Monday, 14 February 2011

Doctor Who: The Runaway Train – reviewed

"Farmland? Do I look like a landowner? I live in a blue box, for goodness' sake!" roars the Doctor at a would-be employee, the story capturing from the off the eleventh Doctor's particular brand of oddness. He might need a bit of help digging up an alien artefact, but "that is hardly a job that merits a farmland-based reward!" Matt Smith gets some lovely dialogue to work with in this Wild West audio adventure and throws himself into it with glee. It's unfinished railroads, Confederates and Yankees, and alien McGuffins, giving Smith the chance to try his hand at several accents, with more than decent results. I confess to a peculiar fondness for his version of Amy Pond, sounding as it does so very much like Sylvester McCoy.

I never feel qualified to comment on the quality of Doctor Who stories since I believe, on a fundamental level, that any story featuring the Doctor is by definition better than one that does not. But even through rose-tinted glasses this seems like a good one. The Doctor has lots of fun, Amy gets a good slice of the action, and the adventure is topped and tailed by the kind of timeline tricksiness that is very much a part of the current era. Readers with children may be encouraged to learn that the story doesn't have quite the ominous – nay, terrifying! – tone of many Who audio adventures: for once my youngest got all the way through without asking for a change of CD. Overall, a good story told with infectious enthusiasm.

Doctor Who: The Runaway Train, by Oli Smith, read by Matt Smith, BBC Audio, 1xCD, 65 mins. Amazon US. Amazon UK.

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