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The Many Deaths of Jo Grant (Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles) Audio CD – Audiobook, 31 Oct 2011
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They usually run for two parts of roughly thirty minutes each, and are complete on one disc.
And the lead actor reads all the roles save for one which is performed by a guest actor.
This story sees Katy Manning return to the role of Jo Grant, who she played opposite Jon Pertwee's Doctor back in the seventies.
This story is set in the Third Doctor's fourth season. After the time lords had ended his exile to earth. And it begins with some nicely written and emotional scenes with the The Brigadier and Jo at UNIT HQ, whilst the Doctor is off travelling in the TARDIS. Both having to face up to the fact that the Doctor's wanderlust might get the better of him not he can travel again.
Then the Doctor returns. With an alien along for the ride. And suddenly UNIT is under attack.
A gripping depiction of the resulting battle ensues. All seems lost.
Then Jo finds things go rather strange.
It is blantantly obvious what is actually happening at this point. But it takes up the entire final third of the first part and gets a bit repetitive very quickly.
It's the same for the first third of part two.
But then the story gets back on track with decent exposition.
And it manages to spring a surprise. Or two.
The final third does what this range does best. Have the companion come to an emotional realisation and emerge a stronger person a a result. This does that, and sums up the Third Doctor/Jo relationship beautifully as a result.
So whilst this is possibly a bit overlong and does sag in the middle, it emerges as a nice enough listen in the end.
There's a short trailer for the next companion chronicle after the end of part two.
And just under eight minutes of interviews with cast and crew after that. This contains a very touching moment towards the end, and is a very worthwhile listen.
Writers Cavan Scott and Mark Wright introduce some fascinating aliens, diminutive creatures who occupy specially cultivated host bodies, which they use as fighting vehicles. These creatures arrive on Earth in pursuit of the Doctor, causing trouble for UNIT.
Before the first episode is out, though, the scene has switched to an alien world. It shifts again during Part Two to a spaceship. Thus Scott and Wright's plot taps into the three main story types of Jo Grant's time with the Third Doctor: invasion of Earth, alien planet, and space opera. In each of these scenarios, in an unfortunate coincidence of ideas between Big Finish and recent television episodes, Jo (Katy Manning) encounters an impossible astronaut.
We all know that Jo can't really die during these "Companion Chronicles", let alone die many times, so the nature of these various locations will quickly become apparent to anyone with a smattering of sci-fi knowledge. However, the narrative is structured in such a way that the listener does not feel totally cheated. The writers explore Jo's propensity for self-sacrifice, which saved the Doctor's life in "The Time Monster" and proved so confusing to Azal in "The Dæmons".
The real appeal of this story is the relationship between the Doctor and Jo, which Manning's performance brings vividly to life. It's also a joy - as ever - to hear the actress's more eccentric voices during nearly eight minutes of interviews at the end of the disc. There is also poignancy, as Jo realises that before long the Time Lord will leave the Earth for good, and as we realise that this is the first Big Finish audio adventure to feature the Brigadier since the passing of actor Nicholas Courtney (to whom this CD is dedicated).
As Shakespeare wrote, "Cowards die many times before their deaths"... but, as this adventure proves, so can the valiant.
In this story Katy Manning performs the role of Jo Grant, with Nicholas Asbury as Rowe. Jo starts by telling us of a time when the Doctor comes back from a journey away from Earth, with an injured refugee. But her people have followed her, and seem prepared to do anything, including killing everbody at UNIT, to get her back. Can the Doctor save everybody? Can Jo save the Doctor?
This is a very clever story; Katy Manning reprises the role of Jo wonderfully, and performs that, and narrates the rest of the story (with the character of Rowe) tremendously well. The story itself is complex, interesting, and simultaneously heartwarming and tragic all at the same time. It captures perfectly the tone of the 1970s UNIT type Doctor Who stories, the character of the Third Doctor, and the character of Jo, and brings to life again the wonderful relationship that Jo and the Doctor shared through all their trials and joys together. Really wonderful.
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