So January 2013 kicks-off the Destiny of the Doctor series with Hunters of Earth by Nigel Robinson a First Doctor story performed by Carole Ann Ford and co-starring Tam Williams. Having taken advantage of the download subscription (Get it while it’s hot!) I now have the pleasure of 11 more releases this year.
So how does this work? Does it seem like Big Finish or has the AudioGo collaboration changed things? Is it just a re-labelled Companion Chronicle?
Let’s set the scene with the Big Finish synopsis:
Shoreditch, London, 1963. The Beatles have beaten John Smith and the Common Men to No. 1 and satellites are being launched in outer space. Back down on Earth, strange goings-on are occurring: the normally placid teenagers of Coal Hill are running riot and a master thief is stealing highly specialised equipment.
Schoolgirl Susan Foreman just wants an easy life for herself and her grandfather, the mysterious Doctor. She wants to be liked and accepted by Cedric and all the other pupils at Coal Hill School. But there’s trouble in the streets and bombsites around Totter’s Lane.
The teenagers are becoming dangerous… Their mission: to hunt down anyone different, or alien… Susan’s quiet life is about to spiral out of control. Having inadvertently started drawing attention to herself, she finds herself drawn into a desperate situation. Suddenly, the chase is on and she and her grandfather are now the hunted
My summary of the plot is as follows: Susan and the Doctor have been in the Coal Hill area for four months and attracted the attention of a mysterious group who put them under surveillance. This involves an ex-Colonel posing as a teacher at the school, the staff at Magpie Electricals and Cedric, a sixth former who is almost a love interest for Susan.
Much of the plot centres around alienation (a café is run by a nice old Jewish lady given a lot of chances for reminders of World War II which is useful as it turns out that the actual threat is from an artefact that crashed nearby in the war. Four months ago building works disturbed its rest and it began experimenting on the local youth by the medium of pop music and mind control.
This all gives Susan plenty of chance to listen to her trusty transistor and also for gangs of youth to attack our heroes giving us some moments of tension. We even a have mysterious message from Radio Caroline to Susan and Cedric promoting Bob Dylan! (Update June 2013 – I meant to say we know now this was the Eleventh Doctor who pops up in every story).
All ends well with the Doctor never admitting to be not of the Earth and saving the day with a device cobbled together from some TV parts and salvaged alien tech.
I liked this and at the download series price I have no complaints at all. I find that November 1963 and Totters Lane is getting very crowded and wonder how the Colonel and Cedric missed the incoming Daleks that would appear in Remembrance (aka The One with the Greasy Spoon). I wonder how many cafés there are near Coal Hill! No doubt we will be very familiar with early 60s East London by Christmas!
The feel is very well linked to the opening of Unearthly Child and I liked the bits of linking out such as Magpie Electricals (of Idiot’s Lantern fame and also a cameo in The Beast Below); can it have been anyone other than the Seventh Doctor sending the message via Radio Caroline?
The style is not as of the Companion Chronicles (and I reread the DWM article which confirms this is deliberate); we have third person narrative like a standard talking book with first person action cut in. Carole Ann Ford does a decent job of being young Susan and Tam Williams does a good Cedric cut somewhat in the mould of the soldier in Remembrance that betrayed Ace yet liked her.
Overall with some flaws (I felt the Beatles v Dylan a bit heavy handed) and repetition of themes I liked this and with Susan’s premonition at the end I do have some interest in how this will all develop.
I would recommend this – what do you think? Let me know!