Doctor Who Appreciation Society
Cosmic Fugue 2

Presented by Louise Jameson.
Read by Colin Baker, Wendy Padbury, Elizabeth Sladen, Caroline John and Louise Jameson.

Synopsis: An audio collection of short stories for charity


A Review by Stuart Gutteridge 20/6/99

Available via the Doctor Who Appreciation Society, the fact that proceeds from this audio release go to HOPE (for orphaned Romanian children) and The Meningitis Trust should be reason enough to buy this. If it isn`t, then the multitude of Doctor Who stars reading should be.

The opening tale, The Lake Of Possibilities by Nick Walters is an origins tale and tells exactly where The Valeyard came from. Colin Baker`s reading is a joy to listen to, as we are spared several of his accents, with only three characters in the tale. He effortlessly slips back into the role of The Doctor, although the tale would`ve worked better in the McCoy era. Nick Walters writing tends to be more descriptive, and the story benefits froms this.

The Blinovitch Link by Barry Letts takes the form of a telephone call between Sarah Jane Smith and a caller from the future. Boasting new ideas, this works all the better because it is set in the present day, and due to Elisabeth Sladen, because she is in character as Sarah, and is a character that can be easily identified with. The simplistic effects also benefit the story, although the absence of K-9 doesn`t go unnoticed.

Help At A Stroke by Steven Wickham is more of an interlude than a short story, but is a welcome diversion, introducing as it does new French companion Pierre. Unfortunately being an artist and French seems somewhat cliched, and Colin Baker`s French accent is variable, even for something of this length, which runs for less than five minutes in total.

The Rain Machine is Nick Walters` second offering, and is read by Caroline John. Here Liz Shaw is back at university (although still working for UNIT), where she becomes involved with a scientists desire, to create a machine that makes it rain, with unfortunate side effects. Unlike other stories, the featured aliens are not intent on world domination, but are not given enough time to become as sympathetic as the Silurians for example; instead they are simply aliens, who bear more than a slight resemblance to the Krynoids. Caroline John`s reading is largely a joy to behold, as she breathes new life into Liz, but her rendition of the Brigadier is terrible, and it is fortunate that he isn`t in the tale for very long. Perhaps what is most satisfying is the conclusion, which doesn`t rely on explosions, as so many Doctor Who tales did.

Slings And Arrows opens the second cassette, and is something quite clever, if a little short. Read, (or should that be recited?) by Colin Baker, it is an early draft of Hamlet, (using all things Doctor Who as a basis for it), written by both William Shakespeare and The Doctor. Experimental in nature it works well, but could`ve done with being longer to really make something of it.

Zoe Does It by Crispin Brigham, is another tale which gives the lead character to shine. Wendy Padbury is an absolute joy to listen to, and the characterisation of Zoe is particularly strong. The story sees her searching for part of a crashed spaceship, after the TARDIS recieves a distress call. As with The Rain Machine, it works because the story chooses to concentrate on developing Zoe. The only thing that lets it down, is that it isn`t typical of the era, but then again why should it be?

A report of the first Doctor Who Ball forms the basis of Tomorrows Time`s. A clever play on words using names such as Meg Loss and Sir Vival,as some of the guests in attendance. Colin Baker`s reading is at its best here, as he plays narrator adeptly and with ease. Diverting and mildly amusing, Tomorrow`s Times is best taken for what it basically is, an interlude, nothing more or less.

Savage is the final tale and is read by presenter Louise Jameson. Established author Gary Russell`s tale is one of Leela`s life on Gallifrey, after she leaves The Doctor. As expected,Gary Russell pays a great deal of attention to continuity, with references to orange skies, and characters such as Maxil and Thalia. What is most interesting is how she copes both with Time Lord society, and being unable to kill, and the story in itself being relevant to current affairs; and is best seen as a tale of ethnic clensing (several of the outsiders are killed). Louise Jameson gives a thoroughly enjoyable reading, adding subtle touches to the parts where necessary, and Leela`s characteristics in places, without going over the top.

So to summarise, Cosmic Fugue 2 is definitely recommended, because it gives the companions a chance to shine, because the experimental pieces work, and don`t seem out of place alongside the more traditional works. But mostly because, if this is anything to go by (whilst not being a play), if the future of Doctor Who lies in audio format, then the future is in safe hands.