Tuesday, 12 January 2016
REVIEW – THE WATERS OF AMSTERDAM
Big Finish kicks off 2016 with the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan!
The Waters of Amsterdam has quite a lot going for it which makes it a great story to start off the New Year. Taking place seconds after Arc of Infinity, the TARDIS team face off with the Nix, aliens made up of sentient water. Sounds familiar right?
Well abandon any “knock-off’ notions you made have as the Nix are not a discount-Flood. That won't stop you from undoubtedly drawing comparisons between this story and The Waters of Mars because of the unique alien presence, but The Waters of Amsterdam is a completely different story for you to sink your teeth into.
One of the absolute highlights of this story is Richard James’ Rembrandt (yes, that Rembrandt). Doctor Who has a long standing tradition of really biting into the background of their historical guest stars and Rembrandt is no different. His characterization and especially his scenes with Nyssa will open the flood gates. The Feels are real!
I praise the sound engineer for doing a smashing job rendering this story. It’s so easy to visualize the setting and the goings-on, so much so that this story (as with many of peter Davison’s) falls into that special category of stories I wish we could’ve seen on television. Unfortunately, I’m not so sure how remarkable these visuals would’ve been in 1983, but if this story was made in 2016, it would be one of the best cinematographically speaking.
Save for a bump I’ll get into later, The Waters of Amsterdam has fantastic pacing. It also has enough plot twists and turns to keep the story engaging from start to finish.
This story has a double-edged sword element though. Episode one spends almost the whole episode setting up/explaining what Tegan was up during the time she spent away from the Doctor and Nyssa and while these scenes are dealt with quite realistically, it does have the potential to put people off. Don’t misunderstand: These scenes are important, they just happen to feel like they’re delaying the plot. This is especially true for Tegan-haters. I mean I love the Aussie Motor Mouth, but even I felt like it was a little too much by the fifteen minute mark. I did grow to appreciate these scenes though as the story progressed and showed us how these plot strands from before tie together, but I still believe episode one to be the weakest of the four and will be pretty decisive among fans.
Onto the ending! I won’t spoil anything – though we all know Tegan rejoins the TARDIS since we’ve seen Snakedance – no - what I’m talking about is Big Finish almost breaking their own continuity which is always off-putting. Longtime fans of Big Finish will know that there is a collection of solo-Fifth Doctor Stories set after Arc of Infinity (Omega, plus any other solo story). While listening to this story and realizing that it takes places minutes after Arc of Infinity, I was worried Big Finish might’ve forgotten this little continuity detail, BUT THEY DIDN’T!!
I won’t tell you what, why or how, but if you’re worried about continuity then don’t be. It all fits together nicely!
Doctor Who: The Waters of Amsterdam is available on Big Finish's website HERE.
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