The Isos Network Review

The Isos NetworkThe Second Doctor against the Cybermen. It’s a match made in heaven. One of my favourite Doctor/Villain combinations, but will this Early Adventure from Big Finish be in need of an upgrade or will it be superior to my expectations?

Synopsis
The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe are leaving Earth after having successfully defeated a Cyberman invasion… The Cyber-fleet is still exploding… But something is escaping through the mass of vaporising debris.
In hot pursuit, the Doctor and his friends find themselves drawn to a mysterious planet where strange beasts slither through the streets of a deserted city… And an old enemy lurks beneath the streets.
As a force of heavily-armed aliens arrives, a battle to save the entire galaxy from invasion begins.

Review
You know you’re in safe hands when you’re listening to a Big Finish release when it’s Nick Briggs at the helm; both writing and appearing in the story. Luckily for me, Briggs has decided to take on a new story of the Second Doctor and the Cybermen. The opening of this four, half-hour parted story is a lot more lighthearted than I anticipated; I can wholeheartedly say that I didn’t expect the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe to be riding around on elephant-sized slugs having the time of their lives. It was ridiculous and sub(-s)lime  (I’m sorry, I think that’s the worst pun I have ever put on this site) and extremely Doctor Who.

Frazer Hines, who played Jamie McCrimmon back in the late ’60s has the most strenuous job in these Early Adventures, taking on dual roles of both the Second Doctor, impersonating the late Patrick Troughton extremely well, as well as Jamie. It’s a great task to have conversations exclusively with yourself, but luckily, the editors make it seem so seamless and natural. Wendy Padbury also reprises her role as Zoe so naturally, it’s almost like she’s never stopped playing the part, despite her leaving the show almost 47 years ago.

The first episode of The Isos Network is very much a tale of mystery; with the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe on a beautiful, technologically advanced but deserted planet, looking for any sign of either the planet’s inhabitants or the single Cyber Escape Ship that seemed to escape the mass destruction that happened at the end of The Tomb of The Cybermen. The cliffhanger at the end of the first episode is such a typical Classic-Who cliffhanger, matched with a great classic sounding score.

Episode Two picks up exactly where the previous episode left off, becoming less of a mystery and more of a three stranded story, with the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe being split up from one another. The strand of the story that interested me most had to be Zoe’s, who uncovers a tragic secret regarding the city. Jamie’s strand is also captivating, being much more adventurous than either Zoe’s or the Doctor’s, using with the giant slugs to his advantage to destroy the Cybermen.

The second episode is when Nicholas Brigg’s vocal talents come into play; as he portrayal of the ’60s Cybermen is almost perfect; before listening to this story I was slightly worried that his portrayal may sound more like the New-Who Cybermen, whom Briggs voices in the TV show, than the more sing-song style of the older Cybermen.

The third episode raises the stakes and reunites Jamie with the Doctor as they try and destroy the Cyberman threat. For me, I thought that the penultimate episode was a lot more action packed than the other two, keeping in lieu with the formatting of the Classic-Who stories; having a few episodes of build up, followed by a more action packed, blockbuster style episode. The slugs and the Isons against the Cybermen sounded like a great battle, using Wendy Padbury’s narration adding extra detail to the fight. These sort of scenes are the ones that really showcase how well Nicholas Briggs can write an extremely descriptive story.

Personally, I thought that the ending of the third episode had the best cliffhanger of the entire story; I’m just glad that unlike TV episodes, Big Finish’s cliffhangers don’t normally have to last longer than a few seconds if you have the free time.

The final episode of a Classic-Who story is normally a culmination of everything we’ve previously had in the preceding episodes; this is still the case in The Isos Network. An epic battle between the Isons and the Slugs against the Cybermen comes to a temporary stalemate, the Doctor doing what he does best and trying to talk his way out of any more violence ensuing. The fourth episode to me showcases exactly who the Doctor should be; an intermediary against killing and chaos when possible.

I don’t want to ruin the ending of the story for anyone who is going to listen to The Isos Network in the future, but Hilsee is such a tragic hero, battling on until the very end. I would really like to hear more from Hilsee in the future, as I think that he is such a unique an interesting character that has the potential to be developed even more. Luckily for me, in the universe of Doctor Who, anything is possible.

Sadly, this is the last release in the Early Adventures range until September, and the end of the Early Adventures second series. I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed The Isos Network; and if this is the only celebration from any official Doctor Who channel for the Cybermen’s 50th anniversary year, than I can safely say it has not disappointed in the slightest.

Rating
The rating system on the Gallifrey Archive is achieved on a scale of 1-10.
For The Isos Network, I will give a rating of:

9.5

Should you want to purchase The Isos Network, click here to be taken to the Big Finish website. The Isos Network is £10.99 for the download and £14.99 for the CD.

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