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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 18 October 2015
This is another in the companion chronicles; in this instance Ian Chesterton tells a tale of when he, Barbara and Vicki, travelling with the First Doctor, are caught up in circumstances they could never have dreamed of. What should have been a pleasant and unexpected holiday on the planet Jobis becomes a nightmare when they are caught up in terrorism and piracy. And what can they, or the Doctor, do to save themselves or the planet?

This is one of the stand-out companion chronicles; the writing itself is so compelling that, together with the narrative supplied by William Russell as Ian (and voicing some of the other characters), you find yourself drawn completely into the story. The audio story is so beautifully crafted that you never find yourself missing any visuals that would have been available in a tv story.

The narrative changes from the present to the past (with shorter distances between the two, as the past becomes the present) smoothly; always there is a phrase or word that is used to link between the two narratives. Ian's character is perfectly crafted; slightly tetchy with the Doctor, protective and loving towards Vicki and Barbara; and terribly concerned to ensure the safety of his friends and companions. The other characters are also perfectly captured in this story, which seems to fit so well into the First Doctor era. This is one of those stories you find yourself playing through twice; not to understand it, but to enjoy once again the story and the marvellous telling of it.
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on 18 October 2015
I had noticed the ‘The Rocket Men’ and its sequels, and was curious as the reoccurrence of the titular antagonists seemed to suggest that these were titles worth paying attention to. John Dorney and Lisa Bowerman take up writing and directing duties respectively. These names are ones that I try and lookout for as they have been consistently good in other productions I have heard.

William Russell emits an authoritative tone even in narration and manages to capture Hartnell’s inflections well. This makes William narrating as Ian more engaging, and some of my favourite narration in the Companion Chronicles range. Gus Brown has a steely tone to his voice and plays the antagonist Ashmen with the calculating callousness you might expect. John Dorney does a wonderful job of painting the setting of Platform 5, the floating city on the planet Jobis, lots of rich; vivid imagery. The Doctor’s companions Ian, Barbara and Vicki, find themselves in a hostage situation and are presented with many hard choices. There is action, emotion and moral dilemma in this tale. The combination of the acting and writing make this an engaging and stimulating production.

On the other hand, the story jumps back and forth so much between recent past and present more than is really necessary, this is hardly helpful. The flash back framing device becomes tiresome early on, and punctures a lot of the tension. The Companion Chronicles are often understated, but I think more could have been made of the action, eventually the past and present events catch up with each other. The scene where Ian and Barbara first witness the Rocket Men would probably have had more impact at the beginning rather than 25 minutes in. Saying that the cliff hanger to the first episode is a sharp contrast as Ian jumps out an airlock after Barbara who has been thrown out by the Rocket Men, but then the opening of the second episode is a scene set closer to the arrival on Platform 5. John Dorney states on the extras that he had intended for an older Ian to be going through Barbara’s possessions while she was in hospital overnight, with their daughter, but couldn’t do that because of a reference in the Sarah Jane Adventures. From an emotive aspect, there is a blossoming romance between Ian and Barbara which is only really alluded to without the characters ever actually directly acknowledging the situation.

This story manages to capture the sense of wonderment that underpinned most of the Hartnell years. Back when the characters were explorers as well as heroes. Yet in terms of emotion and writing it’s more developed but equally as inventive.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 24 April 2012
This is another in the companion chronicles; in this instance Ian Chesterton tells a tale of when he, Barbara and Vicki, travelling with the First Doctor, are caught up in circumstances they could never have dreamed of. What should have been a pleasant and unexpected holiday on the planet Jobis becomes a nightmare when they are caught up in terrorism and piracy. And what can they, or the Doctor, do to save themselves or the planet?

This is one of the stand-out companion chronicles; the writing itself is so compelling that, together with the narrative supplied by William Russell as Ian (and voicing some of the other characters), you find yourself drawn completely into the story. The audio story is so beautifully crafted that you never find yourself missing any visuals that would have been available in a tv story.

