Caroline John returns as companion Liz Shaw for this stand-alone dramatized talking book, as the long-wished for encounter between the 3rd Doctor and the Cybermen finally becomes reality. At it's heart this story is basically the usual tale of Cybermen converting humans for invasion, but author Nigel Fairs manages to add a few new variations along the way thanks to a new form of living metal and a novel use for the Cybermats. Minor quibbles are the fizzling out of the initial promise of an exploration of Liz Shaw's off-screen departure from UNIT, and Carolne John's rather comical impersonation of the Brigadier, but all in all this is an enjoyable, and enjoyably gruesome, outing for the 3rd Doctor.
One of Big Finish's popular Doctor Who audio ranges is The Companion Chronicles, which focuses primarily on the adventures of the first three Doctors, as these Doctors are no longer with us. Rather than full-cast audio dramas, these adventures take the form of a two-person performance, with one of the Doctor's companions narrating an "unseen" adventure with a second supporting character taking part. They tend to be shorter than the Big Finish's full cast audios, with two half hour episodes on one CD.
This release, The Blue Tooth, is narrated by Caroline John, who played Liz Shaw, a UNIT scientist. Unlike other companions of that era, Liz never travelled in the Third Doctor's TARDIS and was almost his equal when it came to science. As such, the two never really ended up with the same close relationship that he eventually came to have with both Jo Grant and Sarah-Jane Smith. This audio drama addresses the decision by Liz to leave both UNIT and the Doctor behind, something that occurred off-screen between the transition of Season 7 and 8.
Faced with the rare opportunity of a few days off, Liz contacts her old university friend, Jean Basemore, for a catch up in Cambridge. However, when Jean doesn't show up for their meeting, it prompts an investigation into her disappearance that brings Liz herself into danger, and reintroduces an old enemy from the Doctor's past: The Cybermen.
Jon Pertwee's Doctor never faced the Cybermen on screen, possibly due to their over-exposure during the Patrick Troughton era. However that misdeed has been rectified in this story, which draws a lot of its plot from the aftermath of the Second Doctor story, The Invasion and finally puts the character of the 3rd Doctor against a Cyberman threat.
This story had a nice slow build-up with Caroline John taking most of the narration duties until the Cybermen themselves appear in the latter half, voiced by Nicholas Briggs (who also voices them in the current series of Doctor Who). John manages to convey the story well, although I found her delivery was a bit quick in places and disorientating, especially when describing action scenes. As the Cyberman are hardly the most vocal of enemies, Nicholas Briggs doesn't feature too much in this audio adventure, making it seem more like a solo story. While Caroline John does attempt to use different voices for the Brigadier and the Doctor, they aren't the most effective; however, it isn't too jarring.
I particularly liked the script which really captured some of the subtleties of both Liz's character and the 3rd Doctor. For example, the description of the Doctor rubbing the back of his neck whilst speaking to Liz was very accurate as it was a common trait of Jon Pertwee's on-screen and it helped me visualise the scene perfectly. Within her narration, Liz comes across as an older and somewhat wiser version of the character she played in the 1970's, aware of her shortcomings as an `academic' with little time for frivolous things.
I loved the fact that the Cybermats are referenced, especially as they've made resurgence in the current series too. The evolution of both the Cybermen and the Cybermats is an interesting concept and even though the changes to their `methods' are contained to just within this audio - it is curious to note that some of the `upgrades' that featured here, such as the smaller insect-like Cybermats, eventually appear in the recent episode, Nightmare in Silver.
Overall, this was a fun story set within a period of the show which is ripe for exploration, as there is something of a blank space between Liz's departure and the introduction of Jo Grant. I liked the continuity references in this audio, remembering that the Brigadier had encountered the Cybermen before and introducing Mike Yates as a newly arrived Captain. It is these little touches that make it much easier to fit these audio adventures in with the canon of the televised serials.
Third in the series of audios entitled companion chronicles, in which someone who played one of doctor who's travelling companions on screen returns to their role to tell another story of their character having an adventure with the doctor. This time it's the turn of caroline john to return to the role of liz shaw, whom she played during john pertwee's first season in 1970.
These stories are told in the style of talking books, and this one involves liz visiting an old friend in cambridge, only to walk slap bang into a mystery and a plot by the cybermen. The third doctor never met them on screen, so this is an encounter that's long overdue. A bit of a shame that the cover has to give their presence away.
This is in four parts, none longer than seventeen and a half minutes, and as a result is quite decently paced. Caroline John clearly enjoys herself and does a very good reading, liz getting scared when remembering bad memories and sad when remembering unhappy ones and the like. She does an interesting impression of some of the other doctor who characters delivering their lines. But think of it as liz shaw doing that rather than caroline john and it works rather well.
A slight problem with this story is that liz isn't that proactive, and is pretty much just tailing round behind the doctor for most of it, but all in all, it's a good recreation of the era, and there are a couple of powerful moments in the last part you won't forget in a hurry. Worth a listen
Third story in the 1st series of the Companion Chronicles. Liz Shaw, the Third Doctor, the Brigadier, UNIT and the Cybermen are all pulled together in this diverting audio adventure, which as the title suggests, brings a whole new reason for avoiding your annual visit to the Dentists.
Managing to do what the TV series never did, namely reuniting The Cybermen with the Doctor's Third incarnation, the story clever weaves together a tale of missing scientists, UNIT and in a nod to the Tom Baker era, a forerunner to the Cybermats as once again, the Cybermen attempt to subdue the human race for cyber-conversion. Can the Doctor, Liz Shaw and the Brigadier foil their plans?
I would give this story four out of five, my reason is because I felt Caroline's acting was really impressive. The way she changed the tone of her voice in different situations was brilliant. I was on the edge of my seat a couple of times during the story. Her brig impression was okay in some parts, but for me it did not really capture the rhythm of Nicholas Courtney's voice at all. I also like the invasion plot from the cybermen, living metal nice original idea for the cybermen The problem I have with this story is mainly the cybermen voices. Nick Briggs does a good job, but the voices are the ones from the recent series. It should of been the voice from the invasion cybermen. But overall a good story and a story that I will relisten countless times
The episodes in the 70's were 25 minutes each, each episode in this last's about 17 minutes, but that wouldn't bother you. The character Liz Shaw is in this adventure, as well as one of Doctor who's most powerfully enemies, the cybermen. Nicholas Brigss does the voice of the cybermen (who does the voices of both the Cybermen and the Daleks in the modern series.) And an ending you won't forget (no wonder why Liz Shaw left U.N.I.T.) This story also has UNIT Captin Mike Yates, who did not apper this early in the TV series. Altogether this is a very good story, lovely background music, and most importantly, good acting.
Took me right back to that 1970 season.. and with Cybermen this time. Caroline John reprises her role in convincing fashion, and the background details and contemporary music set the time well. The ending is perhaps a little tame, but quite clever. All in all, an enjoyable and sometimes downright creepy little mystery that kept me on the edge of my seat for much of the time.