There’s a glaring problem with The Tenth Doctor Chronicles, one that’s being ignore by Big Finish. If you’ve taken the hours out of your life necessary to listen to all four stories, you’ve probably spotted it already. I hope so. If you haven’t done either then it falls to me to break the news. Big Finish forget to put Volume 1 in the title. The Tenth Doctor Chronicles are excellent and must, surely, lead to more.
I’d avoided listening to trailers, but had some sense of the quality of Jacob Dudman’s take on the Tenth Doctor from various forum postings. Let’s also pause for a moment to recall that David Tennant’s own performance was not his natural accent – like his Jessica Jones character, his English character is a persona. Let’s move on.
The first story (written by director Helen Goldwyn) starts where the whole set follows; you immediately think this is the Tenth Doctor. Now, it won’t be just the sound of the voice but also the pacing and the words as written (and nuanced by the direction). Even so it’s very, very strong and hard to imagine anyone else bar David Tennant needing to perform the role for Big Finish in the near future.
Now, on to the stories…
The four stories in the Tenth Doctor Chronicles
Helen Goldwyn’s opener is The Taste of Death and Jacob also gets to bring Rose to our ears (and many other parts) and is partnered with Arinzé Kene (the format is classic Companion Chronicles style reversed. Sort of!) as the Doctor and Rose explore the Bluestone’s luxury hotel world of MXQ1. Something isn’t right in the kitchen. It’s a pacy tale and a chance to bring back a monster from the new series (and they’re on the cover), but rest assured this is no rehabilitation.
The story makes some points about fine cuisine, but in the main it entertains. Rose gets plenty to do but nothing out of kilter with her role in the first Tenth Doctor season. This is curious, excited Rose, not super-gun wielding, Dalek-killer Rose. It’s a great listen and it’s hard not to come away thoroughly impressed by Jacob’s delivery. [The extras tell us the recording order, and it’s a good technique to not record the first story first if possible to ensure maximum impact then listeners get the final product]
Next we move forward to Martha Jones and Matthew J Elliott’s Backtrack. Martha is well-delineated, all medic and independent driving force. In terms of voice it may be my ears, but I found her move vanilla, which may just be a contrast to Rose’s dulcet London tones. The story involves time-travelling holiday makers and the inevitable ruthless businessman, John Culshaw’s Nathan Hobb. The web of drama survives having two such audio talents in the same story, and even if the setup is familiar, there is some integrity to Nathan Hobb and it’s another solid story.
Third up, James Goss brings back Donna’s mother, Sylvia Nobel (Jacqueline King) in Wild Pastures. Jacqueline is spot-on with recreation of Sylvia, and there must be a chance to have here and Jackie Tyler meet, surely?! This story makes Sylvia the main point of view as they explore sinister going ons at a rest home. It’s another rock-solid story and having a character reprised from the show itself is a real plus.
Last, but far from least is Guy Adams’s Last Chance with the doom-laden Doctor meeting Lady Christina de Souza once more in the form of Michelle Ryan. The character may owe more than a little to Lara Croft in inception, but so what? Michelle Ryan is wonderful back in the role she had in Planet of the Dead, and it’s not even a slight surprise we will hear her again soon in a UNIT boxset. The story is quirky and at times Guy seems to be channeling his namesake Douglas Adams. Along with a Jean Michelle Jarre sound-alike score, it’s a very distinctive story, and I did wonder part way if Lady Christina was going to be underused. I needn’t have worried, it’s a good story and brings out the sense of a Time Lord near the end of a regeneration with careful brushstrokes.
So a great set, and highly recommended!