Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

Four BF audios

The fourth series of Companion Chronicles from Big Finish is off to an excellent start.

After the rather unexpected posthumous return of Sara Kingdom in Home Truths, Simon Guerrier has a tricky problem for the sequel: how to combine Sara's unusual position of partial resurrection in the far future with the format-dictated reminiscence of an adventure with One and Steven. He does it very well, with future-Sara essentially on trial for her continued existence, recounting a rather eerie claustrophobic tale of a waterlogged asteroid, which ties in rather well psychologically to her existential dilemma. Very well done by Jean Marsh and Niall McGregor.

The events of 1688-90 period in England, Scotland and Ireland are ever so slightly controversial, among the decreasing minority who care, so I was interested to see how Jamie, Zoe and Two would fit into it - Big Finish has tackled similar bits of history very badly (The Marian Conspiracy) and very well (The Settling). Jonathan Morris is definitely towards the upper end of the scale with The Glorious Revolution, which takes Jamie back to the precise origin of his own personal history, with the crew landing in London in 1688 as James II's rule is tottering; on the one hand, we get a fair perspective that the Glorious Revolution was not especially glorious if you were not an English Protestant; on the other, James II was a pretty bad king, even though he had been an excellent military strategist in his brother's reign. Fraser Hines is excellent as a Jacobite who discovers that his hero has feet of clay; likewise Andrew Fettes as both James II and a Time Lord sent to investigate a potential time anomaly. I felt the plot itself didn't quite cohere in terms of the time-paradox sub-genre, but Morris's mostly excellent writing distracted me for most of the time. (The arbitrary executions of Judge Jeffreys, as depicted, are however out of place for 1688 in London; even the notorious Hanging Assizes actually had assizes.)

It's striking that both of these plays are flashbacks from the point of view of Sara and Jamie, respectively, and that the framing narrative is given a decent prominence.

Meanwhile the main narrative of Big Finish plays is staggering along:

The Company of Friends is actually four separate Eighth Doctor plays, each with a different companion: Benny Summerfield (who is mainly a Seventh Doctor companion but did appear in the first Eight Doctor spinoff novel), Fitz Kreiner (who is apparently in more Doctor Who books than any other companion), Izzy (from the DWM comics) and Mary Shelley (from out of nowhere). I must say I felt that a lot of this was not my personal canon, as Andrew Hickey would put it. The one I enjoyed most was with the companion I knew least, Izzy's story, with its very witty portrayal of late 70s comics fandom; the Fitz and Benny stories were OK, the Mary Shelley one didn't quite hang together for me.

I keep on enjoying the Six/Charley plays despite my inclination, and Patient Zero was no exception. The Doctor is absolutely aware that Charley Pollard is much more than she has admitted; but Charley now finds herself substituted by a mysterious invisible alien which takes over her very being; meanwhile the Doctor is defending himself from the Viyrans (boo!) and Daleks (yay!). A great set-up for the next two stories.

Big Finish has been moving towards story arcs - the Fifth Doctor / Guardians one earlier this year, for instance - and it is a welcome change of gear: The Company of Friends suffers a bit because it goes the other way (four stories, rather than a third of a story, in the one release). The Companion Chronicles, which ought by rights to be rather more format-bound, feel a bit more vibrant right now.
Tags: doctor who, doctor who: 01, doctor who: 02, doctor who: 06, doctor who: 08, doctor who: audio, writer: mary shelley
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