I’m catching up with some listening, and it’s time to talk Companion Chronicles The First Doctor Volume 2. It’s a great set of stories, and producer Ian Atkins has really pushed the envelope on the art of the possible with this set.
You want more? Oh, alright then!
The First Doctor Volume 2
John Pritchard kicks off the set with Fields of Terror, an historical story narrated by Maureen o’Brien as Steven and Vicki arrive in Revolutionary France. We are treated (and that’s the wrong word) to a tale of the grim reality of war and inhumanity, made all the worse by a horror stalking the TARDIS crew as they try to make their way back to the TARDIS. The story tantalises as it flirts with the other-worldly, and the supporting cast do wonders with their parts.
Second is David Bartlett’s Across the Darkened City. It’s a first person tale for Peter Purves as Steven Taylor, teamed up with of all things a Dalek as they try to survive the planet Shade and the Chaons. It’s very different from the normal run of Dalek stories, and Nick Briggs is in good form as he gets to show how you can act even through a ring modulator. It’s a powerful tale, well summarised by Nick in the extras.
A switch to Bonfire Night in 1950s Lewes gives writer Una McCormack a chance to threaten Ben and Polly with the Bonfire Boys and various imps, as Anneke Wills narrates a story set in the final stages of the First Doctor‘s incarnation. Elliot Chapman is also back as Ben Jackson, and to my ear is even better than he was before. The story is about standing up for what’s right and (I cribbed this from the extras) a slight dig at demagogic forces in society. It’s a more subtle story and (perhaps) struggles a bit sandwiched between two very distinctive stories.
It will be no surprise to hear of Guy Adams writing a brilliant story in the shape of The Plague of Dreams, and this another Ben and Polly story almost on the close of William Hartnell’s time in the TARDIS. I won’t spoil, but it needs to be listened to and wondered at. Elliot Chapman not only plays Ben but also a new character, the Player and does a spot of narration and even a First Doctor invocation. It’s a clever, clever story that takes a look at the fourth wall, then pokes several sticks through it and twists it in a pretzel. It works on lots and lots of levels, before bringing the set to a satisfactory close. For many people this will be the best story of the set, and it certainly impresses, but is the kind of tale that can’t be told too often.
The extras include not only the compulsory interviews and insights, but also a lot from sound design / music maestro Robert Harvey. If you don’t normally listen, do take the time on these, particularly if you want to know more about post-production.
Overall a great set of stories, and fingers crossed for more!