01/06/2011. Contributed by Sue Davies
pub: Big Finish. 2 CDs 120 minute anthology. Price: CD: GBP 12.99 (UK), Download: GBP 10.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84435-548-8) cast: William Russell, David Troughton, Katy Manning, Louise Jameson, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sophie Aldred and India Fisher
check out web site www.BigFinish.com
This is the second set of Big Finish short stories read by the actors associated with the Doctor Whos from one to eight.
1963 by Niall Boyce - read by William Russell
The TARDIS is uncontrollable, ricocheting through time and space, so when it accidentally lands back in London in 1963, the humans on board are thrilled. Something is wrong though as the world has simply stopped. After walking on the glassy Thames, Ian and Barbara are forced to consider what happens next. They are home but like Peter Pan the window is shut and they are outside looking in.
Thoughtful and witty, this story has a mournful quality of loss about it. Being set at the moment of the TV Doctor’s inception it manages to reference the changing political and social climate in the days following Kennedy’s assassination.
The Way Forwards by Steve Case - read by David Troughton
When a young lad discovers how to make a time machine he’s very proud and happy to be at the science fair. His visitor, a funny little man who looks a little like a clown is eager to help him complete it. But beware of meddling with time because time can run out quite quickly.
This quirky story has the spirit of the Second Doctor and deals with the well-worn time-travel dilemmas in a thought-provoking way.
Walls Of Confinement by Lawrence Conquest - read by Katy Manning
With the Doctor banished to Earth by the Time Lords, time can weigh heavily and there’s no space to enjoy. The Brigadier seems to get just what the Doctor needs and sends him off to the zoo with his nephew. But is the Doctor too preoccupied to look after the lad properly and soon there is trouble.
I am convinced this writer must have heard the monologue ‘Albert And The Lion’ by Stanley Holloway as a child. There are definite references to this classic from the early twentieth century. This also brings to mind the raffish looks and comedic background of the Third Doctor and with a mention of the Brigadier has a certain elegiac quality.
Chain Reaction by Darren Goldsmith - read by Louise Jameson
On a sunny afternoon the Lord of Time and Space conducts a spatial experiment which results in a convoluted and amusing chain of events and all because Leela went shopping.
This one takes some following and it moves as fast as the coin. I must remember to take notes next time I listen.
Sock Pig by Sharon Cobb and Iain Keiller - read by Peter Davison
Loss is a terrible thing and she only has a few possessions that remind her of Ralph. One is a pig made of an old sock. He is an inanimate object but a point of remembrance as she struggles to understand death and grief. When the pig and other household objects come to life, she is torn between the wrongness of the situation and protecting this gift of life from the mysterious and interfering Doctor.
This one is read by the Fifth Doctor and if ever you thought you could read for audio have a close listen to this as the nuance is so much more professional. Listen out for some bon mots as well, my favourite is ‘emptied her bonnet of the usual bees’. Be prepared to shed tears in between the amusing parts of this story. It’s very touching and deals with the subject of grief in a subtle but moving way.
The Doctor’s Coat by John Bromley - read by Colin Baker
It’s hard to imagine anyone or anything wanting the Doctor’s gaudy coat but on a visit to a delightfully warm and sunny planet he discovers that it has become quite attractive to the indigenous species. That would be fine, but that’s not the only thing that’s missing.
Although aimed at the amusing end of the spectrum this does include some deep thoughts about the ultimate fate of Peri and how many coats the Doctor has. Both are a matter of some dispute and the canon version is yet to be decided…another one up for discussion.
Critical Mass by James Moran - read by Sophie Aldred
Total war is a terrible thing and how great to have a weapon to end it all but just who is going to win this battle? Ace and the Doctor feel the weight of the conflict when they are the only ones who might stop it. Could they just walk away and save themselves?
Vivid imagery and morality of war figure highly in this story and it’s an intense experience that almost feels like a two-part drama except that it is read and acted by Sophie Aldred. I feel that the Doctor comes across as a little too Scottish here but apart from that minor niggle it’s an excellent piece which comes across strongly.
Letting Go by Simon Guerrier - read by India Fisher
Charley wants to tell the truth no matter what the consequences. Her encounter with an alien life form becomes an exercise in understanding as she tries to explain to his family his heroic sacrifice.
Charley has been travelling with the Doctor for a few weeks and she admits she’s smitten. But she has to cope with death and destruction and deciding when telling a white lie might be kinder.
All of the stories are beautifully delivered and they make a marked change from the quite long audio adventures we normally listen to. The excellent music and sound effects background to each story fills in the gaps often felt in more barebones audio books. It also breaks up the storytelling with more dramatic presentation which makes quite a difference to the experience.
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