Doctor Who Big Finish- Red Dawn

Red Dawn

Story 08 Written by Justin Richards
Released: May 2000

Promising his companion Peri a visit to an alien world, the Doctor arrives on the planet Mars just as a NASA craft has landed. The corporate-funded expedition has less-than-honorable intentions, but can the Doctor stop them in time or will he be witness to the revival of the long-sleeping warriors of the red planet and their conquest of the universe.

One of the most popular monsters from the 60’s, the Ice Warriors faced off against the second Doctor in two memorable adventures written by Brain Hayles, the self-titled Ice Warriors set in the Earth of the future when the population are fighting a rapidly approaching second ice age. During exploration of the expanding ice shelf, an Ice Warrior is taken from its place of hibernation, only to become revived and hostile. Soon an entire craft is unearthed and an assault on the planet is begun as the Ice Warriors are seeking a new home.

Their second appearance, The Seeds of Death, was more dynamic story set further forward in Earth’s history. A new character, the Ice Lord, led an attack of Ice Warriors on the T-MAT: a revolutionary transportation technology system that connected the entire planet.

A worthy monster to stand beside the Cybermen and Yeti, other popular foes at the time, the Ice Warriors became an iconic classic monster.

When the Ice Warriors returned in the Pertwee era, they were part of an intergalactic council judging the inclusion of the planet Peladon into the Federation of Planets. In this and their final on-screen appearance a year later, the monsters were given more depth and developed as a proud warrior race. A planned return to the small screen in 1985 and later in 1990 failed to materialize (however both Lost Stories have since been adapted for print and audio). Red Dawn marks their first appearance in Doctor Who in some time and in many ways it is an homage to all of their previous appearances.

After several stories that explored new ideas in a traditional style from the classic program, Red Dawn is more of a straight-forward affair. That’s a nice way of saying that it’s rather dull and uninspired. After several encounters with the Ice Warriors and seeing them play the role of hero and villain, the Doctor is understandably confused and uneasy around the lumbering green ‘monsters…’ and I do mean lumbering. On screen the Ice Warriors moved and spoke very slowly. In audio format, we cannot see them but can certainly count the seconds crawl by as they speak exposition. I don’t mean to be too harsh on this story, but it hardly stands out as exciting and full of new ideas as previous installments such as Whispers of Terror.

The crew of the spaceship Argosy are investigating an ‘anomaly’ on the planet Mars. Finding the Doctor inside a strange tomb-like structure raises many questions for the NASA crew, allowing the perfect opportunity for one of their number, Paul Webter, to hatch a secret plan. It soon becomes apparent that Paul’s father’s business, the Webster Corporation, was well aware of the tomb and the sleeping warriors. The plan is to reverse-engineer ‘Earth Warriors’ from the DNA found on Mars. Paul puts the entire crew in danger by attempting to abduct an Ice Warrior himself, and takes Peri along for the ride. The Doctor realizes that Paul’s actions place the human race in a bad light, to say the least, and desperately attempts to stop a war between Earth and Mars from erupting.

Red Dawn is hampered by a predictable plot and sub-par voice acting as well as a soundtrack that sounds like it belongs in a cheap late 80’s science fiction film. I have been very excited about the high level of quality from Big Finish Productions, so I was very surprised to find such a drop in this story. I do quite enjoy the Ice Warriors, but it seems that Justin Richards handled them with too much unease by placing them in a mish-mash of their 60’s and 70’s appearances; a proud warrior race is unwittingly revived from a deep sleep.

Peter Davison is again in fine form as the Fifth Doctor, giving equal parts drama and witty humor in his delivery. Red Dawn sees Davison paired with Nicola Bryant as Peri, a companion that was under-developed on screen. Here she is brave and smart, but still a bit dull (not her fault, the plot is just not that challenging). Separating Peri from the Doctor does allow her to shine in her own light, I should admit, and she certainly shows that she has what it takes to be a great companion, but again, the action is just not dramatic enough for me.

Hardly a failure, Red Dawn is simply not as superb as the other audios that I have enjoyed. Nonetheless, if you are a fan of classic monsters and of the Fifth Doctor, this may be right up your alley.

Doctor Who – Red Dawn can be purchased at local retailers and online from Big Finish.

Read other Big Finish reviews at the Daily P.O.P. here.


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