Book Review – Doctor Who: The Pyralis Effect

  • Title: The Pyralis Effect
  • Series: Doctor Who Companion Chronicles
  • Author: George Mann
  • Director: Lisa Bowerman
  • Characters: Romana II, Fourth Doctor
  • Cast: Lalla Ward, Jess Robinson
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 08/23/2017

**Spoiler Alert** I usually really enjoy listening to Big Finish’s audio plays and the Companion Chronicles is one of my favorite lines, especially as the stories are told from the companion’s point-of-view, and they are often like Missing Adventures that would be impossible to do otherwise. However, The Pyralis Effect is very flat. Lalla Ward pretty much just reads the story, which seems to often have her cowering in a corner, ready to scream at a monster.

The plot has the TARDIS land on a huge spaceship. The Doctor and Romana II immediately go out exploring. The ship seems deserted. They find a control room with a growth chamber – and get separated as the Doctor wanders off. Romana of course gets herself lost, but hears a whimpering from a locked room. She opens the door and releases CAIN – an insane AI with a malfunctioning fungal brain. This catches the attention of the few people aboard the colony ship. Romana finds out that the ship is the Myriad, a colony ship, that left it’s home planet after a series of environmental disasters destroyed it. The planet’s people are held in a DNA bank, and the ship contains cloning equipment – once they find a new home, or return to their original one when it’s habitable, the colonists will be grown and start life anew. But for now, the ship has a very small crew and they seek The Doctor, a legendary and even mythic figure who helped their planet once before.

Romana and the Doctor are soon on the bridge, as the captain has sent three crew members to a nearby moon to investigate a strange obelisk they think might actually belong to the Doctor.

As Romana watches, she suddenly realizes that she recognizes the obelisk. It’s the gate to a dimensionally transcedental gateway – a prison, created by the Time Lords, to hold the Pyralis – fierce, conquering, beings of light, parasites that once threatened the entire galaxy, before being defeated by the Time Lords in a war. Romana rushes to stop Suri, the captain, but she is too late. The gate is opened, the entire moon implodes, a rift is born in space, and the Pyralis released. On the ship, one by one the crew is killed. At first, suspicion falls on the Doctor and Romana. When the second murder occurs while the two are locked up – suspicion falls on CAIN, the AI, whom Romana had accidentally released. Eventually, Romana figures out who the real murderer is – but not before nearly the entire crew is dead.

To finally defeat the Pyralis, the rift must be closed again. One of Suri’s few remaining crew sacrifices himself to close the rift (he was dying anyway). He’s successful. Before leaving, the Doctor gives Captain Suri the co-ordinates of a new planet where she can take the Myriad, and start her civilization anew. But he denies being The Doctor of their stories, and tells Suri she should forget about myth.

This story is pretty flat. Lalla Ward reads the story, rather than performing it. The story itself could have been an atmospheric English Manor House Mystery in Space (similar to the aired story, “Robots of Death”) but it misses the mark. The interesting concept of the Doctor dealing with the fallout of his actions to save a civilization – centuries later, and how that civilization now sees him is completely wasted, as the Doctor simply denies that he was the Doctor who saved Suri’s people before – calling such stories, “myth and poppycock”. Even though this is Romana’s story, she’s often portrayed not as strong and clever but screaming in corners, and simply pushed along by the plot.

Overall, the story is OK, but only a 3 out of 5, and a bit disappointing. There are much better stories in this range of Big Finish audios.

Find out more about Big Finish audios at their website: www.bigfinish.com

Click this link to order The Pyralis Effect on CD or Download.

Note: No promotional consideration was paid for this review. I review because I enjoy it!

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Book Review – Doctor Who: The Beautiful People

  • Title: The Beautiful People
  • Series: Doctor Who Companion Chronicles
  • Author: Jonathan Morris
  • Director: Mark J. Thompson
  • Characters: Romana II, Fourth Doctor
  • Cast: Lalla Ward, Marcia Ashton
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 03/20/2014

I’m really beginning to love Big Finish’s The Companion Chronicles range. Even though they are not full cast audios, the stories are great and I like the emphasis on the companions and/or the companion’s point of view. In this particular one, Lalla Ward does read the story (even including the chapter numbers and titles – something none of BF’s productions actually do whether audio book or audio play). What I like about The Companion Chronicles range though is that because the stories are about any of the past Doctors, they are more like the BBC Books Past Doctor Adventures or the Virgin Publishing Missing Adventures line of original paperback Doctor Who novels. Those were often some of my favorite stories – and they are something I miss.

This particular story is great fun, and has a good point to it. The Doctor is barely in the story, and most of it has Romana, separated from the Doctor, having her own adventure. She and the Doctor land on a planet, hoping for some relaxation, and the Doctor is craving a good doughnut. However, they’ve landed on a planet-wide health spa. The diet planet, however, is hiding a dark secret – which Romana must discover and stop. The story is brilliant – fun, adventurous, but with a point to it that I appreciated and welcomed. It really felt like late 70s/early 80s Doctor Who and that was awesome too. I highly, highly recommend this story.

Find out more about Big Finish audios at their website: www.bigfinish.com

Click this link to order The Beautiful People on CD.

Note: No promotional consideration was paid for this review. I review because I enjoy it!