARDIS and she’s inside a 3-D reality TV fantasy show simply called ‘Laser’.
The Doctor follows Flip’s trail to the planet Transmission where the intergalactic media mogul Augustus Scullop of his Trans-Gal empire is about to screen the first episode of ‘Laser’ on its premiere. Unfortunately, things don’t work out well when the fictional characters step out of the TV.
I like the parallels made to fiction and reality in the TV sense for this story created by John Dorney. For me, the two writers in Big Finish ‘Doctor Who’ that always do the goods are Jonathan Morris and John Dorney. They manage to tell stories that keep my interest and inspire me to become a writer. 🙂
It was fun to hear Flip being stuck inside a TV show where she interacts with fictional characters in a semi sci-fi Buck Rogers/Flash Gordon type of setting. It gets tense however when the fiction becomes too real for Flip and she ends up getting killed off. Yeah! I was disturbed when that occurred.
The Doctor is equally shocked by what goes on with Flip getting killed off and he soon tries to deduce what’s going on with the help of people in the real world as well as those who’ve stepped out of the TV show. The mix of comedic and drama elements of the story do balance really well here.
I liked it when the story opened and the Doctor was watching Test Cricket on the Time-Space Visualiser from ‘The Chase’. I’m glad Big Finish doesn’t forget about those devices that appeared in ‘Doctor Who’ before on TV. I’ve even included the Time-Space Visualiser for my story ‘Time Burp’. 🙂
It is surreal to hear cast members playing the actors that played the characters in the TV show called ‘Laser’ as well as the characters themselves that step out of the TV reality and into our own reality. Sometimes that can be mind-boggling. I had to check the story’s PDF script to confirm a few things. 😀
The story also features the notion of some aliens who try to be bad guys but aren’t really very good at it. That in itself is pretty comedic but it also builds the tension when things go wrong and the Doctor has to find a way to save the day. John Dorney delivers that aspect of the tale well in spades.
As indicated, the idea of someone being killed in a fictional reality is meant to provide heartache for those who are listening to the story. I can see why John Dorney would want to home in on that during the story, since the Doctor’s reaction to Flip’s seeming demise is quite aching. It seems to be definite.
Speaking of the Doctor, Colin Baker excels in this ‘Doctor Who’ adventure. I like the interaction and the camaraderie he’s formed with Flip since she’s become his companion in ‘Doctor Who’. I would like to hear more between them and thankfully there are more stories to follow featuring the two. 🙂
Colin Baker’s Doctor does have to cope on his own while Flip’s out of the picture. He contends with some unsavoury characters. Thankfully the Doctor’s on fire when he works out how to put the fictional characters out of commission as well as finding a way to restore Flip to life in story terms. 🙂
Lisa Greenwood is equally good as Flip in the adventure. It was funny when she made cultural references from the real world such as James Bond, ‘Star Wars’ and even ‘Blue Peter’. She does tease the Doctor a bit when criticising the Time-Space Visualiser being black-white and not colour. 😀
She even makes popcorn out of the TARDIS’ food machine. It was upsetting when Flip got shot by the TV show’s villain, after being bemused by everything that’s going on in the ‘Laser’ storyline. It was a relief when Flip managed to return in ‘Part Four’ and outwit the villain as the Doctor intended.
The story’s special guest stars include Julian Wadham as Augustus Scullop. Julian Wadham is well-known in Big Finish circles for playing John Steed in ‘The Avengers’ audios. Augustus Scullop is a really ratty character whose television company is falling apart due to tough business competition. 😐
Scullop hires Dr. Helen Shepherd to provide her technology in order to create the special new TV show called ‘Laser’. Once things get out of control, he attempts to use the show’s villain Lord Krarn to get back at the competition he’s receiving. It becomes his undoing as Krarn starts to strangle him.
There’s also Yasmin Bannerman who plays Dr. Helen Shepherd in the story. Yasmin Bannerman has been in ‘Doctor Who’ before, having appeared in ‘The End of the World’ with Christopher Eccleston. She’s also well-known for playing Roz Forrester, the Seventh Doctor’s companion in ‘Doctor Who’. 🙂
Dr. Helen Shepherd is a communications scientist who brought the reality generator to create the 3-D reality within the ‘Laser’ TV show. Sometimes she clashes with the Doctor on how things turn out with characters stepping out of the TV show, but the two do work together and solve the crisis here.
The story also features Hywel Morgan as actor Nick Kenton as well as TV action hero Jack Laser, the star of his own show. Nick Kenton is very different to Jack Laser. Nick thinks highly of himself and is a very cocky actor. Jack Laser is a charming action hero who helps the Doctor and friends in a crisis. 😀
Martin Hutson guest stars as actor Matthew Howland as well as TV villain Lord Krarn. Matthew is quite a shy actor whereas Krarn is pretty dastardly and psychotic. It’s tense when Krarn kept killing people and it was shocking when duplicates of Krarn were created. He even shoots Matthew in this.
Tilly Gaunt guest stars as actor Olivia Sayle as well as damsel in distress Jancey, who might be made as a love interest for Jack Laser in his TV show. Olivia Sayle is a pretty ‘un-bothered’ actress whilst Jancey is quite hyper and very squeamish. Both team up together in the story before they get killed.
The story also features Kim Wall as Chimbly and Henry Devas as his son Junior. Both are Porcians – pig-like aliens – who attempt to invade the planet Transmission. There’s a lot of comedic banter between Chimbly and Junior when they gets thing wrong. They also play the evil warmongers on TV.
I like how the story ends with Flip and the Doctor back in the TARDIS. Even though Flip managed to survive and cheat death, the Doctor tells her to try and be careful since this was her first trip in the TARDIS. Instead of wanting to have another adventure however, Flip fancies a Chinese takeaway. 😀
‘The Fourth Wall’ has definitely been a compelling ‘Doctor Who’ adventure by John Dorney. I enjoyed the concepts featured in this and how things came together satisfactorily. It’s a shame the Doctor and Flip didn’t spend much time together in this, but I hope it’ll be made up in the next story.
The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 1, there are two tracks of incidental music to enjoy. At the end of Disc 2, there are behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew including Colin Baker, Lisa Greenwood, writer John Dorney, director Nicholas Briggs, etc. There’s also a trailer for the next story with the Sixth Doctor and Flip called ‘Wirrn Isle’.
If you subscribe to Big Finish for ‘The Fourth Wall’ via a 6 or 12 CD/download subscription, you’ll get the following extras. There is a PDF script and extended extras of ‘The Fourth Wall’.
‘The Fourth Wall’ rating – 9/10
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