Thursday, 8 September 2011

Doctor Who The Companion Chronicles - The Rocket Men

This, the latest in the Big Finish Companion Chronicles, is a strange beast.
I could not help but thinking while I was listening to it that it really shouldn’t work.
The story is set somewhere in the second series, with companions Barbara, Vicky and Ian, who is the narrator. In fact, I was somewhat surprised to hear William Russell doing this. I had assumed that he had long since retired from the acting game, but he does a sterling job here, and you can sense him warming to the story as it goes along.
Anyway - why it should not work. As I said, it is set within the second series, but the location here is so very far beyond anything the BBC budget could have grasped for.
Here, the Doctor and the TARDIS crew visit a holiday resort that is situated on a series of hovering platforms within the mantle of a gas giant planet, and while they are there the resort is attacked by an army of rocket pack wearing space pirates.
But even though it is well outside what would have been achievable on the TV series, this, amazingly, feels like something from those early days of Who. The atmosphere is palpably Hartnell era, which is helped in no small way by Russell’s narration.
And the tale itself, while being a good one, plays second fiddle to the clever structure, as the story flits backwards and forwards along its timeline, and in doing so provides the listener with a rather nice twist that, in retrospect, I should really think of as cheating, but in reality cannot help but admire the writer’s cheek at using it!

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