Review: Doctor Who the Companion Chronicles – Home Truths

Home_TruthsBlurb: There’s a house across the waters at Ely where an old woman tells a strange story.

About a kind of night constable called Sara Kingdom. And her friends, the Doctor and Steven. About a journey they made to a young couple’s home, and the nightmarish things that were found there. About the follies of youth and selfishness. And the terrible things even the most well-meaning of us can inflict on each other.

Hear the old woman’s story. Then decide her fate.

Review: Of all the companions that Big Finish could work with, Sara Kingdom was the most likely. Since she only appeared in the final nine episodes of a single serial, The Daleks Master Plan, it didn’t seem possible for her to have any unseen adventures with the Doctor and Steven. Yet, Big Finish decided to exploit the fact that episode seven of The Daleks Master Plan does not contain a cliffhanger for episode 8. With Sara’s characterization changing somewhat in the later episodes, it seemed possible that maybe she did have a few more adventures with the Doctor and Steven than what had been seen on TV. It created a great opportunity for Big Finish, since Sara has a tremendous backstory to exploit. She started as a blindly obedient agent of the futuristic Space Security Service who doesn’t even question the order to murder her brother, Bret Vyon, when it’s given by the Guardian of the Solar System, Mavic Chen. Her obedience leads her to do the deed and to hunt the Doctor and Steven as criminals until they prove to her that Chen has sold out the human race to the Daleks. Then she swears vengeance on Chen even as she travels with Steven and the Doctor to protect the taranium core that the Daleks covet. Writer Simon Guerrier who had written a short story for Sara Kingdom was asked to write the story, and Big Finish prepared to reintroduce the character to modern audiences with Home Truths. Continue reading “Review: Doctor Who the Companion Chronicles – Home Truths” »

Review: Doctor Who the Companion Chronicles – The Anachronauts

AnachronautsBlurb: An experimental timeship smashes into the TARDIS, and the crews of both ships wake up on a desert island. Has the TARDIS been destroyed? And why doesn’t the Doctor want to escape?

Then, Steven and Sara find themselves on the wrong side of the Berlin Wall in 1966. And their only way back to the TARDIS is to betray the Doctor.

Review: Big Finish had wanted to reunite Peter Purves and Jean Marsh in an audio adventure for some time. Both Purves and Marsh had had successful trilogies in The Companion Chronicles range written by Simon Guerrier. With Purves expressing interest in working with Marsh again, it seemed obvious to put the two together sooner rather than later. A double-length Companion Chronicle was commissioned, but the author was unable to meet the deadline. Instead, fan favorite Simon Guerrier was asked to create a replacement at the last minute. The result was The Anachronauts. Continue reading “Review: Doctor Who the Companion Chronicles – The Anachronauts” »

Review: Doctor Who the Companion Chronicles – Upstairs

dwcc0803_upstairs_1417_cover_largeBlurb: When the TARDIS lands in a dilapidated attic, the Doctor, Vicki and Steven discover they are on Earth, in London… in Number 10 Downing Street.

However alien forces are at play here, affecting the very fabric of the building… and adjusting the very essence of history itself.

Review: The final full season of The Companion Chronicles saw a focus on the first Doctor’s era. Every companion except for Sara Kingdom got a new story. Upstairs put together the team of Maureen O’Brien, reprising her role as Vicki, and Peter Purves, once again playing astronaut Steven Taylor. O’Brien hadn’t done much work for Big Finish by that point, but Purves was one of their regulars having done over a half dozen audio dramas this point. Upstairs allowed Purves to take a backseat to O’Brien who gets the lion’s share of the work, narrating the story as Vicki and also doing the voice work for all of the characters other than Steven, whom Purves plays. It allows this story to do something a little different and present listeners with a dynamic that only existed on TV for 3 serials before O’Brien left the series. Continue reading “Review: Doctor Who the Companion Chronicles – Upstairs” »

Review: Doctor Who the Companion Chronicles – Frostfire

dwcc0101_frostfire_1417_cover_largeBlurb: Vicki has a tale to tell.
But where does it start and when does it end?

