Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

Two Companion Chronicles

Driving up and down the peninsula yesterday I had the chance to enjoy a couple of the recent Companion Chronicles which I had somehow missed.

The Darkening Eye is a prequel to last year's Seventh Doctor audio, The Death Collectors, which introduced us listeners to the Dar Traders, an alien race who are the eponymous collectors. Here we get the full early Fifth Doctor crew encountering them along with an undead assassin; none of it really made sense, to be honest, people keep getting stabbed and the ending of the framing narrative (Nyssa reminiscing to a patient on Terminus) didn't make a lot of sense.

But it's really lifted by Sarah Sutton as Nyssa, doing a pretty good take of Davison's Doctor, Janet Fielding's Tegan and even Matthew Waterhouse's Adric, as well as almost all the other characters. There are a satifying number of references back to Season 17 18 (thanks, thette) - dwarf star alloy, Traken, dimensional problems, etc. The plot is no worse than several of the TV stories she appeared in (though I still don't get the Dar Traders).

William Russell's return in character as Ian Chesterton gives him the record for Who performer of longest standing (though Carole Ann Ford is due to regain that title later in the year). Transit of Venus is a two-hander with Ian Stoddard playing Joseph Banks, and William Russell playing everyone else, after the Tardis appears on board the Endeavour in 1774 and promptly disappears again along with Susan and Barbara. It is set immediately after and (despite the historical setting) ties in very closely with The Sensorites, which for my money is the worst story of the very first TV season so it's a bit mysterious that both Big Finish and (via the Ood) New Who have chosen to revisit it.

Most of Transit of Venus is really good - a decent picture of life on board the ship, with a certain sense of loyalty to the early historical series, and a great portrayal by Russell of an increasingly frantic Ian, as well as most of the other characters. Unfortunately the build-up of the first 90% of the play is seriously blunted by a really stupid ending.

So, two plays with somewhat imperfect scripts which are both very much lifted by the guest star.
Tags: doctor who, doctor who: 01, doctor who: 05, doctor who: audio

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