Doctor Who companion chronicles are a range of talking books that see an actor who played a companion to The Doctor on tv return to their role in order to read an all new story for the character.
They usually last for two episodes of roughly half an hour each and are complete on one cd.
And the actor in question will voice all the parts save for one, which is done by a guest actor.
This is not part of the regular run of these, though. Rather it's a box set containing three stories that were originally released in other formats.
The first three discs in this box all form one story. The Three companions. Those who listen to the main big finish range of Doctor Who audios will be familiar with this, as it was originally released in twelve parts across one year, one part on one of the regular audios.
But if you're not; it involves Polly and the Brigadier coming into contact via the internet, and exchanging e mails, in which they tell each of an adventure each had with the Doctor. Both involved very strange alien worlds. And a man with a similar name.
The correspondence is occasionally interrrupted by Thomas Brewster, one time companion in a few audio stories to the Fifth Doctor [his subsequent three stories with the Sixth having come out after this]. Who might just have had dealings with the same man.
All of which leads to problems for the city of London. And the three companions having to fight to save it.
Overall it's a pleasant story with a great amount of inventiveness, and an interesting mix of three different styles. It doesn't quite feel that it amounts to much in the end, though, but it's a decent listen.
The first disc in this collection contains the first four episodes of this, all edited together into one long episode that runs for forty minutes approx. The second disc contains the next four, edited in a similar manner. And the third disc the last four.
Disc two has a fifteen minute long interview with Nicholas Courtney [the brigadier], on the final three tracks of the disc. Disc three has a ten minute long one with Anneke Wills [Polly], John Pickard [Brewster], plus the writer and the director.
The fourth disc in this collection is a story called the Mists of Time. It sees Katy Manning return to the role of Jo Grant, whom she played opposite Jon Pertwee's Doctor on tv. It's one long story that runs for seventy minutes [approx] and there's no interview at the end of it.
It sees Jo suddenly finding herself back on a planet she visited with the Doctor when she travelled with him. And being reunited with a man she met at the time. She can't remember how she got back there, though. The man then encourages her to tell the tale of her first trip to the planet. When she and the Doctor met an expedition that had missing members. And the Doctor found that the planet had a dark secret. And ghosts....
This tries to be haunting and atmospheric and succeeds pretty well at that. It also recreates the style of it's era, which had some tales of humans on far flung and windswept planets. There are some good revelations in the latter part of the story. And although you may think you see the ending coming, it doesn't quite work out how you'd expect.
Final disc is a story called Freakshow. It sees Mark Strickson return to the role of Turlugh, whom he played opposite Peter Davison's Doctor on TV. And it runs for two parts, both a little over thirty minutes in duration.
It's set in the Wild West, and sees Turlough visit a remote town just as a travelling showman does the same. His shows contains some very strange living exhibits. And he might be on the lookout for a new one...
Somewhat languidly paced, but very atmospheric in part one, that episode strives hard to create atmosphere and setting and does so very well. Toby Longworth makes an excellent performance as the showman, doing a very interesting voice for him. Part two offers revelations and more traditional story telling. And also gives the TARDIS crew some excellent character moments.
The disc ends with an eight minute long [approx] interview with Mark Strickson, Toby Longworth, and the writer and the director.
The Mists of time and Freakshow were originally released as podcasts, and this is the first time they've been released on regular cd.
This is a pricey boxset, and you may already have some of what's in it. But it's the last new material featuring Nicholas Courtney that we'll ever hear, and it contains some good stories. So it's worth it.
This is a set of 5 cds with stories - the first 3 are interlinked, and the remaining 2 stories are standalone. They are all `companion chronicles' which feature one or more of the Doctor's companions at some time narrating a story.
The first story starts off on cd1 with Polly Wright contacting Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, after having seen an article written by Jo Jones (nee Jo Grant, now married to Professor Jones - Third Doctor era). Having established contact, Polly and the Brigadier start sharing stories about the Doctor. This is all very nice, and for a Doctor Who fan of long standing, it was nice to have that little bit of reminiscing and tying together companions and eras. Then it's on to the story proper. This takes the form of Polly narrating a story from her days travelling with the Doctor, Jamie and Ben, when they land on a strange planet which appears to be nearing its end. But who is Gerry Lenz and what is he doing there?
The Brigadier picks up the narration in the second cd and tells his own story, which has rather disturbingly familiar traits to some aspects of Polly's story. He tells of travelling with the Doctor to what appears to be Victorian London, but someone else is also there. In the third cd, the person who has been `listening in' on Polly and the Brigadier reveals his story, as Thomas Brewster tells a tale which links all three stories, and to the current crisis being faced on Earth. These three stories are all okay, but I didn't rate them terribly highly as a whole. I found that the narration did not paint a picture for me, I didn't get a `visual' of the narrative as I would want from an audio experience. So while terribly clever, they each get 4 stars.
The fourth and fifth cds are standalone companion chronicles. The first is a tale told by Jo Grant (as played by Katy Manning) from when she travelled with the third Doctor (as played by Jon Pertwee). In the third Doctor era, this tale comes after the Carnival of Monsters, so the Doctor has only just retained some control of the Tardis and it's not always very reliable in its arrival place or time. Jo and the Doctor have landed somewhere, they know not where, but are found by a member of the archaeological team on the planet and directed to their camp. There, they meet the remaining members of the team, all the others of whom have disappeared in their time there. And their mayday signal is not being responded to by anyone. But the Doctor and Jo have had a ghostly experience of their own out among the ruins, and this planet has a few secrets still left to tell. The plot of the story is very well thought out and very well narrated - I thoroughly enjoyed this whole story. Five stars for this one.