Ancient Carthage. 1164 BC.
Lady Cressida has a secret. She keeps it deep in the cisterns below the Temple of Astarte with only one flame for warmth. And it must never get out.

Regency London, 1814 AD.
The first Doctor, Steven and Vicki go to the fair and meet the fiery Dragon, the novelist Miss Austen and the deadliest weather you ever did see.

But which comes first?
The Future or the Past?
The Phoenix or the Egg?
The Fire or the Frost?
Or will Time freeze over forever?

Review: Back in 2007, Big Finish wanted to expand the range of the Doctor Who stories that they could tell. At the time, they only had access to the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th Doctors. They were eager to tell stories for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Doctors, because they knew that fandom was eager for new stories with those characters and in the style of those eras. Also, so many of actors of former Doctor Who companions were willing to work with them, but they hadn’t thought of a way to use them except by giving some of them a new role or by having a story where the Doctor meets them at a later date. Suddenly, someone had an idea. They could tell stories from the point of view of the companions in small productions where the companion interacts with one other actor. From that beginning The Companion Chronicles were born, and Frostfire was the first of these stories. Continue reading “Review: Doctor Who the Companion Chronicles – Frostfire” »

Review: Doctor Who the Companion Chronicles – The Suffering

dwcc0407_thesuffering_1417_cover_largeBlurb: The TARDIS materializes in England in the year 1912, a time of great social change. The Suffragette movement is lobbying for votes for women, and the skull of the so-called ‘missing link’ has been discovered in Piltdown.

While Vicki falls victim to a strange influence, the Doctor and Steven investigate the fossilized remains. The Suffering has been unleashed. Can the travelers survive its rage?

Review: The Companion Chronicles are one of several Doctor Who audio drama ranges that Big Finish produces. Typically, a Companion Chronicle has one of the companions relate a tale from the time with the Doctor. They’ll speak for all of the parts except for one, which will be voiced by another actor to help break up the monotony. Also, Companion Chronicles are typically two episodes long. Sometimes this helps to bring up the pace on stories that might otherwise drag due to the narration, although sometimes the shorter format presents problems as well. The Suffering is unusual because it features two companions who each take an equal part in the narrating duties, and the story is a double-length four episodes. Continue reading “Review: Doctor Who the Companion Chronicles – The Suffering” »

Review: Doctor Who the Companion Chronicles – The Time Museum

dwcc0701_thetimemuseum_1417_cover_largeBlurb: Ian finds himself in a shrine to his own past, and on the run with a man named Pendolin.

From Coal Hill School to Jobis Station, from Totter’s Yard to the Crusades, Ian’s history is unfolding.

And a confrontation with a deadly enemy with a voracious appetite awaits…

Review: For the most part, The Companion Chronicles have been tales that the companions have related about their time with the Doctor. There’s some variation. From time-to-time the stories have been presented “live”, without narration. It then becomes a play with a very small cast. The Time Museum is different. This is a story about Ian Chesterton fifty years or so after he stopped traveling with the Doctor, synchronizing him with William Russell who plays the part. It’s an effective device for increasing the drama of the story. With typical Companion Chronicles the audience is aware that the Doctor and his companions will survive. In a story told years later, anything could happen. It’s that extra element of danger from unexplored territory that makes this story so utterly engaging, and it’s a shame that more Companion Chronicles weren’t done in this style. Very briefly, Ian gets to have a story devoted just to him, something that only Sarah Jane has really experienced before. Continue reading “Review: Doctor Who the Companion Chronicles – The Time Museum” »

Review: Doctor Who the Companion Chronicles – The Sleeping City

dwcc0808_thesleepingcity_1417_cover_largeBlurb: After travelling with the Doctor through time and space, Ian Chesterton is back in his own time. But the mystery of how he and Barbara Wright disappeared in the year 1963 has alerted the authorities – and both are suspected of being enemy agents in the Cold War.

Ian protests his innocence. He has a story to tell about traveling through time and space.

