As November gets under way Big Finish give us the first of three Companion Chronicles that will make a story telling how Quadrigger Stoyn met the Doctor in three different incarnations. The Beginning, released in the anniversary month, is written by Marc Platt (Lungbarrow and much else) and as the name suggests is the first story of the First Doctor‘s travels in the TARDIS with Susan (played wonderfully by Carole Ann Ford). Set right at the point of their escape from Gallifrey this is a pivotal moment that has been the subject of much fan debate for decades. How good a job has Marc Platt done facing this challenge?
Setting the scene, the Big Finish product page tells us this:
When the First Doctor and his grand-daughter Susan escape through the cloisters of Gallifrey to an old Type 40 Time Travel capsule, little do they realize the adventures that lie ahead… And little do they know, as the TARDIS dematerializes and they leave their home world behind, there is someone else aboard the ship. He is Quadrigger Stoyn, and he is very unhappy…
The story starts right at the point where the Doctor and Susan are fleeing Gallifrey and steal a capsule. Not knowing Quadrigger Stoyn is onboard he is injured when the TARDIS engines are fired up – he was on board readying the vessel for destruction and is not best pleased at being taken from his home.
They randomly arrive near Earth but it is far back in time when an alien race are populating the planet. Stoyn and the Doctor vie for control of the TARDIS which allows the aliens access. In the confusion a time bubble is created and whoosh millions of years go by. Humanity has evolved and they have Susan and the Doctor and are in a first contact scenario. The aliens learn that their perfect planned world has evolved uncontrolled and seek to wipe the planet of life and start again.
Everything ends well in the end with Stoyn trapped outside the TARDIS and humanity saved. This begins the Doctor’s fascination with humanity.
Marc Platt is a good choice to protect the continuity of this point in canon. Using Susan as a naive point of view (Carole Ann Ford feels really authentic in this in terms of being the young yet alien girl we first met in An Unearthly Child) we find out that grandfather has some floating luggage (the Hand of Omega that would appear 25 years later in Remembrance of the Daleks); they go into first one capsule then a second while grandfather talks to somebody outside (no doubt Clara in the Name of the Doctor sequence). All the way through Marc Platt is careful to nod to continuity and spin a tale in which we see the ruthless side of the Doctor un-tempered as yet by his experiences with his many companions. The introduction of the Doctor’s fascination with the human race is also treated with great style.
Terry Molloy as the accidentally traveller does a good job of going from annoyed to angry to wrathful and brings his unsympathetic, though put upon character to life in excellent manner. Next stop the Second Doctor and part two of what promises to be another classic trilogy.
I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating; as the Companion Chronicles winds down, the quality has not diminished and this is another great adventure that I for one will enjoy again and again.