Rewritten from material that I originally posted 6/28/13 on another forum:
Blurb: The Doctor, Jamie and Zoe find themselves on an almost deserted space lab. Earth Station 454 is being closed down, mothballed, its staff relocated. Years of research and co-operation are coming to an end and only distinguished xeno-botantist Professor Arnold Biggs remains on board.
But is there more to the closure than meets the eye? For the operation is being supervised by the Rosemariners of the planet Rosa Damascena. Their terrifying Commander, Rugosa, seems to have something to hide. Who is he? What do the Rosemariners want with the scientists? And what is the secret of Rosedream?
In a world where no one is quite what they seem, and deadly plants lurk around every corner, the Doctor will have to use all his ingenuity just to stay alive... just to stay himself.
Format: Limited-cast audio drama with narration. Adapted from an unmade television script. Published by Big Finish Productions and released September 2012.
Setting: Earth Station 454, sometime around the year 11,500 AD (the Black Death is said to have died out over 10,000 years ago).
Continuity: This story takes place between the Invasion and The Krotons. There is no direct onscreen reference to when this story occurs. However, Zoe's unfamiliarity with routine TARDIS systems would seem to imply an early date, so I placed this in the earliest gap that does not require a lot of work to make it work. There isn't enough evidence to state when this story occurs with respect to other stories set within the same gap. Both Zoe and Jamie remember meeting the Daleks (see Evil of the Daleks and Fear of the Daleks). Jamie's origins in 18th century Scotland are mentioned (see The Highlanders). The Doctor mentions that the Daleks were behind the mystery of the Marie Celeste (see The Chase). The Doctor also mentions that the Daleks created genetic experiments on the planet Kembel (see The Daleks Masterplan).
Canonicity Quotient: There are some problems with Kembel. The Doctor states that the Daleks created monstrous vegetation there, however, The Daleks Masterplan is clear that Kembel was already a dangerous place. The Daleks only imported the Varga plants, which they had grown on Skaro. Also, no explanation is given for how the Rosemariners could have come across the Rosa Toxicaera as Kembel was reduced to a desert world in the year 4000 and this takes place much later. 0.90
Discussion: I've been rosacrinated! I just had a very pleasant listen to this story. It's a shame that The Rosemariners was never made. It seems that it wasn't pitched until the Doctor Who production team had started working on season 7 and the story would obviously not have worked for an earthbound story. It saddens me that Tosh didn't try again with the later Pertwee years as with a few tweaks this story could have easily been adapted to fit into that era.
I do have to say that it is difficult for me to be completely impartial on a story that features David Warner. I imagine this is like what other commentators have stated for Peter Purves and how they have such fond memories associated with him in Blue Peter. As an American, I am primarily familiar with David Warner from his many appearances in film (Time Bandits, Tron) and television (Babylon 5, Star Trek: TNG) and as a voice actor in many of the animated series when I was growing up (Batman the Animated Series, Spiderman, Iron Man, Gargoyles). As a result anything that David Warner does gets an automatic +1 at least from me. Here his role was more subtle then what I'm used to but it was still that fantastic voice and he played the role of Biggs well. Fraser and Wendy still did a fantastic job. Wendy does a great Zoe. Sometimes her age shows but when she isn't narrating she does a great job of soundying higher and more perky. Fraser's Doctor continues to be outstanding and at times I forgot that I wasn't listening to Patrick Troughton. I also noted a bit more emotion and excitedness this time. As Fraser practices I have a feeling that we'll soon get this wonderful impression with all of Troughton's many facets. I would be remiss if I didn't also put in a word of praise for Clive Wood. I had no knowledge of him prior to this story but his voice was superb. He gave Warner a run for his money, which isn't an easy thing to do. Another consequence of this was that putting in a fourth actor made this closer to a full cast audio, which helped immensely in fleshing out this story and allowing more scenes of interaction. I was also very pleased that Donald Tosh was able to adapt his own story for audio. He is responsible for some of the best Doctor Who on record despite its having been mostly lost. He was the script editor on the Myth Makers and he wrote large portions of both the Daleks Masterplan and The Massacre. His work so clearly shows his familiarity with the era and everything is written in a way that it could have been done at the time. The fact that there's intriguing developments and a lot of great personal interaction shows that same skill with drama that Tosh already showed in the 60's.
I think that this one loses a few points based on how straightforward the story is. I was expecting some sort of twist but its all laid out in a pretty straightforward manner. Carniverous roses give off juice which makes people into slaves and they need an antidote. Prisoners have taken over the station and its actually the guards that are in the stupor but they want a cure just because a few of their comrades are in a stupor too. It seems like its missing a beat somewhere. I kept expecting that we were going to discover that the reason why Rugosa wanted a cure so badly is that the effects from the Rosa Toxicarus was having some sort of effect on him and possibly his men, perhaps changing them into crazed carniverous creatures. After all, I'm not sure why all the talk about roses providing the ichor that runs through them was mentioned or important except I guess to explain why they have a rosarium on a prison ship and why they'd collect a rose so deadly but that seems fairly weak. I was also a little confused as to why this prison was constantly referred to as a sattelite. That term is typically reserved for an installation in orbit around somewhere and if they're from another galaxy how could they have piloted it so far without being noticed and why would a satellite have the facility for interstellar travel in the first place, especially a prison satellite? You don't want any escaped convicts to get that far away would you? The other strange part was the constant references to a "code book" which sounds like something that would have been obsolete even in Zoe's time let alone in whatever era this story is set.
Still, in the end this story manages to surpass my few small problems with it based on an overall very great, dramatic script and with stellar performances from the regulars. David Warner's presence bumps this from 7/10 to 8/10 and that's where I'll leave it.
Final Rating: 8/10
Recommendation: Rosemariners is by no means a standard Doctor Who story. It's good and it has some excellent performances, perhaps heightening it to a level that the script alone wouldn't achieve. Still, Donald Tosh, responsible for some of the series best stories in the 60's comes forward with a good, action-adventure yarn that should keep you interested through its four episode length. I definitely recommend giving this one a listen.