Showing posts with label 2nd Doctor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2nd Doctor. Show all posts

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Review - Doctor Who: The Glorious Revolution


Doctor Who: The Glorious Revolution
The Companion Chronicles 4.02
Written by: Jonathan Morris
Directed by: Nigel Fairs
Performed by: Frazer Hines & Andrew Fettes
Duration:
 60 mins approx
ISBN: 978-1-84435-425-2
Chronology Placement: Between The Seeds of Death and The Space Pirates

One of Big Finish's most popular Doctor Who audio ranges is The Companion Chronicles, which focuses primarily on the adventures of the first three Doctors, as these Doctors are no longer with us. Rather than full-cast audio dramas, these adventures take the form of a two-person performance, with one of the Doctor's companions narrating an "unseen" adventure and a second supporting character taking part at times to add some variation and prevent it from becoming a monologue. They also tend to be shorter than the Big Finish's full-cast audios, typically with two half hour episodes on one CD.

Every Doctor Who fan has their ideal TARDIS line-up of Doctor and companions and for me it would have to be the team of the Second Doctor, Jamie and Zoe as seen “The Wheel in Space” up until the final black and white serial, “The War Games”. Watching those classic adventures is such great fun, as Patrick Troughton and Frazer Hines share such wonderful chemistry as two chums journeying through time and space together – it comes as no surprise to discover that Hines and Troughton were good friends off-screen too, but the right delight is Hines’ pitch-perfect impersonation of the late Troughton as the Doctor. With this Companion Chronicle, writer Jonathan Morris investigates Jamie’s life after he was forcibly removed from the Doctor’s company by the Time Lords in “The War Games” and had his memory wiped clean. Back in the 18th Century, Jamie married Kirsty McLaren – a guest character seen in his debut serial, “The Highlanders” and had a huge family of children and grandchildren – blissfully unaware that he was missing memories of his time with the Doctor.

Morris’ tale quickly addresses this plot point by having a Time Lord from the Celestial Intervention Agency come to 18th Century Earth and remove the memory locks from Jamie’s mind. It was great to hear Jamie regaining his memories as they came flooding back, and Hines’ performance was simply fantastic. However, I was slightly disappointed that this Companion Chronicle chose to reverse the decision before its end – although considering that Jamie appears in more Doctor Who audio books in the Big Finish range, I’m assuming he gets his memories back on a permanent basis at some point. Andrew Fettes does a fantastic job as ‘The Visitor’, capturing the pompous nature of the Time Lords as he addresses a primitive mind to his own. Fettes also plays the character of King James II within the flashback sequence of the story, giving the story a feel of a full-cast drama even though it only features two performers.

The script plays about with the central conceit of having a companion retell one of their adventures with the Doctor by having events in the past directly influencing the events in the future as Jamie’s actions create an alternate future, much like Biff Tannen in Back to the Future – Part II. However, being Doctor Who, things get a bit 'timey-wimey' and the past, present and future collide with surprising results. I quite like this experimental approach to the whole Companion Chronicle formula, as writers attempt to make the framing sequences into something more valid and important than a simple introduction to an extended monologue. Here, Morris ties his framing device into his cliff-hanger, making for a very engaging two-part storyline.

I have to admit that the period of history in which the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe visit in this story was one that I hadn’t heard much of – the Glorious Revolution took place during 1688 and saw King James II overthrown from his crown and replaced by William III and his wife Mary II of England. As I listened, I did look up the event online, but I needn’t have bothered as Morris ensures that the character’s explain the importance of events through dialogue, so those listeners as aware of the event as myself could keep up to pace with things. With the heavier emphasis on science-fiction and monsters in Doctor Who nowadays, it was actually quite refreshing to listen to a historically-themed serial without some man in a rubber suit threatening our heroes. This one of the things that Big Finish manages really well, creating adventures that feel tonally accurate to the era in which they are set. This genuinely feels like a lost Second Doctor adventure, thanks to the excellent script and Frazer Hines’ superb re-enactment of both Jamie McCrimmon and the Second Doctor’s voices.

Overall, this was a solid Companion Chronicles adventure that felt authentic to the Second Doctor era and featured some top-class voice acting from both leads. Fans of historical serials should definitely check out this adventure as it focuses on an event seldom explored and you might find yourself learning about a whole new period of English history, like I did.


The Glorious Revolution can be ordered on CD and Download from BigFinish.com or available externally from Amazon.co.uk

Score - 9.0 out of 10

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Review - Doctor Who: Fear of the Daleks


Doctor Who: Fear of the Daleks
The Companion Chronicles 1.02
Written by: Patrick Chapman
Directed by: Mark J Thompson
Performed by: Wendy Padbury & Nicholas Briggs
Duration:
 60 mins approx
ISBN: 978-1-84435-264-7
Chronology Placement: Between The Wheel in Space and The Dominators

One of Big Finish's most popular Doctor Who audio ranges is The Companion Chronicles, which focuses primarily on the adventures of the first three Doctors, as these Doctors are no longer with us. Rather than full-cast audio dramas, these adventures take the form of a two-person performance, with one of the Doctor's companions narrating an "unseen" adventure and a second supporting character taking part at times to add some variation and prevent it from becoming a monologue. They also tend to be shorter than the Big Finish's full-cast audios, typically with two half hour episodes on one CD.

