Review: The third volume of First Doctor adventures brings us a mixed bag of stories, which include a riff on superpowered heroes as well as a run-in with the Vardan’s who have a diabolical plot. All the included stories focus on an exploration of heroism.
E is For… by Julian Richards
The first story ‘E is For…’ by Julian Richards sees Susan wind up on a planet called Malkus where new types of monstrosities are born every day. They call these people The Gifted and hunt them down for the crime of being different. Susan having been separated from the Tardis crew finds herself imprisoned due to the fact that she has telepathic abilities. While there she meets another person with abilities who used to work for the system and help hunt down The Gifted. As she gets to know this person she learns that the biggest monster lies in the very heart of the system that serves to protect its people.
Daybreak by John Pritchard
‘Daybreak’ by John Pritchard sees Vicki having to put on a brave face as she is interrogated and treated as a war criminal in the middle of a war, which seems to have been going on for a long time. The story uses flashbacks in a nice effective way and Vicki’s battle of words with her tormentor is wonderfully performed.
The Vardan Invasion of Mirth by Paul Morris and Ian Atkins
The third story ‘ The Vardan Invasion of Mirth’ is a really fun story from Paul Morris, which sees Steven and the Doctor land in London of 1956, but things are not as they seem. When the Doctor mysteriously disapears it is up to Steven to explore and get to the bottom of things. As the story develops Steven finds that the key to finding the Doctor is a comedian, who is winding down his career as a guest star in television shows.
The Crumbling Magician by Guy Adams
This final story is perhaps the creepiest of them all. When the Tardis crashes the Doctor, Ben and Polly find themselves separated and in the care of a hospital ran by a somewhat malicious A.I. program calling itself continuity. The Doctor’s body is failing him. Polly is badly hurt and seems to be time-traveling back and forth, but out of context and Ben is relatively healthy and talking to another patient called Allie who is likely key to helping them escape.
As with all of these Big Finish boxsets. The acting is so good across the board that it can be really difficult to point out the best performances. Carole Ann Ford is really good in E is For… as she slowly drives us through the narrative of the story as we slowly learn what has happened on Malkus to create such a terrible police state.
But for me, the best performance from the set comes from David Warner who is given the unique opportunity to play an 8-year-old boy, who is trapped in the body of a 70-year-old man. As to how. Well that’s all a bit timey wimey.
This is a great mix of stories, which once again illustrates why The Companion Chronicles has become such a popular yearly series from the guys at Big Finish. The four stories are all very different, but all illustrate what heroism is in different ways.
I really enjoyed the conversation between Allie and Ben in which Ben was telling Allie that no one ever really sets out to be a hero, but the least they can hope to do is just be a good person despite being afraid sometimes of what that may entail.
Overall. A really nice set of stories.
- INCIDENTAL MUSIC AND SOUND FX10