Latest Doctor Who companion chronicle. These are a range of talking books which see an actor who played a companion to the Doctor on TV return to their role to read an all new story for their character.
The usual format is for a two part story, complete on one cd. With two episodes that run from twenty five to thirty minutes. And the actor to narrate and do all the voices save one, which is done by a guest actor.
This one sees Caroline John return to the role of Liz Shaw, whom she played opposite Jon Pertwee's Doctor back in 1970.
And it doesn't quite follow the aforementioned usual format. Because whilst it does have two episodes of twenty six minutes each [approx] it's full cast audio drama rather than narration.
The story is set post Liz's final appearance in the tv show - she was written out with a quick line of dialogue in the next story, and we never actually saw her leave UNIT - and it involves her having been sent by UNIT to help repair an alien computer that ha come into their possession.
Liz is feeling tired of having to play second fiddle to the Doctor. And of the Brigadier's attitude to scientists. And all the secrecy that goes with the organisation. All of which is getting in the way of her scientific curiosity and delight in dicovery. All the secrecy means that she's having to keep this particular project from the Doctor.
But she has a bigger problem. Because those guarding the machine are vanishing. Then she does as well. She finds herself trapped inside the computer [this is not a spoiler. It does say it on the back of the box] and has to fight to survive....
This being full cast drama rather than narration does make it feel interestingly different from the usual entries in this range. In addition to Liz there are only two other speaking roles, but that works fine as it makes it all feel quite close and immediate.
Whilst the things that are getting Liz down are brought in slightly unsubtly early on this does then offer the counterpoint of view and make her impending decisions on her future not quite such as an easy matter, so that never gets too annoying.
A fair amount of suspension of disbelief is required for the scenes in the computer as audio can't quite convey the setting, having to rely on strange sounds more than anything. But that's also only a minor complaint.
This does develop well, though, and have some good twists and turns in part two that make the whole thing more than it may initially seem. As with many companion chronicles the events of the story do allow for the main character to have an epiphany by the end. But that doesn't play out quite how you may expect. Which is good.
And as a piece of audio cast drama, it is well played and well written.
Some clever lines of dialogue in regards to technology do firmly set the thing at the time the tv stories featuring Liz were made [which is easier to say than when the UNIT stories were set. Let's not get into that!] which is a nice touch as well.
So this is a somewhat above average entry in this range, and well worth a listen.
There is a trailer for the next release in this range on the cd track after the end of part two.
And just over ten minutes worth of interviews with cast and crew on the track after that.