The narrative changes from the present to the past (with shorter distances between the two, as the past becomes the present) smoothly; always there is a phrase or word that is used to link between the two narratives. Ian's character is perfectly crafted; slightly tetchy with the Doctor, protective and loving towards Vicki and Barbara; and terribly concerned to ensure the safety of his friends and companions. The other characters are also perfectly captured in this story, which seems to fit so well into the First Doctor era. This is one of those stories you find yourself playing through twice; not to understand it, but to enjoy once again the story and the marvellous telling of it.
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Latest Doctor Who companion chronicle. These are talking books that see an actor who played a companion to The Doctor on tv return to their role in order to read an all new story for the character.

They usually last for two episodes of roughly half an hour each and are complete on one cd.

And the actor in question will voice all the parts save for one, which is done by a guest actor.

This one sees William Russell return to the role of Ian Chesterton, whom he played on tv opposite William Hartnell's Doctor back in the 1960's.

The story sees the Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Vicki visit the giant planet Jobis. A gas giant, which has floating cities high up in it's atmosphere. And giant whale like creatures flying around them.

These cities are a top holiday destination, and the TARDIS crew enjoy their time there. But when a tour boat is attacked by the Rocket Men, a group of interstellar pirates who move through the atmosphere of the planet using rocket packs, an act of defiance leaves them fighing for their lives.

The first few years of the show on tv were very ambitious at times. This recalls in some ways the story Doctor Who - The Web Planet [DVD] which tried to create a very alien world. You can imagine this one being done on tv at the time as well. Mostly via back projection and stock footage and men on wires. But that's all part of the charm.

The narrative structure of the two episodes isn't linear. It jumps back and forth between different moments in the story. This takes a little getting used to. And it does mean that not much actually happens in the first episode. But the quality of the narrative and William Russell's reading is such that you don't really notice, and the episode flies by very nicely.

Come part two, though, this has some absolutely gripping moments as Ian has to do some very daring things. And these scenes ar fantastic to listen to.

It also allows the characters to show more emotion and depth than they ever got a chance to onscreen, and the way it examines the relationship between Ian and Barbara results in some lovely scenes that will stay with you for a while.

This is a great recreation of the style of it's era, and that, coupled with superb reading, makes it a wonderful listen.

There's a trailer for the next story in the range after the end of part two.

And an eight minute long [approx] interview with the writer of the story on the final track.
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on 17 January 2012
I am not a fan of having to listen to a story twice to convince myself I have understood or follow it correctly, but here it was well worth the listen. There are some Companion Chronicles that I understood the first time and are just too dull to listen to a second time for many years, but The Rocket Men is so engaging, sweet, dramatic and narratively clever that I was happy to invest the time with it - I really wanted to follow this story because it was so believable and interesting.

William Russell is a joy to listen to, and there are moments that bring a tear to the eye. I am not sure whether this is the emotion of the story or the joy that someone has finally tackled that burning issue so well which commenced nearly half a century ago.
The Hartnell stories are by and large some of the most interesting, daring and well-done of the Companion Chronicle range, even if they do command you to pay more attention than you do with other stories.

One of the most welcome additions to the Companion Chronicle Range; this Doctor Who story feels very special. The second actor has little to do in this story in comparison to some, but if Big Finish are going to do this from time to time, then they have picked the right actor to carry the additional material. I cannot wait for the next William Russell story.
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on 16 April 2012
What a joyous, suspenseful and action-packed story this is - excellently written, and most important of all - brilliantly acted and performed by the wonderful William Russell - after all these many years - he's still got it! A top-notch job by Big Finish, with gorgeous, retro-sounding effects. The writer, John Dorney, captures the real feel of William Hartnell era Who. What a combination! Whooooshhh!
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on 15 March 2013
THE WAY THIS STORY HAS BEEN ARRANGED, WITH OUT OF SEQUENCE NARRATION, LET'S IT DOWN. I SUGGEST THEY REVERT TO THE USUAL FORMAT IN FUTURE. I THINK IT'S BEST NOT TO BE TOO CLEVER WITH THE TELLING OF THE STORY, IT JUST DOESN'T WORK VERY WELL WHEN IT'S OUT OF SEQUENCE. OTHERWISE A FAIR PLOT, THOUGH THERE ARE A FEW RATHER UNBELIEVABLE SITUATIONS, EVEN FOR DR. WHO!
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