The TARDIS materializes in mid-air over Alaska, 1964, and then vanishes again when a small airplane nearly collides with it. The TARDIS takes the Doctor and Nyssa to the same location in 1994, where British millionaire Shaun Brett oversees the construction of an enormous house. Brett’s employees include the half-Inuit, half-American Tulung, who acts as a mediator between Brett and the local Inuits who have labored on the huge project, and Monica Lewis, an interior designer who hopes that this house’s unique and sometimes macabre designs will enhance her resume. The Doctor and Nyssa encounter savage creatures roaming the frozen wasteland outside the isolated house, and it soon becomes evident that the same beings are in the house as well. Tulung and the elderly Gaborik believe that the creatures are manifestations of angry spirits of the land, which has been defiled to create Brett’s house. The Doctor quickly discovers that the creatures have properties unlike any other creature on Earth, and yet they are native to the planet. It’s only a matter of time before something kills everyone at the house – the only question is whether it will be the increasing hoarde of ancient monsters, or the mad blood feud for vengeance that has tied Brett and Tulung together since childhood.
Cast: Peter Davison (The Doctor), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), Lucy Campbell (Monica Lewis), Neil Roberts (Tulung), Christopher Scott (Brett), Andrew Fettes (Gaborik), Alistair Lock (Supplier)
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: Easily the best of the Audio Adventures so far, The Land Of The Dead is more than just good Doctor Who – it’s good science fiction and it’s good drama as well. Those three elements don’t always converge seamlessly, so this is a good example. It’s also an excellent example of doing in the audio medium what could not be done on television – the sets for this story would have broken the BBC’s budget for an entire season of the television series, and possibly would have been too inherently gory to bring to life to begin with. The settings are painted in great detail in this story without resorting to dialogue which sounds like someone reading the stage directions. Overall, the story’s descriptiveness – and the ease with which that descriptiveness is integrated with the dialogue – is breathtaking. (There’s a reason that writer Stephen Cole was the first editor of the BBC’s new range of Doctor Who novels.)
The cast is also uniformly outstanding, especially with the return of the sublime Sarah Sutton as Nyssa. Sounding not a day older than she was when she last appeared in Doctor Who in 1983, Sutton truly has a grasp of the character’s nuances and is also serviced with a much better script and a stronger characterization than she dealt with for much of her time on television Doctor Who. Lucy Campbell and Neil Roberts are outstanding as Monica and Tulung, and Monica is possibly the most well-rounded guest character to have been introduced in the Audio Adventures – in my mind, she was potential companion material, and is truly a 90s character.
I can’t praise The Land Of The Dead enough – a great set of scripts, an enthusiastic and skilled cast, and it all takes me back to my youth when I used to record Doctor Who episodes onto audio cassette from the TV speaker. It has the same feel, and I can truly “see” what’s going on. If you’re skeptical about whether or not Doctor Who is back, or whether audio is a worthy medium for the franchise, give this one a listen even if you don’t plan on listening to any of the others. Excellent stuff!