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The Companion Chronicles: Frostfire

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Vampyros Adric
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« on: September 14, 2012, 12:18:10 am »

When I can't sleep I listen to Big Finish Audio Productions. The great the depth of my insomnia, the more left field the choice of my listening. The Companion Chronicles is a series of stories that feature the Doctor but are told by one of his former companions (and generally only involve one other voice actor taking part). Lasting an hour in length, they are almost like "augmented" and dramatised audiobooks. The first story, released in 2007 seemed as good a place as any to start...


Here is what the good folk at Big Finish have to say about the whole affair..

"Vicki has a tale to tell.
But where does it start and when does it end?
 
Ancient Carthage. 1164 BC.
Lady Cressida has a secret. She keeps it deep in the cisterns below the Temple of Astarte with only one flame for warmth. And it must never get out.
 
Regency London, 1814 AD.
The first Doctor, Steven and Vicki go to the fair and meet the fiery Dragon, the novelist Miss Austen and the deadliest weather you ever did see.
 
But which comes first?
The Future or the Past?
The Phoenix or the Egg?
The Fire or the Frost?
Or will Time freeze over forever?"


The "meat" of the story is set in Regency London - where the TARDIS lands on the frozen river Thames. The Doctor, Vicki and Steven meet a series of colourful characters and get embroiled in the search for a rare, alien Pheonix Egg that threatens all life on Earth. This, however, in no way conveys the wonderful complexity and depth of this story. We are told, arguably for the first time, the direct impact of a companion leaving the TARDIS and setting up life away from the Doctor. Vicki didn't go home - she stayed in ancient Greece. Love conquers all; but what happens on the days where love doesn't and you miss your 23rd century bed and yearn for one more adventure with that irascible old scientist in his magical blue box. The subtext is running throughout this story and from that, the plot is woven around the idea of a reminiscence. This immediately makes the listener comfortable with the narrative format.

More than any other format, a duel-actor, companion chronicle is utterly dependent on the skill of the writer and in Marc Platt, this story benefits from the finest writer in the (illustrious) Big Finish stable. A classic series veteran, he provides a wonderful texture to his characters. Jane Austin turns up and is given a wonderful treatment. The First Doctor has his voice wonderfully realised as does Steven. The supporting characters are fleshed out beautifully and the novel time-loop device which links the main story and Vicki's current story provides a very satisfying pay-off for the listener. As seems to be standard with BF productions, the soundscape and production values are wonderful. But a special mention must go to the incidental music, which beautifully mimics the music of early 1960s Doctor Who. This runs for 60 minutes, which is a perfect length (some of the BF productions run over 2 discs and this seems a little overlong for me).

This series is a wonderful addition to the BF portfolio, and in Marc Platt they have gone for a writer who can deliver an intricate and sophisticated plot. Maureen O'Brien is wonderful in holding the whole thing together with a calm, elegant first person narrative and I simply cannot recommend this story enough.

Right, time for a quick nap methinks Smiley
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hannahcole93
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« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2012, 08:38:01 am »

I like the sound of this one Smiley
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« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2012, 08:52:59 pm »

I've never really listened to the Big Finish audios... Although I have been tempted to once or twice. Some of them, like this one, sound really good. Are they worth a listen?
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« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2012, 08:57:14 pm »

That's an hilarious photoshop job on Vicki Grin
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Vampyros Adric
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« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2012, 09:13:48 pm »

I've never really listened to the Big Finish audios... Although I have been tempted to once or twice. Some of them, like this one, sound really good. Are they worth a listen?

They really are - and actually they are the main way I get my "Who" fix these days. They have some amazing writers and they are not bound by budget restrictions so their scope can be a lot broader. There are some lemons in there but by and large the stories are remarkably consistent.

If you want a good jumping off point, I would be tempted to look at Paul McGann's first season opener "Storm Warning" (I wrote a review of it a while ago (http://www.thedoctorinthetardis.com/index.php/topic,444.0.html) it will give you an idea of whether you'll enjoy them or not.
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