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Game Zone – A Sporting Adventure for the Doctor and Nyssa
Welcome to the planet Cray!
‘The Game’ is a really good ‘Doctor Who’ adventure with Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor and Sarah Sutton as Nyssa. It was also very nice to hear a proper linear adventure, after ‘Creatures of Beauty’.
I had ‘The Game’ for Christmas 2008 by my parents. I enjoyed listening to this story in the car when my parents and I visited family and friends. It is a really captivating story. The environment and setting in which it is set is authentic with it being all so sporty and having the street cred throughout.
I’ve had the CD cover of ‘The Game’ signed by the lovely Sarah Sutton, at ‘Big Finish Day 6’ in Slough, January 2015. I had the CD covers of ‘Creatures of Beauty’; ‘The Game’ and ‘The Five Companions’ on that day by Sarah. They are some of the finest Big Finish audios to feature Sarah Sutton as Nyssa.
The TARDIS arrives on the planet Cray where a war goes on. The Doctor hopes to meet his hero, Lord Darzil Carlisle. The war is actually a brutal sports game called naxy, fought between the two teams, the Lineen and the Gora. Can the Doctor and Nyssa help Lord Carlisle during his peace negotiations?
This ‘Doctor Who’ story is unique in one respect. ‘The Game’ is a six-part audio adventure by Darin Henry, which is rare and unusual in the Peter Davison era. Most Peter Davison stories are four or two-part adventures. I was looking forward to how the story would be told in this six-episode story.
I really liked this story and how Darin Henry comes up with an alien society obsessed with sport. Even though I’m not a sports fan, I can visualise the game arena; the shouting crowds; coaches and the players easily. The story also suits the Fifth Doctor who’s into sport due to his cricketing prowess.
Nyssa is terrific and I really liked Sarah Sutton’s performance. Nyssa is easily shocked when she discovers what naxy is. She meets Lord Carlisle and they both share a good bond. Nyssa regards him as a surrogate father figure and she gets to works things out as a mystery occurs concerning Carlisle.
I liked how strong Nyssa is. She develops a good friendship with Hollis Az, one of the naxy players. She tries to talk Hollis out of a match between him and the Doctor. Nyssa inspires Hollis to think ahead for the future beyond naxy and even gets a proposal of marriage from Hollis which was sweet.
The last scene in the TARDIS between Nyssa and the Doctor is very touching. It also provides an indication for Nyssa’s departure in ‘Terminus’, which is a very interesting character moment for her.
Peter Davison as the Doctor is great too, as he’s so full of energy when wanting to meet Lord Carlisle. The Doctor gets to play naxy, whether he likes it or not. He’s enraged when he sees the Gora and the Lineen teams slaughtering each other. Against his will, the Doctor is made the champion of the Gora.
William Russell guest stars as Lord Darzil Carlisle. For ‘Doctor Who’ fans, William Russell is well-known for playing Ian Chesterton with William Hartnell’s Doctor in the 1960s. Here he plays Lord Carlisle, a completely different character from the one he played during the ‘Doctor Who’ TV series.
Carlisle is an old Earth ambassador, who has had success in ending wars. But it turns out Carlisle isn’t the peace negotiator he claims to be. His success is because of one person – the Doctor. The Doctor hasn’t met Carlisle, but Carlisle knows the Doctor already. This is like River Song from the new series.
The story’s villain is Christopher Ellison as the malicious Morian. Morian is a crime boss who comes to Cray in the second half of the story. He wants the game naxy to keep going and does a lot of gambling. He seems to know the Doctor well and he has managed to seduce Ambassador Faye Davis.
Throughout the naxy games, there’s a commentator. This is Jonathan Pearce as Garny Diblick. Pearce is a real sports commentator from ‘Match of the Day’. I liked it when I heard Pearce as Diblick commenting on what goes on in the naxy games between the players. It sounds like a rugby match.
There’s also Gregory Donaldson as Coach Bela Destry, who represents the Lineen team. Destry wants to end the naxy games and to stop the bloodshed. But he also wants the Lineen team to win over the Gora with honour. It turns out that Destry is hiding a secret, as he’s in secret league with Morian.
Ursula Burton guest stars as Ambassador Faye Davis. Faye works for Lord Carlisle, during his peace negotiations to end the game naxy on Cray. She seems a nice person at first and on the side of good. I was so shocked to discover when Morian manages to seduce Faye in the second half of the story.
The Gora side is led by Dickon Tolson as Coach Sharz Sevix. He’s very arrogant and is obsessed with playing naxy. He tricks the Doctor into playing naxy for the Gora team. He makes him their champion and intends to end it all with ‘total elimination’ for the Lineen team. He doesn’t realise naxy is a war.
The Lineen’s top champion is Andrew Lothian as Hollis Az. I liked Hollis Az, as he turns out to be a good soul in a vicious game. Hollis gets attracted to Nyssa, and the two get on well with each other. But Hollis fights the Doctor in a one-and-one match that results in a tense cliff-hanger in ‘Part Four’.
‘The Game’ ends with two plot points that haven’t yet been resolved. Morian seems to have escaped with Faye from Cray and the Doctor has yet to meet Carlisle again and resolve his peace talks. These elements have the ingredients for a potential sequel, which I do hope Big Finish will revisit someday.
There are no CD extras for ‘The Game’, as there aren’t any trailers found at the end of Disc 2.
‘The Game’ is one of the Doctor and Nyssa’s finest stories and is a six-part story in the Fifth Doctor era. I liked this story, as it features Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton as the Doctor and Nyssa who became my favourite TARDIS duo. I looked forward to more audio stories with the Doctor and Nyssa.
‘The Game’ rating – 9/10
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