September 2002This story has taken me a lot to get into, that's why I have taken so long to get around to reviewing it.
I like the clip voice-overs!, I understand that is a homage to the way the original series was shown in the USA (I would really like to see some of them, they should put clips on the DVD's!)
Problem mainly with the sound on the CD, the background music drowns out the actors most of the time, I can't tell what the characters are saying - I can never tell what Susie-Jo is saying :)
I like the idea of the tickets programming Susie-Jo's and Kevin's mind to assassinate the Doctor, that was fun. Also liked the villain who is obsessed with cutting peoples heads off, that was very amusing!
Overall, the sound problems have plagued this release, making it very difficult for me to follow, but the underlying story is okay.
June 2005Mindmask brings quite a few interesting things to the proverbial table. First of all, we get a spiffy homage to the episode introductions narrated by Howard DaSilva for the first American run of Tom Baker episodes. The DaSilva intros were intended to help the poor Americans keep up with the intricate plotlines of such classics as The Sontaran Experiment and The Brain of Morbius. These introductions, classically camp by nature, were dignified by DaSilva's expert elocution; the DWAD homage, written and executed perfectly, exactly captured the feel of the original DaSilva introductions.
Next, we get the return of companion Kevin. Yay, Kevin! I’ve praised the chemistry between David Segal’s Doctor and Steven Tyler’s Kevin in other reviews; suffice it to say that yet again we are shown a friendship that goes beyond the typical Doctor-companion relationship.
Susie Jo Parker is back in her first full adventure as the Doctor’s companion. The question as to whether a mute character can successfully serve as a continuing character in an audio drama series is not completely answered in this story; though she works out here better than one might expect, it remains to be seen if she can develop as a character without being able to deliver her own lines. (The line about the Catholic priest got a chuckle out of me, even though it was repeated from The Brown Death.)
And that song! The three-minute-plus musical number contained in the first episode really threw me the first time I listened to that episode. I can recall glancing periodically at my CD player, wondering what in the world was going on, why the musical interlude was going on for so long. Still, since then, I’ve gotten a bit attached to that tune (the same one that’s used as theme music for the DWAD “TimeTalk” series), so I won’t complain too much.
We also get to meet the Zylons! All previous stories featuring the DWAD addition to the lineup of Doctor Who villains are unavailable, and this absence remains a disappointment, as the Zylons are pretty cool bad guys. Unfortunately, this story isn’t the best introduction for the Zylons. Explaining this in detail would serve as a spoiler, so let it suffice to say that in Mindmask, just about any alien race in the Doctor’s “Rogues’ Gallery” could have substituted for the Zylons without a second thought.
This is not to dismiss the plot of this story. It has some interesting points to ponder about technology and its role in both improving the mind and imprisoning the soul. How many of our present-day debates center around the double-edged sword of various technologies…from television and video games to genetic research. An offhand comment by the Doctor, that mindmasking would play a role in the End Times, may be a reference to Christian apocalyptic theory, but it refers equally well to the role of technology in the eventual--some might say inevitable--decline and fall of western civilization.
So, in summary, while Mindmask is still primitive technically and has some flaws, it is lifted up by reasonably solid acting and a message that will remain relevant as long as humankind struggles with the various quandaries that come hand-in-hand with advances in science and technology.
Mindmask is a difficult audio to give a fair review of, mainly because it's very hard to work out what is happening. Too often the dialogue was drowned out by the sound effects, especially when the arcade machines totally overwhelmed all other sound in the first episode.
The story, or what can be heard of it, seems to be well told, and the dialogue is often first rate. Again we are given scenes of great character interplay between the Doctor and a companion, in this case Kevin. The question of whether a mute companion can work in an audio is still unanswered though, as Susie Jo has very little to do in this audio.
This is my first taste of the Zylons (no pun intended) and I'm still reserving judgment on them at this stage. The character of John is a little bit superficial at times, and the dialogue when he reveals his plans is too repetitive and not as dramatic as I believe the writer would have wanted it to be.
The story meanders a great deal, and one section in particular (when the Doctor and Kevin are trying to get through the levels) doesn't work as well as it perhaps could do, ending up more confusing than it needs to be.
All in all, this story is the weakest of the three I've listened to so far, though better sound quality could have given it a bit more of an impact. I'm onto The Changing next, and after enjoying Brown Death am looking forward to listening to another audio written by Mr Himinez
Mindmask, a three-segment audio drama from The Doctor Who Audio Dramas, is a good little tale, all told. While it did suffer from some minor problems such as the music or sound effects sometimes drowning out lines, on the whole, it wasn’t half bad.
I found that the villain of the piece, John the Zylon (not the most inspired name), was really not as effective as he ought to have been. At some points I thought it could easily be some other alien. Heck, if the new series had been around at the time it could have been the most recent Master instead. He is always hungry after his revival in The End of Time…
I enjoyed the story’s premise, however. A villain controlling the minds of the good Doctor’s companions to get the TARDIS was rather inspired on the author’s part. I am also fascinated by the idea behind one of the aliens identified in the story, the Balsic. While sounding alarmingly close to a slang term for a certain part of the male anatomy I will not name here for obvious reasons, the idea that they do not leave their planet for any reason whatsoever is fascinating. It makes you wonder why.
However, the three-minute-long musical number in segment one is rather inexcusable. I was shocked that this was allowed. This is far too excessive. It completely throws off the story’s flow and, quite frankly, a modern person would probably not want to listen to bright 80’s synthesized music. Did the author just need to pad out the episode?
etting back the positive aspects of the story, the part in segment three where the Doctor & Kevin are thrown into the… Death Maze, was it? Well, that was very good. It took me until the part when Kevin started to go hungry that I realized it was just like Pokemon Mystery Dungeon! The premise of having to clear a dungeon before you die of starvation, fighting monsters along the way, is very good. Excellent fodder for a game, as it has been used, and maybe a Doctor Who short story… Hmmm, I wonder.
I also felt that John should have been thrown to the mob at the end and met a gruesome end. But maybe that was just my evil side talking. For what John did, it seems fitting… Besides that, the next time trailer of sorts for the next story, The Comet Empire, is of particular interest. Maybe that should be the next story restored? Maybe resurrect Channel Two briefly?
All-in-all, I feel that Mindmask isn’t a bad story if you have some time and nothing better to do. Or if you’re a person who has to listen to everything Doctor Who. You people know who you are. Ha! Anyway, I wouldn’t actively recommend this story but I wouldn’t tell people to avoid it, either. Everything deserves at least one listen. Who knows, you may have been wrong on your pre-conceived notions of it.
Last updated: Friday, May 21, 2010