Andrew Smith kicks of the brand new Early Adventures range with the story Domain of the Voord. This is a First Doctor story over two discs and includes a full cast (Daisy Ashford, Andrew Dickens and Andrew Bone) alongside William Russell and Carole Ann Ford.
The series is seen by fans as replacing the Companion Chronicles: that may be unfair but we should play the hand we are dealt. How was this, and do the Voord make more impact than they did many years ago in Keys of Marinus, the original Terry Nation story?
First up the synopsis from the product page:
The Doctor, Susan, Ian and Barbara land on the planet Hydra, where Admiral Jonas Kaan leads a vast flotilla of ships trying to elude the vicious race that has invaded and occupied their world. But his ships are being picked off one by one, vessels and crews dragged underwater by an unseen foe.
The time travellers find themselves pitched into battle against the Voord, the ruthless enemy they last encountered on the planet Marinus. As they take the fight to the very heart of the territory now controlled by the Voord the stakes get higher. First they lose the TARDIS… then they lose that which they hold most dear. And that’s only the start of their troubles.
In the capital, Predora City, they will learn the truth of what it means to be a Voord. And that truth is horrifying.
As ever the crew arrive on a new world (Hydra) and are treated with suspicion. The TARDIS is lost, then (it appears) so are Barbara and the Doctor. Searching and adapting to what may become their permanent home, Susan and Ian slowly peel back the masks (literally) that separate the Voord from everyone else learning much about their enemy. Even though they are ultimately reunited with their comrades and the TARDIS the mood of the final stages is so dark that this fails to lift the mood.
[pullquote]a dark, brooding tale[/pullquote]
Despite the succinct summary above, this is all about the listening experience. The opening shot is a brief piece of narrative almost describing a lost recording (and others have compared this to Lost Stories rather than a Companion Chronicle) then we move to action interspersed with narration. In the absence of Hartnell and Wright, Andrew Smith takes their characters off-stage and allows time to move on. I liked this and it added to the bleak mood. Even the finding of the TARDIS doesn’t provide a resolution merely the punctuation in a dark, brooding tale.
The music and sound deserve to be heard – I made the mistake of not listening on headphones for the first disc and not turning the sound up enough.
The use of other actors helps expand the feel of this though the separation between Barbara and Susan (when together) doesn’t work in all cases (a minor quibble).
This is really not a next generation Companion Chronicles, nor is it quite Lost Stories I think it is a blend of both and its own thing. The impact of this story is full on even with what appears to be a methodical build. There is much to like here and much to be optimistic about for the rest of the season.