A normal day in the office at UNIT HQ finds the Third Doctor re-appearing in the TARDIS wounded and clutching an alien refugee. No sooner do we take this in than a massive alien ship appears overhead and fearsome aliens are in pitched battle with the Brigadier’s men and chasing the doctor, trapping him in the car park on the way to Bessie. A fearsome alien gun is raised to kill the Doctor but Jo nobly and instinctively jumps in the way taking the blast. Thus we hear one of what will be 412 times that Jo Grant dies in the period of a few days!
Welcome to The Many Deaths of Jo Grant from the pens of Cavan Scott and Mark Wright.
I picked this tale up in the June 2012 special sales (see here) as it is one of three nominated for the Scribe awards. I like the Forge stories (which I must blog about) by the same pairing and it is also pointed out in the extras that they also write (for Katy) the Iris Wildthyme plays (which I haven’t [yet] heard). How did I find this story?
We are ‘treated’ to three deaths of the many Jo goes through before she starts to understand what is actually happening. My first thoughts that this must be a time-wimey story wore incorrect (gladly) though the actual set-up was no more original unfortunately. The authors did still put in some different slants though and the ‘why’ was in the end more clever than the how (I am trying to avoid to many spoilers).
I mused as to how effective all this can be – we know who does and doesn’t die when (for the most part) and this kind of story though it pushes the envelope of the possible in the end can’t work on the level at which it is pitched. What does work though is taking it from Jo’s point of view; she genuinely goes through a whole range of events which each cause her to sacrifice her life for the Doctor’s. This is real to her.
As to the aliens, part of their why is not understanding the motives behind self-sacrifice, for me this works as a plot device. We also in passing have an excellent scene where many other deaths are covering in rapid fire, including when Jo threw herself in front of the Flying Scotsman. For me that fleshed out the story in a way that trying to cram in more vignettes would not have.
Of course we have a happy ending, we always would.
Katy is wonderful as Jo and also when covering the Doctor’s part. Her Brigadier is slightly less impressive as she herself says in the extras. Nicholas Asbury gets to cover wide range of roles as different versions of a character called Rowe, given us a brief sample of his talents. Lisa Bowerman directed and this is yet again up to the normal (high) production standards.
It is a good story, maybe it might have been even better. How? Well if I knew I would be writing the stories not blogging about them (there’s an idea!).
So I liked it a lot but have heard better – what did you think? Will you be voting for Doctor Who and the Flying Scotsman to be produced? Let me know, do.