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Dr Who Shadow of the Past 4.9 CD (Dr Who Big Finish Companions) (Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles) Audio CD – Audiobook, 30 Apr 2010
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Top customer reviews
The returning former companion reads all the parts save for one which is voiced by another actor.
This one sees Caroline John return once again to the role of Liz Shaw, who she played opposite Jon Pertwee's Doctor on tv back in 1970.
The story sees Liz in the present day visit UNIT HQ for the first time in many years, where she and a sergeant examine something that's been kept in a vault for decades. Liz tells the sergeant the tale of how the thing came to be there in the first place. Back in the 1970's, UNIT and the Doctor are called in when an alien spaceship crashes in Britain. The story is set during the third doctor's first season when UNIT were more of a secretive and occasionally ruthless organisation than the cosy family they became, and this depicts that very well, with the alien ending up in a secret base and the military keeping wraps on things.
At the same time, more aliens are on the way, and the doctor, who was exiled to Earth, might have a chance to do something about that.
That's just part one.
Part two begins with a cliffhanger resolution that I really didn't see coming, and moves along nicely after that with a good few twists and turns. A very interesting race of aliens. A few moments that will please those who know the continuity of third doctor era. And an interesting scene of alien infiltration that Jon Pertwee would have relished playing.
All the time we have some nicely well rounded characters all in keeping with their portrayals of the time, but in a script that allows them a bit more depth than they ever got on tv.
And it's not often in this series that the framing narration has a purpose, but here it does. Leading to one final surprise and a memorable resolution.
The second episode is stronger than part one but this is a clever script well in keeping with the era in which it's set and full of memorable moments. A well above average entry in this range.
There's a trailer for the next companion chronicle at the start of the disc, and seven minutes or so of interviews with cast and crew at the end.
Caroline John, as always, does a marvellous job narrating these Companion Chronicles with Liz Shaw; and she does a fine job at the other character voices as well - not easy to portray the Doctor or the Brigadier, but she does well at it. The story builds to a crescendo which seems fairly typical of the 1970s UNIT era; but there's more to it than you might at first expect.
The atmosphere is well crafted, the story is engaging, the characters are true to the `classic' Doctor Who series, and Caroline John tells a story that draws the listener in from beginning to end. Totally recommended.
I find the tale credible and the concepts believable, it is well performed and overall a worthwhile addition to the range. There are a few rewarding surprises for the listener. Not quite a first rate Companion Chronicles, but it kept me captivated more than many in the range and lives up to the dual nature of the title of the range; a good companion story and a very good Doctor Who chronicle.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Caroline John does a competent job throughout and the first part of the script is simply marvelous with an almost X-files feel to it. However, the second part had issues. The first was the use of the time lords as a plot device: a somewhat iffy proposition to be sure and then the end really strained credulity even for Doctor Who. Overall, this has got some good parts in it, but I can't rate it much better than average.
For starters, Simon Guerrier's script is a wonderful pastiche of the era. Season 7 stands out as something special from both the Third Doctor era and Old Who as a whole thanks to more grown-up and gritty sensibilities. Nicely tucked into the gap between The Silurians and The Ambassadors Of Death, Shadow Of The Past captures the era perfectly with a Liz in the aftermath of the former story and the strained relations between the Doctor and the Brigadier. There's still a sense of early days for UNIT as an older Liz (as part of the framing device for this tale) says that there's no way an alien spaceship would be brought into the center of London these days while also mentioning how the modern UNIT has had to function in the Doctor's absence. It's moments like that which make the Companion Chronicles, and this one in particular, interesting as Liz returns to a UNIT vault decades after the story's events unfolded. It's something which means that is can be doing both a pastiche of the era while also looking back at it with four decades of hindsight.
Make no mistake though: this is a Third Doctor/UNIT alien invasion story. Echoing stories like the aforementioned Ambassadors or The Claws Of Axos, the story starts with an alien spaceship crashing to Earth. With the Doctor and Brigadier still at logger heads, Liz is the responsible scientist caught in the middle as her and the Doctor try to ascertain what the craft is and what threat (if any) it might be to humanity. It's a story that builds a long at a nice pace, taking in the sights and sounds of the extraordinary with the ordinary ranging from the alien spacecraft in a UNIT lab to the UNIT canteen down the hall. It builds to a fantastic episode one cliffhanger that would have made for a classic moment on TV before the story builds to its climax and a nice twisty ending.
One of the great things about Guerrier's script is his treatment of Liz as a character. If you're a fan of Liz and the actress who played her, you're in for a treat as both are given a chance to shine. Liz is at the forefront of the story throughout but especially in the second half when the fate of the world might very well be in her hands. Caroline John seems to be relishing in the script and her full range is on display from comedic moments of the Doctor to displays of the woman beneath the scientist exterior that was only hinted at on TV including a beautiful moment towards the end that brings the human cost of these type of invasion stories front and center. The framing device also allows us those aforementioned moments of retrospection, the sense of opportunities lost in the mists of time. It's a fine performance from Caroline John and one of the best to come out of the handful of stories she did for the range.
There's plenty else to recommend the release for. Lex Shrapnel as Marshall has quite a small role but he's effective in the portions he's in, helping fill in moments and becoming Liz's companion to some extent. The sound effects and music are also up to Big Finish's usual standards with a soundscape that brings both the extraordinary and the ordinary to life magnificently throughout, often subtly, but always playing to the story's advantage.
While it might not perhaps be a standout story from the Companion Chronicles along the lines of Guerrier's Sara Kingdom trilogy or the later Liz Shaw tale The Last Post, Shadow Of The Past is more than worthy of a listen. Guerrier crafts a fine pastiche of the era which gives Caroline John plenty to work with, and boy does she do fine work with it. For fans of the era and Liz Shaw as a character, it's a pleasure to listen to and well worth the price tag.