It’s time for the first (proper) Seventh Doctor release in the Retro Reviews series, and we’re kicking off with “The Harvest”, wherein we are introduced to a new companion, and come face to face with the villainous Cybermen. This review will contain spoilers, so read on at your own risk.
What struck me first about this story was just how much it resembled a modern episode of Doctor Who. From the fast pace down to the music (brilliant work from David Darlington), The Harvest is like Russell T Davies’s era of the show before its time and this is part of what makes it such a success.
The story itself is incredibly compelling, following a group of surgeons who, in exchange for Cyber technology, are transplanting Cybermen into human bodies. The notion that some Cybermen would rather return to flesh than continue as steel giants is a brilliant one; you think that all the possible Cyberman stories have been done already, then this comes along! Brilliant!
Philip Olivier is immediately likeable as new companion Hex. We spend much of the first part getting to know him and learning about his life, and then he’s thrown in with the Doctor and Ace, with whom he immediately forms a formidable rapport. I can’t wait to hear more of his adventures with this team.
The Doctor is almost completely absent from the first episode, appearing in just two scenes. Instead, it is Ace who Hex meets first: a turn of events notable for more than just the fact that it’s against the status quo. Gone are the days of blowing things up and being rowdy; this Ace is more subdued and independent, the perfect progression from her TV persona.
That’s not to say this story is Doctor-lite. McCoy puts across a great performance as a darker Seventh Doctor, staying behind the scenes at times to manipulate events, then stepping up and getting involved.
All in all, The Harvest is a great story, both for its intriguing plot and its characterisation of new companion Hex. The sound design and music are on point throughout as well, making this another great instalment in the Hex/Evelyn arc.
The Harvest can be purchased on CD or as a download from http://www.bigfinish.com
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