The Doctor Who Ratings Guide: By Fans, For Fans

Dragons' Wrath (novel)
Big Finish
Dragons' Wrath
A Benny Audio Adventure

Author Paul Cornell Cover image
Adaptation Jac Rayner
Released 2001
Cover Jon Sullivan

Starring: Lisa Bowerman as Professor Bernice Summerfield
Special Guest Star: Richard Franklin as Nusek

Synopsis: Benny joins a team searching for the famed Gamalian Dragon... only she's already carrying it.


Dragons' Blahs by Peter Niemeyer 6/4/01

I hate to say it, but I wasn't wildly impressed with this production. I had a decent reaction to Birthright, but was somewhat disappointed with Just War. I was really hoping Dragons' Wrath would turn things around, and it didn't.

First off, the story somehow felt disjointed to me. I don't know if I can put my finger on what the problem was, but first we're on a dig, then we're in a courtroom, then we're confronting a megalomaniac. These transitions from one venue to a decidedly different one felt very abrupt, and although there was a single narrative throughout the story, I almost felt like I was watching The Keys of Marinus with all its self-contained adventures.

I also have to give a rather big thumbs-down to Richard Franklin's portrayal of Romolo Nusek. I don't know if it's fair to compare him to the other Who cast members who've done Benny (Nicolas Courtney's Wolsey, Sophie Aldred's Miranda, Anneke Will's Kitzinger, Lis Sladen's Lady Ninen or Colin Baker's Mikhail Popov), but I did. And Franklin is the bottom of the bunch. He fails to make Nusek interesting. Many of the lines were read with the wrong inflection. Nusek was supposed to be a charismatic figure who is capable of winning the support of the other warlods, which I found hard to believe giving Franklin's ranting delivery.

This was also the first Benny story to be released as a single CD. Fortunately, I don't think the shorter length (70 minutes as opposed to 110) was problematic. It's unfortunate that CDs like this and "The Secret of Cassandra" won't last for as long, but they're also cheaper. So, six of one...

Did I like anything about the story? Well, yes I suppose I did. There were plenty of twists and turns. And of course Lisa Bowerman did her typical outstanding job of bringing Benny to life. So, this wasn't what I'd call a "dreadful" CD. But, it was unsatisfying.

7 out of 10

Addendum: I just completed reading the Dragons' Wrath book, and I now understand some of my disappointment with the CD. Unlike Oh No It Isn't, which did a nice job of editing the book for the audio format, I think Dragons' Wrath was either not well adapted or not capable of being well adapted. One of my favorite characters, Braxiatel, was dropped from the story entirely, as were the stegodons (which were used to explain much of what Clyde was doing on Stanturus III). Also, the shift in scenes were certainly present in the book, but the book was able to make the transitions from Tharn to Stanturus III to the space station to Tharn more smooth. I suspect that this story was not a good choice for audio adaptation, and I'm glad that in the future Big Finish will be writing their Benny adventures specifically for audio.