Doctor Who: The Star Men Review

DW The Star Men

The Main Range reaches a new milestone as The Star Men kicks off a Fifth Doctor trilogy staring Matthew Waterhouse reprising his role as Adric for the first time in the long-running range. As if that wasn’t good enough, the story itself is good too! Handy. Let’s take a look…

Official Synopsis:

Astronomical navigation is a tricky business. To help Adric with his studies, the Doctor sets course for Gallius Ultima – a planet on the edge of the Milky Way, housing one of the most impressive observatories ever constructed.

But the TARDIS arrives to find Gallius U in a state of emergency, tracking the return of the Explorer-class ship Johannes Kepler from its mission into the heart of the mysterious Large Magellanic Cloud. A mission that met with disaster…

To find out what overtook the crew of the Johannes Kepler, the Doctor and his companions must journey into the heart of the Cloud… and beyond, into the darkness of another reality altogether. The universe of the Star Men.

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

The Doctor (Peter Davison) – Laidback and calm, if not occasionally sarcastic, the Fifth incarnation of the Doctor has his hands full with three companions running around his TARDIS, let alone the Universe-level threat from the Star Men…

Adric (Matthew Waterhouse)Often bratty and arrogant, Adric is thankfully “out of character” here, and is actually used well… despite sounding mysteriously older…

Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) – The last surviving member of the Traken race, Nyssa tends to blissfully wander around and occasionally explain things when The Doctor isn’t around… Doesn’t do much else…

Tegan (Janet Fielding)Australian air stewardess who accidentally wound up on board the TARDIS and has been complaining ever since. Maybe The Doctor will take her back to her proper place and time, then maybe she can stop wearing the same outfit…

Kala Trace (Sue Holderness)Head of the Gallius U’s operations and has the unenviable task of dealing with zombie-like crewmates, aliens from other universes and The Doctor and three overly curious companions…

Autumn Trace (Sophie Wu)The daughter of Kala and a bit of a genius, at least that’s what she thought until she met Adric, who she soon falls for, somehow…

The Star MenActually known to themselves as the Keltin, they wish to enter “our” universe in order to absorb the “solonium” needed to keep their race’s core alive now that their native universe has been all but sucked dry.

Plus more!

The Good:

DW The Star Men cover

A cover that I keep seeing new bits on every time I see it. Great work, as always!

The four-person TARDIS crew can be a blessing or a curse, depending on the writer. Here is more the former than the latter, as they are soon split into two (Adric and Nyssa, and The Doctor and Tegan) and then later split into four, before slowly reuniting again. All four get to at least do something and effect the plot at various times, and even Adric has a believable love story! I mean, how unlikely was that a few years ago?

I really enjoyed the Keltin, or Star Men. At first it was just old crew members coming back to life in a zombie state due to “red coral”, but soon they appear in earnest as a well-voiced “we’re better than you” style alien. Being from another universe, I liked how they were perceived (and named) as Star Men because they just looked like the rough outline of a man with star-like effects due to the people of this universe not being able to correctly see them.

There were some extra things as well. The race that was enslaved by the Star Men and the freed slave who, with the Doctor’s assistance, helped the rest of his people were interesting additions, and the lizard-like alien from the Star Men’s universe who was the last of his kind, living on a nearly pitch black world was a great visual (and again, gave something for Tegan to do… as in talk to and stuff, not do… Oh God, never mind!)

When Adric’s love Autumn was killed and he asked The Doctor to use his time machine to go back and save her, The Doctor’s response being the same line he’ll use to Nyssa and Tegan when Adric himself dies later in the actual TV series was a great scene, without too much “nudge-nudge, wink-wink”.

The Bad:

Not a lot, really. The thing is with well-written and acted audios is there isn’t any visuals to complain about, no bad effects or anything like that, so when a story is good and the actors are good and motivated, it’s hard to come up with anything.

The only thing I really had a problem with was the first part, with the old crew members coming back covered in the red coral and then being reanimated as mind controlled zombies was a bit unoriginal, and I thought it was going to be generic military types against zombie-things, but of course that turned out not to be the case at all, so… *shrug*

The Continuity:

Beyond the parallels to Adric’s death in the TV serial “Earthshock”, there wasn’t much beyond classic catchphrases and references to character’s home worlds and such.

Overall Thoughts:

This was a great two hour ride. Started off localised, then by the end it was spanning several galaxies and even universes, yet I never got lost or confused. It was top-notch sci-fi, and somehow the whole cast was well served, despite being so large at this point in Who history. Top marks!

5 Star Listen

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