I was particularly looking forward to this adventure for two reasons; firstly, it featured the return of one of my favourite companions from the classic series: Zoe Heriot. Her partnership with Jamie McCrimmon and the Second Doctor was quite possibly the best TARDIS combination I've seen yet, with all three characters working well together. The second reason was that it featured the Daleks who, despite their overuse, still manage to be one of my favourite villains from the series. The framing sequence for this audio adventure takes place in the future with an older Zoe recalling her memories of travelling with the Doctor and Jamie in the TARDIS, which were supposedly wiped away by the Time Lords at the conclusion of “The War Games” as punishment for the Doctor's escape from Gallifrey. However, it seems that all these years later, her eidetic memory has been working against their mind-wipe and fragments of her adventures are coming back to her through dreams, including her untold encounter with the Daleks whom she never met on-screen.

In terms of when the story recounted is set, it is fairly easy to place as there is some overlap with the end of “The Wheel in Space” when Zoe stows away on the TARDIS, and then this adventure seems to take place before the next televised adventure, “The Dominators”. I liked the way that the writer, Patrick Chapman, tied Zoe's encounter with the Daleks in with her first glimpse of them on the Doctor's thought projector, as well as addressing the naivety Doctor's statement at the end of “The Evil of the Daleks” where he claimed the creatures had “met their final end”. Considering how they also reappeared after the Time War, he really should learn not to brand them as extinct, as it often backfires.

Arriving on the asteroid Lavonnia, which has a city built into it underneath a “blister like dome”, the TARDIS crew discover that there are peace talks occurring between the humanoid Zantha Empire and the more amphibian Tibari Republic. The description of the marketplace and various alien creatures within it made me imagine a cross between the market in “The Rings of Akhaten” and the troll market from Hellboy II: The Golden Army. It isn't long before the TARDIS gang are noticed and become embroiled in a plot to disrupt the peace talks. The main villain of the piece, Professor Atrekar, reminds me of Mavic Chen from “The Daleks' Master Plan” in as much as he is yet another pawn in a Dalek scheme who thinks he can outsmart the deadly creatures and use them to achieve his own domination.

Despite their appearance on the cover and name in the title, the Daleks aren't the main focus of this adventure, only really making themselves known at the close of the initial episode to deliver a thrilling, but somewhat predictable “exterminate” cliff-hanger, and then as spectral pursuers during the second half. Elements of the story definitely fit into the Second Doctor's era of the show, especially the focus on Zoe and the astral projection scenes. I can almost imagine Wendy Padbury and Patrick Troughton in black and white, amidst a low-budget BBC space-station set, as they attempt to prevent the assassination of the Tibari Prime Minister. It feels very much in line with that era's “low-tech” storytelling approach, using dramatic suspense instead of showy action sequences and special effects.

In terms of performances, Wendy Padbury ably manages to return back to her “Zoe voice” and even attempts a Doctor and Jamie impression – capturing the tone of their personalities, rather than acting as an accurate recreation of their voices, which is understandable considering the difference in gender. I appreciated the effort in altering her voice when reading their dialogue to make it more distinctive and easier to follow, especially since she had the lion’s share of the narration as the story’s second narrator was Nicholas Briggs as the Daleks, bringing with him the same iconic voice that he has implemented on the characters since the series’ 2005 revival. As one of the least verbose enemies in the cosmos, this left Wendy with the majority of the air time, which she managed to command effortlessly, holding the viewer’s attention throughout. One minor nitpick was the over-the-top dramatic music that punctuated some of the scenes, which ended up removing me from Zoe's retelling of the story, however, as I became more engrossed in the tale, this seemed to subside, or feel less prominent.

Overall, this was a great Companion Chronicle, and as the second story in the range, it must have served as an excellent glimpse into the potential of the series, showcasing both untold stories of the early Doctors, as well as offering a peek into the lives of the companions after they've departed the Doctor. Out of all the departed companions, I think Jamie and Zoe certainly have the most scope for dramatic framing sequences as they try to recall their time with the Doctor, in fact, I’m aware that a later series of Companion Chronicle stories form a trilogy featuring Zoe attempting to overcome the Time Lord’s block on her memories, so I look forward to listening to that soon. The highest compliment I could pay the story is that it truly feels like an authentic lost story, however, the Daleks did feel slightly out of place as the antagonists in this assassination scheme, which felt a bit too “cloak and dagger” compared to their usual techniques.

Fear of the Daleks can be ordered on CD and Download from BigFinish.com or available externally from Amazon.co.uk

Score - 8.8 out of 10

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