This is the first in the latest batch of talking books called doctor who: the companion chronicles. each features an actor who played one of the doctor's companions in the tv show reprising their role, telling a story that's all new. they usually run from sixty to seventy minutes and each has one other voice actor in them.
the first in this latest batch features carole ann ford reprising the role of susan, the doctor's grandaughter, that she played on screen alongside william hartnell, the first doctor.
another usual characteristic of these is that the actor will, in trying to impersonate the other characters in the tale, manage an excellent take on their vocal mannerisms rather than a straight impression of what they sounded like. and that the story will excellently recapture the feel of that particular era for the show on tv.
it delivers on those fronts.
the story involves susan recalling an adventure when the tardis arrived on a strange spaceship from earth, with a very strange creature as it's captain. It is navigating through space by punching holes in the very fabric of the universe. but this is letting monsters from beyond into the universe, and the doctor is determined to stop them. and there's a strange man on the ship, whom only susan has met....
there are some good character moments in this, and a nice moral question at the middle of it also.
but it also comes back to an occasional fault of this range in that it's not as well paced as it could be. there are two episodes, each running to thirty five minutes plus, and frankly the length of them means they can struggle to hold the attention at points.
as a whole this rates a 7.5/10. the box says the running time is fifty mins approx, when it's more than twenty minutes longer than that. a bit better pacing, or perhaps making this a three parter, and it would rate 8/10 because it does have a lot of good points.
the end of the penultimate track has a preview [not a trailer. you'll see what I mean] of the next one in this range, and the final track has a short but fun interview with the cast and director.
on 2 July 2014
This early Companion Chronicle is one of the best. Carole Ann Ford does a splendid job, not only recreating Susan, but also giving convincing interpretations of Hartnell, Chesterton and Barbara - not to mention the non-human Captain Rostrum. Stephen Hancock puts in a solid performance as the First Mate, although he doesn't have much to do besides Ford. Andy Lane provides the script, and I reckon it's a beauty. There are references back to Coal Hill School (very pleasant to be reminded that Barbara was a History teacher, and to hear her making convincing parallels with the past), and an excellent explanation of why the Tardis was so erratic in the early days is given - but quietly, as an aside. In addition I was amused to note a clear borrowing from Tolkien, and to see how ingeniously a Middle Earth concept worked in outer space.
My only reservation over this was the framing device - Susan is recounting events to someone who was present at the time, which sometimes sounds awkward and strained. However, that wasn't enough to spoil my pleasure; I've listened to this several times already, and look forward to doing so many more times in the future.
on 16 April 2010
This has much in common with other Companion Chronicles. On the plus side it is a marvellous opportunity to hear again from a popular companion from another era of the show, on the negative the scripts and storylines often seem to be to be rather poorly thought through and not really capturing a feel of the era.
Carole Anne Ford is superb as Susan and the sound and music effects are up to Big Finish' usual exceptional standards. However the storyline never lives up to the promise of its premise and the whole things seems rather disposal - a pleasant enough listen, but I doubt if I will listen to it again.