And one adventure in particular – a visit to the city of Hisk…

Review: A city on a distant world in the far future, mysterious murders, a society that revolves around a machine capable of a fantastic science-fiction concept, and the Doctor getting into the middle of it. You’d be forgiven for thinking that it was the plot of actual 60’s Doctor Who serial, but it’s actually the premise for the last Companion Chronicle to date to feature William Russell as Ian Chesterton. Ian deals with the aftermath of returning home after a two year absence and tells a tale about the city of Hisk. It’s a world where everyone uses a machine that allows them to share their dreams, but it’s also a world plagued by numerous seeming suicides. Ian’s story seems unconnected with what’s going on around him, but figuring out why he’s telling the tale is part of what makes the story so engaging. Continue reading “Review: Doctor Who the Companion Chronicles – The Sleeping City” »

Review: Doctor Who the Companion Chronicles – The Rocket Men

dwcc602_therocketmen_1417_cover_largeBlurb: The TARDIS has landed on Platform Five, a floating city in the sky of the planet Jobis, and for a time the Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Vicki get the chance to enjoy this idyllic place.

And then the Rocket Men arrive, led by the sadistic Ashman.

When the only other option to certain death is suicide, Ian Chesterton takes the gamble of his life…

Review: “When do you know?” Is it when you see the amazing concept of the story? Is it when you see the terrific cover art, that’s so fantastically retro? Is it when you read the review that tells you that the story is worth your while? The Rocket Men starts off with companion Ian Chesterton asking questions similar to the ones above. It’s a bit different from the typical Companion Chronicle where there’s a clear framing sequence describing when and why the companion is telling the story to someone else. This line of questioning gives an immediacy to the action, making it appear as if Ian is talking directly to the listener. It also gives some foreshadowing of what’s going to happen in the story while also creating a thematic hook as Ian returns to the questions throughout the narrative. It’s a clever concept and one which works astonishing well. Continue reading “Review: Doctor Who the Companion Chronicles – The Rocket Men” »

Review: Doctor Who the Companion Chronicles – Starborn

dwcc0809_starborn_1417_cover_largeBlurb: On a visit to early 20th Century Earth, Vicki receives a warning – if she leaves in the TARDIS, then she will die.

Unable to join her friends, Vicki is given an audience by a psychic called Violet, who contacts voices beyond this mortal plain.

And one of those voices is Vicki herself, who reveals what will happen at the ship’s next landing place – and what terrible fate awaits…

Review: Starborn is one of only four Companion Chronicles that Maureen O’Brien performed for Big Finish. It’s amazing that O’Brien is doing anything Doctor Who related at all. For years she wanted nothing to do with the program and had little if anything positive to say about her time on it. That has changed in recent years. O’Brien works steadily for Big Finish, first doing Companion Chronicles and Lost Stories and now also doing The Early Adventures. Teamed with veteran writer Jacqueline Rayner, known for stories like The Transit of Venus and The Suffering, this story promised something a little different from the standard Companion Chronicle. Continue reading “Review: Doctor Who the Companion Chronicles – Starborn” »

Review: Doctor Who the Companion Chronicles – The Revenants

therevenants-cover_cover_largeBlurb: The present day: the Orkney Ferry, where Ian Chesterton meets a stranger who he is able to confide in.

Decades earlier: the TARDIS lands on Orkney, and Ian and Barbara are abandoned when the Doctor and his ship vanish in front of their eyes. As the pair head for civilization, something is stirring in the treacherous bog lands.

And only the ancient Wissfornjarl can protect them…

Review: Unlike most of Big Finish’s Companion Chronicles range, The Revenants was never released as a stand-alone CD. It was originally released as a free bonus story to subscribers to Doctor Who Magazine. It was later included as a bonus CD on the Special Edition of Big Finish’s 50th anniversary celebratory story, The Light at the End. As a result, there’s no CD cover image to use. The closest thing is the very basic image that Big Finish put on their website for the download link. That’s what is used for this review. Continue reading “Review: Doctor Who the Companion Chronicles – The Revenants” »