..if not exactly earth-shattering. It's great that Mary Tamm has joined the range of companion chronicles as I always preferred her version of Romana and have long wished for further adventures with her character. She reads the story excellently, perfectly recapturing her Romana like she's never been away, and voices all the other characters too, which is quite a feat as there are a lot of them.(although her take on the Doctor is rather poor). The meditteranean setting in the 1920's is very nice, and the monsters are suitably repulsive. Great sound design and music too. The plot is rather lightweight and unremarkable however, and the story just sort of passes you by, but in an inoffensive way. It does, however, fit well into the context of the era of the show it's set in, which is pleasing. Let's hope we get more adventures with Mary Tamm's Romana, but hopefully with extra guest actors rather than having her do all the work.
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Romana and the Doctor are holidaying in the French Riviera of the late twenties (presumably for a rest after the rigours of the search for the Key to Time, or maybe just to avoid the Black Guardian). As such this is a somewhat more relaxed story to those that precede it. The Doctor is attempting to practice his skills as an artist whilst avoiding Madame Arcana whilst Romana ingratiates herself into Riviera society as she as she tries to evade the attentions of Tom Creighton. However, all is not well on the Mediterranean coast; the stars don’t shine properly, there’s been a string of mysterious thefts and now people are acting out of character.
The setting feels quite suitable for the first incarnation of Romana. Although no longer as austere as she began in ‘The Ribos Operation’, her slightly haughty attitude and contemptuous amusement work well amongst the echelons of the indolent upper classes of the twenties. This provides an amusing tone throughout which is added to by the almost Wodehousian subplot of both the Doctor and Romana trying to avoid the unwanted attention of admirers.
There is certainly an Agatha Christie influence to the plot. There’s even the typical gather all the suspects/victims together scene. It allows for an array of slightly stereotypical characters for which Mary Tamm (who plays all the roles) successfully creates various voices and accents, giving the impression of a larger cast.
The humorous entanglements and messing about is all quite good fun and Tamm delivers everything well. The main alien plot and the revelation about what is happening isn’t that exciting though and a bit run of the mill. There is also a fair size info-dump in the latter stages that suddenly makes events feel a bit rushed and the resolution borrows a bit from ‘The Horror of Fang Rock’.
Not a strong story but a great performance from Mary Tamm.
please note: this is a review of companion chronicles 3.12, the stealers from saiph. for some reason the amazon system is displaying one review of companion chronicles 3.11 on this page.
the stealers from saiph is the twelfth in the latest batch of companion chronicles, a series of talking books featuring an actor who played a companion in doctor who on tv reprising the role to read an all new story.
this one features mary tamm, who played the first romana on tv in 1978 opposite tom baker's doctor. there's a slight break from the usual format of these releases which generally have one other voice actor in them in that it doesn't occur here. mary tamm reads all the parts herself.
the story is complete on one disc. it begins with a short trailer for the next in the range, then two episodes that run twenty eight and thirty five minutes approximately, and ends with a fun and lively interview with cast and crew.
In this story - which is set after the final tv story in which this romana appeared - she and the doctor are holidaying in the antibes in 1929. Other guests at their hotel include an eccentric greek astologer who tries to warn the doctor of impending doom, and a few upper class people from britain. the style of the characters and the setting are like something out of an agatha christie novel. mary tamm brings them to life very well, and some excellent period style music heightens the effect.
most of the first episode, save for an encounter with a monster at the end, is not the fastest paced tale ever, but the atmosphere of the tale is enough that it doesn't really matter. it's a pleasant listen. but things change direction drastically in the last third of the story when the true nature of the threat is revealed. It's really rather scary in a subtle way, and this is helped by creepy music. what follows next is just the kind of thing that the fourth doctor would have been in on screen, with a desperate race of time to destroy monsters before they get powerful.
the second episode of this is stronger than the first, and it's not quite the best in this season of companion chronicles, but an entertaining listen and well worth getting
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This is my favourite of all the Companion Chronicles released so far. Andy Lane has managed to recapture the spirit of Litefoot & Jago and write a very enjoyable release indeed. (Don't know who Litefoot and Jago are? Dash it, they're characters from Tom Baker's "Talons of Weng-Chiang" of course! )
I had heard good things about this release and was not disappointed. Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxter have remarkably recreated the chemistry between their two respective characters and the result is a delightful romp through Victorian England, with a doctor who-style twist of course. By Jove, get yourself a glass of porter, light the gas lamp and enjoy an hour's audio entertainment. It also includes 9 minutes of interviews with the cast and director/actress Lisa Bowerman, which show the fun had by all. Recommended!!!