The TARDIS takes the Doctor and Peri to a cathedralesque structure on the surface of Mars early in the 21st century at a particularly historic moment – the day of the first American manned landing on the red planet. But NASA’s crew is a motley assortment. Two American astronauts are accompanied by a pair of British civilians, Tanya and Paul Webster, whose only claim to their seats on the mission is their relation to a rich uncle whose financial backing kept the Mars shot from being scrapped. But the Websters’ presence is more than just a favor to the mission’s benefactor. The Doctor, Peri, and the astronauts discover that the elaborate building is an Ice Warrior tomb, guarded by a contingent of Warriors in suspended animation. Paul Webster suddenly shows his true colors: as an ambitious and unscrupulous agent for his equally corrupt uncle, he is on the Mars mission to bring back as much alien technology as he can find. The honor-bound Ice Warriors have a hard time coming to any conclusion other than vengeance – which could kill both the innocent members of the expedition and the time travelers as well. The Doctor feels personally responsible for the entire incident, which might not have happened if not for his presence on Mars.
Cast: Peter Davison (The Doctor), Nicola Bryant (Peri), Matthew Brenher (Lord Zzaal), Robert Jezek (Commander Lee Forbes), Maureen Oakley (Pilot Susan Roberts), Stephen Fewell (Paul Webster), Georgia Moffatt (Tanya Webster), Hylton Collins (Subcommander Sstast), Alistair Lock (Zizmar), Jason Haigh-Ellery (Sskann), Gary Russell (Razzburr)
Notes: Georgia Moffatt is Peter Davison’s daughter, but she’s not the first offspring of the leading actor to appear in the series. Sylvester McCoy’s two sons played Haemovores in 1989’s The Curse Of Fenric, and the late Patrick Troughton’s son David made three appearances, a bit part in 1969’s The War Games and much more prominent roles in 1972’s The Curse Of Peladon and 2008’s Midnight. Moffatt would later appear in a 2008 episode of the revived Doctor Who TV series, ironically titled The Doctor’s Daughter, and married the tenth Doctor, David Tennant, in 2011.
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: Ouch. For the first time in quite a while, I’m afraid one of the Audio Adventures just wasn’t quite to my taste. Listening to this thing was like listening to one of Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Klingon honor (I almost typed “horror,” which may indeed be what my subconscious is thinking) epics, minus the pictures. Davison and Bryant tackle their roles with the usual skill, and the guest stars in human roles also do quite well. Some of the Ice Warriors just don’t sound like the Ice Warriors of old, however – they sound like…well…a bunch of guys stage-whispering to one another. The Ice Warriors, as originally seen on television, hissed – barely even speaking at all. The Ice Warriors we hear in this story seem to have much more robust voices, almost regular human voices when they are riled.
I also have to give the music a thumbs-down. I know the TV series in its heyday – especially during the years that the BBC Radiophonic Workshop took over all incidental score duties – was accompanied by the relentless beat of many a drum machine, but given what we’ve heard since (Alistair Lock’s music for the Audio Adventures has almost always been spot-on, to say nothing of the synth-orchestral sounds of the 1996 TV movie and the final two seasons of Doctor Who on television), it stuck out as being out-of-place.
Red Dawn is not an uninteresting or badly-written story, but also isn’t helped by its musical score and its pacing in some places. But having been subjected to years of Star Trek’s insufferably proud Klingons wasting countless hours of television bleating about how honor must be satisfied, Red Dawn and its theme of honorable death, honorable victory, etc. wore as thin on me as the Martian atmosphere. The story’s all-too-brief discussions of the purity of intentions as a biometrically measurable property were far more interesting than Yet Another Alien Race Clinging To A Samurai Honor Code.