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This is the official blog of Phoenix Roleplaying, a multi-genre simming site, created in August 2010.

Run by the players, we hope to achieve great things.

Where our journey takes us, who knows.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

A Literal Dog's Dinner, but not a metaphorical one (Twelve Faces of Who: "The Hounds of Artemis")

With the addition of another Doctor to the canon (if we get any extra works with the 'War Doctor', I will review them as part of this, but until then...) and another due at Christmas, I've now got twelve Doctors to look at in this series. The anniversary has seen a number of audios being aired on Radio 4 Extra, including "Protect and Survive", which I was planning to buy and two McGanns. The BBC have saved me some money.
Going ahead slightly to Matt Smith. As we approach the end of this Doctor's era and learn just how the Moff is going to deal with the twelve regenerations thingy (as they've all been used by by his own statement), it might be appropriate to go back to near the beginning of his time... when he was travelling with a Scottish strip... sorry, kissogram who hadn't yet gotten married. In reality, it's been sitting on my shelf for a couple of years and this series was an excuse to get it out of the way.

"The Hounds of Artemis" was intended to be the first Eleventh Doctor audiobook, but somehow got delayed by an entire year and ended up becoming the fourth. Having listened to it, it's not really got the quality to be the first in a new run...

Where we're at
Season 31, early Eleven. Just Amy and the Doctor - no Rory, indeed no mention of him at this point. Doctor Who Reference Guide sticks this before "The Time of Angels", but that's an arbitrary guess.


The Doctor and Amy Pond turn up in Smyrna, Turkey in 1929, just as an archeological expedition breaks open the fabled Tomb of Artemis... and unleashes some very nasty doggies.

"Artemis" breaks out a well-worn Doctor Who plot, a variant on the 'base under siege' one in fact - group of stereotypes opens ancient whatever and releases alien menace that then tries to a) kill them and b) get out into the wider universe. It goes back to "Tomb of the Cybermen" if not before and indeed, I've reviewed something in this vein previously. This can be done extremely well or extremely badly.

This one's particular take on the theme involves a bunch of British upper class folk getting glamoured by the illusion of a sumptious (and very English) dinner that turns out to be something much more unpleasant. Mary Whitehouse's "tea-time brutality for tots" comment does have some point to it. There is a good deal of content in the show that can give adults nightmares when you really think about it... "The Ark in Space" anyone?

The plot goes along pretty slowly, but that could have been the way I was listening to it, on and off over a couple of months. The atmosphere is ominous, the climax is strong and the way the monster is defeated is a good one, although it does rely on a certain character's unlikely choice of undergarment. I also wasn't too keen on the Turkish villagers,

The story itself is split up into two distinctive story-telling methods; a standard third-person narrative and a woman writing a letter to a museum, in which she reads extracts from Amy's diary. Now Amy is later established to be a published children's author and her early life probably involved prose fiction about "the Raggedy Doctor", much to her teacher's annoyance, I would imagine. I can get her writing a diary... but people do not write diaries while hiding behind a pillar on the run from evil creatures. Even Bram Stoker never did something like that in Dracula (worth reading if you've not already done so, BTW). This latter part gets seriously unconvincing.

Sound design
The late AudioGo did some great stuff with sound design on their audiobooks; this is not just someone doing some straight forward reading. There are rumbles, creaks and so on... with the book also featuring the opening and closing themes in use at the time.

The narrators

Matt Smith provides the primary prose narration and of course the voice of the Eleventh Doctor; turning in a strong performance (doing the other voices very well), but I'm not so sure about Clare Corbett, some woman I've never heard of who does Amy's diary and the letter writer. Not doing a great job at Karen Gillan's distinctively Scottish voice and otherwise uninspiring, she hasn't contributed much to the Whoniverse outside a few BBC Audio/AudioGo audios.


A good story, but badly damaged by an absurd plot device. It's also not the fastest thing in the world.

Final note

While I was listening to this, AudioGo discovered financial irregularities and shut down. While this doesn't affect BF, it could cause problems with other audiobooks in the pipeline.

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