Review: Doctor Who – Nocturne

 Drwho Main Graphics Bf092 Nocturne Big“Dear Valued Big Finish customer,

Congratulations on your purchase of our latest audio play, Nocturne, starring Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred and Philip Olivier. To help us improve our customer service and future output, could you complete this brief survey and return it to us as soon as possible?

1 From the following list, please pick the thing you’d rather do most than have to listen to Nocturne again

a) Receive a pick axe to the base of your skull

b) Be tethered to an anthill while slathered in honey

c) Be fed one of your own limbs after having it removed by a chainsaw-wielding serial killer

2 Please suggest further uses for your Nocturne CDs

a) Turning them into throwing disks for Raston Warrior Robots

b) Coasters

c) Pimping our rides”

Plot (so tedious, I almost fell asleep, copying it from the Big Finish web site)

On the human colony planet Nocturne, there is suffering and blight, tragic symptoms of an ages-old war. Never the less, Nocturne is also one of the Doctor’s favourite places in all of time and space, because it is here that a late, great flowering of human art – the High Renaissance – is taking place.

He has been back here, many times. It is a place of music and art which he finds inspirational and uplifting. It is a place he wants to share with Ace and Hex. It’s always been a safe haven for him, a world of friends and laughter.

But with strict Martial Law imposed on the front-line city, and the brutal scourge of interstellar warfare vicing the system, how safe can anyone really be?

There is a note of death in the wild, midnight wind…

Is it any good?

So bad. So very, very bad. It’s been quite a while since I’ve actually had to endure an audio play (although since I’m in the middle of the latest Sapphire and Steel piece of awfulness, it’s once again oh so familiar to me). I kept looking at my iPod in growing horror as I realised that I’d been listening to the bloody thing for what seemed like hours and I was only on track six of 14.

It really is just awful. We have the Doctor’s new most favourite planet ever (now the Eye of Orion has fallen out of favour seemingly) under martial law. Why’s it his favourite? Don’t know. He just likes it. Despite the curfews, soldiers, etc. Okay. Sounds… inconsistent.

But oh dear! It’s being terrorised by a sound beast. Haven’t we already had that with Whispers of Terror? The fact they’re making audio plays seems to confuse the Big Finish producers: “Let’s make it about the medium. That’s terribly clever, isn’t it?” No. It’s not. I don’t remember too many Jon Pertwee stories being about the terrible Chromakey and Colour Separation Overlay beasts or the terrifying 16mm film worm.

How will they stop it? A vacuum? A pair of ear muffs? Who cares?

The script is awful. The dialogue is awful. The acting is truly terrible, although Sylvester McCoy is having one of his better days. The supposed insight into and character development of the Doctor is rubbish and will last about one episode, by previous standards.

Wretched. Don’t buy it. Please don’t buy it.

Listen to the trailer (Windows Media Player required)


The Doctor (Sylvester McCoy)

Ace (Sophie Aldred)

Hex (Philip Olivier)

Korbin Thessenger (Trevor Bannister)

Will Alloran (Paul David-Gough)

Lothar Ragpole (Eric Potts)

Lilian Dillane (Ann Rye)

Cate Reeney (Helen Kay)

Writer: Dan Abnett

Price: £14.99 (£15.50 international)

  • Curses. You’re two days too late. I’ve not listened to it yet, though; so may escape with my brain cells intact.

  • Brace yourself for yet another dismal doomed Ace crush and a wholly new message that “war is bad”.

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  • Tallifer

    Are you sure you actually listened to this radio play?
    “Nocturne” is has witty dialogue, a clever plot about a planet itself becoming a musical instrument and performer, and interesting commentary on the intersection of strife and art.
    Just as the Italian Renaissance, with all its genius, originality, beauty and sophistication, took place during one of the worst periods of Italian political history (as a myriad of petty states squabbled and numerous powerful foreign powers invaded), even so the “High Renaissance” in this story takes place in a war-torn and politically dismal time.
    The seventh Doctor, Ace and other characters are all of them delightful to listen.

  • MediumRob

    That comment is possibly the most amusing thing I’ve seen and heard in the last week. Congratulations!

  • Clearly this is all part of your anti-7th Doctor agenda.

  • MediumRob

    “Clearly this is all part of your anti-7th Doctor agenda.”
    Sylvester McCoy manages that all by himself

  • Mark Carroll

    That’s interesting. I’d put much of the awfulness down more to the scripts than the actor, but now you’re making me wonder.

  • MediumRob

    “That’s interesting. I’d put much of the awfulness down more to the scripts than the actor, but now you’re making me wonder.”
    Onscreen, Sylvester McCoy isn’t bad when he’s being fey and thoughtful. He’s dreadful at anger and stronger emotions. With Big Finish plays, not only do you have his exaggerated r-rolling, but you have the fact he’s clearly only read the script once, if that, before performing.

  • TemplarJ

    I agree with you Rob. I’ve given up on all Big Finish now, but I stopped listening to McCoy stuff long ago because as you say he clearly hasn’t read his scripts before performing and at times appears to be totally removed from the other performers around him. Painful.