And the fifth cd is narrated by Turlough (as played by Mark Strickson). Just after the story told in Enlightenment, Turlough is feeling rather put upon by Tegan and the Doctor and when the Tardis lands in Arizona in 1905, he walks through the desert into a small town, Buzzard Creek just as the travelling show of Thaddeus P Winklemeyer arrives. But there's more to the show than the residents of the small town realise. This was again a great companion chronicle, and Mark Strickson does a great job as Turlough. Five stars for this one.
Overall, I'm not sure why these five cds are packed and sold as one set. The first three are linked, yes, but the last two are definitely not. Seems a strange marketing idea. However, four and a half stars all up from me for the whole set.
‘The Three Companions’ was a twelve part mini-series that was comprised of twelve ten minute episodes, and was included on various releases from the Main Range from April 2009 to February 2010. Written by Marc Platt and directed Lisa Bowerman. This story was recorded in June 2008, and was the last appearance of Nicholas Courtney as the Brigadier.
Polly has been attempting to contact the Doctor, and in doing so made contact with the Brigadier. They strike up an email correspondence and exchange tales of traveling with the Doctor. Polly’s story involves the Tardis crew and the second Doctor landing on a dead planet, due for cremation. The Brigadier’s anecdote involves himself and the third Doctor stuck on a miniaturised version of Earth. While our protagonists are exchanging stories they are being tracked down by Thomas Brewster. Together they set out to prevent the current weather crisis and defeat Gerry Lenz and the Coffin Loaders.
Polly, the Brigadier and Brewster? Was Nicola Bryant to busy? Perhaps Bonnie Langford was too expensive? Or did Big Finish just feel that they needed to put their mark on it by putting a Big Finish creation in this story? Whatever the reason it doesn’t feel particularly organic. Anneke manages to do some half decent impersonations but Nicholas doesn’t fare as well when having to impersonate Pertwee. John Pickard manages to inject plenty of energy into his performance. The Richard Fox & Lauren Yason is some of the most average and bog standard I have heard from Big Finish.
The episodic feel of three separate yet connected stories is rather disjointed; the whole thing is overly long. If you were to hear this in its original 12 episode format I am sure it would have some entertainment value, but as a two hour long deal it drags terribly. The email correspondence framing device becomes cumbersome after not very long at all, and the characters begin interrupting each other somehow! The idea of that cheeky scamp trying to pass himself off as the Doctor is quite amusing though. I am sure fans of the Companion Chronicles range will enjoy this, but others might not find this so engaging. 5
‘Freakshow’ was written by Mark Morris and directed by Lisa Bowerman. This audio drama was recorded on 24 April 2009. This was available to readers of Doctor Who Magazine who went to the Big Finish website and entered a code to be found within the magazine. The digital download offer was only available from 3 March to 26 May 2010. Big Finish subsequently reissued the story as part of The Companion Chronicles: The Specials, which was released in August 2011.
Buzzard Creek, Arizona, 1905. Turlough storms out of the Tardis after arguing with his fellow travellers. Turlough is feeling like he doesn’t belong, and that the rest of the Tardis crew haven’t yet forgiven him for the events of ‘Enlightenment’. Eventually stumbling across a small town and working his charm on the locals Turlough discovers a carnival. In this carnival is a freakshow with several alien attractions.
Strickson is a great narrator, but his impressions and accents aren’t great. Toby Longworth plays Thaddeus and Berman. Toby Hrycek-Robinson’s sounds and what music there is are faint and distant giving it all a dream like atmosphere.
Although, the story has no great surprises I do find the Wild West setting rather boring, and the atmosphere is paper thin. Ultimately this is all resolved by a flute battle? 6
‘The Mists of Time’ was written by Jonathan Morris and directed by Lisa Bowerman. It was initially a digital download exclusively offered to readers of Doctor Who Magazine Issue 411, but was later released as part of The Companion Chronicles: The Specials box set, which was released in August 2011. This audio drama was recorded on 18 and 30 December 2008.
Joe inexplicably finds herself back on the ravaged Zayin Eight, in the far future, with a human called Newton Calder who she had met there on a previous outing, and to who she recalls her previous encounter. The Doctor and Joe had landed on a desolate war torn planet and almost immediately encountered apparitions re-enacting war from the distant past. Soon after they discover a group of archaeologists, who have become stranded, and can’t radio for help because the magnetism of the stormy atmosphere of the planet is blocking the distress signal. The Doctor and Joe decide to explore the planet’s surface further, and discover a long forgotten secret of the Time Lords.
David Darlington’s soundscape has no real music, but lots of howling wind which sets a haunting atmosphere. The echoes in the caverns sound realistic, as do the weather effects. This is essential late night listening. Titles like ‘Beyond the Ultimate Adventure’ and ‘Nekromanteia’ could have both benefited from this kind of approach rather than thick gothic doom laden music, but they would have still been terrible stories.
Katy Manning mostly narrates this with Andrew Whipp playing Newton Calder. Katy really throws herself into this and you have to admire her enthusiasm even though she doesn’t sound much like Pertwee she doesn’t sound all that much like her younger self either, but she does give an enchanting performance.
This is a well-paced story, although perhaps ever so slightly too long, but is very obvious at times, and lacks the emotive gravitas of the very best of the Companion Chronicles range. Despite that, there is a nice twist at the end and it’s a very enjoyable production. 7
This box set is pretty consistent. Consistently dull. It’s hobbled together from previously available material that was free at one time or another and even for giveaways this isn’t particularly stimulating. For me ‘The Mists of Time’ is the standout story but even that doesn’t particularly make me want to hear it again in a hurry. This box set feels like an attempt to milk completionists. For the price I would say wait for an offer. Overall 6