Wednesday, 18 November 2015

REVIEW - SHIELD OF THE JOTUNN



The Doctor meets Vikings...again!


"2029 AD. In the desert of Arizona, billionaire philanthropist Dr Hugo Macht is trying to save the world from climate change. But his great project to "scrub the sky clean" with nanoatomic machines grinds to an unexpected halt when his diggers break into something unexpected: a Viking burial barrow containing eight corpses, a mysterious shield, an even more mysterious inscription... and a yet more mysterious traveller in time and space, known only as the Doctor.

And that's not even the strangest part of Dr Macht's day. Soon, it'll begin to snow. Soon, the Doctor and his Girl Friday, Mrs Constance Clarke, will come face-to-face with an ancient horror in the blizzard. A Frost Giant, in need of a new body. In need of flesh..."


After three (or is it four) stories, I can’t say that I’ve resonated with Constance Clarke. As far as companions go, she’s exclusive, but at the same time awfully universal and I just can’t bring myself to care what happens to her. One scene she’s all “Doctor Doctor!” and the next she’s “gung-ho keep a stip up a lip”. It’s jarring bouncing around like that. I’m aware that the missing husband back story isn’t going to be resolved within three stories, but it does feel as though Constance’s sub plot is just that…a piece of back story that won’t ever be resolved or dealt with. How about some clues or whatnot? Just to create the illusion that the duo are trying.


Usually, I rate the supporting cast high if I can be bothered to remember their names. This is made even worse by the fact that on audio, it’s harder to distinguish and remember these things.  And even then, it’s only half the battle. But I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed Michael J Shannon and Neil Mooney as Hugo and Lisa. While they were pretty stereotypical, the plot did try to flesh them out a little and the pairing of the Doctor and Hugo and Lisa with Constance was wonderful to hear play out. Hugo especially felt like Herbert from Timelash the way his every action seemed to annoy the poor Time Lord.


I also found the Doctor/Hugo plot more engaging than the Constance/Lisa, but I chalk this up to liking the Sixth Doctor a whole lot more than Constance.


As with The Girl Who Died, the Vikings weren’t given as prominent a role here, but the way they were incorporated and ultimately used is both clever and epic. Twenty foot tall Vikings doing battle with ice monsters is certainly something I wish I could actually see. Hearing them sounded awesome, but I can only imagine how they would’ve looked on TV.


The alien menace is also virtually superior to say the Mire in every way. They are very threatening and their concept smells like a new, clever spin on a very old Doctor Who idea. The interactions between the Doctor and the Talessh are also worth emphasizing as it once again highlights the compassionate and morally just Sixth Doctor. This trait very rarely appeared on the TV Series, so whenever this side of the Doctor dawns, it’s worth a mention.


The Talessh’s back story is well-done, links together with the rest of the narrative pretty well and makes them come across as so much more than just your average monster of the week.


One of the lazy bits of this story and the only thing that really bothered me was the romantic sub-plot between the supporting characters that felt shoehorned in and stopped the adequate pace of the story.


Rating this story: 8.5/10. A very satisfying end to an up and down trilogy.

Doctor Who: Shield of the J├Âtunn is available to buy on CD or Download on the official Big Finish website

Note: If you liked this review, please like and share it. If you’re interested in getting into Big Finish or want suggestions on which stories are great, check out my ranking of them HERE

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