Latest Doctor Who companion chronicle. These are a monthly range of talking books which see an actor who played a companion to the Doctor on tv return to the role to read an all new story for their character.
They do all the narration and the voices save one, which is read by a guest actor.
They usually run for two parts of roughly twenty five to thirty minutes each, and are complete on a single cd.
This one see Katy Manning return to the role of Jo Grant, who she played opposite Jon Pertwee's Doctor back in the 1970's.
It is a two parter, on a single cd, and each episode runs for twenty five minutes [approx].
It does break the usual format though, like some of these have, by being full cast drama with all dialogue and no narration.
Which isn't the only thing that's unique about it.
The story sees Jo trying to deal with the Scorchies. A tv show involving a group of rather disparate puppets, that will bring back memories to those of a certain generation of shows like Pipkin's and Fingerbobs and Bagpuss. However, people have died whilst watching the Scorchies. Because they are actually evil aliens who look like puppets, and who are trying to take over the world.
UNIT are on the way. But there's no sign of the Doctor. What has happened to him? Can Jo save the day on her own? Or will she be as baffled as the Scorchies resident scientific genius?
The characterisation of the puppets does make them feel like a programme from the time of the aforementioned 70's shows. Guest actor Melvyn Hayes [best known for his role in 'it ain't half hot mum'] does an amazing job with them, making each a totally unique character.
And he also signs.
Yes, this has musical numbers. But don't let that put you off, because they do fit in with the narrative, are also in keeping with the 70's style, and are incredibly catchy with it.
This does start in the middle of the action and only gradually fill in some of the exposition, but you get used to that easily enough.
It plays clever in jokes with certain tv cliches.
And those who know the cliches of this era of the show will laugh out loud when they hear one quite brilliant bit of dialogue.
The story does also have a lot of substance, as it gets quite dark when describing the origin of the Scorchies, and it allows for some strong characterisation as a result.
This is totally original, full of the style of the time it tries to evoke, and a lot of fun with it. You won't get the songs out of your head for a while afterwards, also.
It may not be to everyone's taste, but if you're in the mood for a fun, original, and highly clever story, it's highly recommended.
There's a trailer for the next in this range on the cd track after the end of part two.
And fourteen minutes worth of talk from the writers of the musical numbers on the two tracks after that.
on 27 December 2016
Santa brought me this for 2016 - a welcome antidote to the moribund Christmas DW episode. I liked this skit on The Muppet Show and Bagpuss very much. I laughed aloud several times, enjoying the disparaging Space: 1999 reference (though that was up against DW in the season after Jo left). Melvyn Hayes does a fine job on the wonderfully sinister puppet voices, particularly Mr Grizzfizzle. The Pertwee era is well invoked by tropes including Professor Baffle's reverse-polarity-polarity-reverser. "The Killing the Doctor Song" is a hoot, with plenty of references to Three's adversaries.
Katy Manning rolls back the decades to reprise her wide-eyed ingenue role as Jo, and her Pertwee voice is OK.
I'd love to see the Scorchies turn up in the TV series......
on 4 September 2015
he Scorchies is a Companion Chronicles audio drama that was recorded on 19 October 2012. Written by James Gross who also wrote ‘the Time Museum’, this musical is just as original and inventive. This features Katy Manning and Melvyn Hayes.
Disembodied entities the Scorchies (so called because the burn the invaded planet) have possessed puppets in a TV studio with the aim of enslaving or destroying the host planet. They came from a planet where their chief scientist Professor Baffle had recently discovered television. This led to widespread apathy and complacency. Extra-terrestrial forces invaded by transmitting themselves through the television signals and through their TVs. The invading force burned their home planet. Professor Baffle found a way to transmit the population to other worlds in the same way the invading force had arrived, and the Scorchies copied the invading forces enslaving Professor Baffle in order to make him watch the terrible things they did. And now they have captured Jo Grant. What next?
Being a musical the acting and music often merge, but if I recall right there were three songs. The first one is called ‘Jo is making a thing’ and is self-descriptive really. It’s an enjoyable cheery ditty that goes nowhere and is used in the Scorchies trailer which is on Youtube
The second song adds to the narrative as it is the cliff hanger, the both songs are briefly repeated in the second part. Thankfully they fit in here perfectly. So, singing sock puppet sadists that force their creator to live vicariously through their actions. Nope, can't say that one has been done before!
Melvyn manages to make the Scorchies head honcho sound subtly menacing. Katy is always going to be a winner but can you imagine any other companion making a go of this in the same we she does? It’s made for her. Their voices are passed through filters where necessary and the audio production is top notch. All the voices sound varied, but Katy just can't do male voices. There are a few instances where she has to imitate the Doctor or the Brigadier. Which is totally weird, as I don’t remember Jo ever having an interest in doing impressions!
It's plot light but at 50 minutes that’s to be expected and when it’s packed with lines like "the reversed polarity polarity reverser was actually reversing the unreversed polarities" then all is forgiven. Have no fear however as the Scorchies later return in 'Jago & Litefoot' series 7 and 8. How they would fit into the gothic tone I have no idea but I do want to find out. Energetic and postmodern yes, but I feel there is an attempt at humour here that I am just not getting. Still I can’t fault it for what it is, great fun! Is this why the Maser was watching the Clangers in the Sea Devil.
So now ring out the Klaxons!
We must be worse than Axons!
Because he’s returned to ruin our show!
We thought that we’d rehearsed it!
But now the Doc’s reversed it!
Like the polarity of the Neutron Flow!
We get a kids TV show (Muppets meets Rainbow) with plenty of singing which is a cover for aliens brainwashing TV viewers as part of their destruction of all life on Earth. Jo infiltrates the studio in an attempt to defeat them but is soon 'Making a Thing' as part of the show.
We get more Pertwee than Pertwee when the attention is turned to a device something like a flow reverser for the neutron flow parity reverser (something like that - you get the drift) before all ends well.
Big Finish only occasionally do singing episodes - this one works well and the cast (Katy Manning and Melvyn Hayes) deserve credit as does James Goss for writing this.
Give it a go, but be warned - it's bonkers!
on 14 January 2015
Utterly barmy companion chronicle from the ongoing Big Finish audio series; this one features Third Doctor companion Jo Grant, and her abduction by the nefarious Scorchies – malevolent beings that are eerily similar to some well-known kids’ TV puppets from yesteryear. Led by the mocking Muppet-esque Mr Grizzfizzle, and including Cool Cat, the Magic Mice, Amble the ugly dolly, and Professor Baffle (ring any bells?!), the Scorchies aim to lay-waste to the Earth, (hence their name), as they have done to a host of other planets, capturing their victims, forcing them to ‘make a thing’, and then putting them to death. One of their weird songs details their capture and disposal of The Doctor, however as we know, the Time Lord is really not that easy to kill, and Jo’s horror at his demise may be just one more red herring…this is wilfully strange, but at the same time, its somehow captivating stuff.
on 28 April 2013
I loved this story from start to finish. I found it creepy and dark in a weird way. I don't want to create spoilers so giving examples is a bit tricky, but a children's tv show with a puppet called 'Ugly Dolly' perhaps hints at the underlying unpleasantness. And the chanting mice : "It's time for death all over the world. All over the world it's time to die". *Shudders*