Doctor Who: The Beginning [Big Finish – The Companion Chronicles]

Back in 2013, lots of people connected with Doctor Who was finding ways to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the adventures of everybody’s favorite Time Lord…unless you’re a really big fan of Morbius or something.  Anyway, the folks at Big Finish, who have been producing original licensed audio dramas based on Doctor Who since 1999.  They did the big multi-Doctor drama The Light at the End, which was my gateway into the wares of Big Finish (read about it here), but they also produced this release in their Companion Chronicles series, The Beginning, starring Carole Ann Ford.

Doctor Who Big Finish The Beginning

The Companion Chronicles is a series of dramas which generally feature one (sometimes more) actors who played companions on the series–usually from the first decade or so of its existence–playing opposite one other guest actor–telling a story using a mix of narration and dialogue.  The Beginning is only the second of these titles that I have heard, so I don’t really have a handle on the format yet, but still this was an enjoyable drama which ostensibly fills in a early gap in the series’ history.

The story, written by Doctor Who veteran Marc Platt, starts with the Doctor and his granddaughter Susan making their escape from Gallifrey.  There are deliberate references to TV episodes like Remembrance of the Daleks (he seems to have the Hand of Omega with him) and to Time and the Doctor (the Doctor’s conversation with the splinter of Clara Oswald which directed him to the “correct” TARDIS is hinted at), but the story avoids actually explaining why they are so urgently fleeing their home planet.  I suppose that even with the anniversarial quality of it all, nobody at Big Finish wanted to tie themselves down that tightly.

Instead, the plot concerns itself with what happens immediately afterward, with the Doctor and Susan discovering that there was somebody else in the TARDIS, a Time Lord engineer with the unlikely name of Quadrigger Stoyn, played by Terry Molloy, who is best known to Doctor Who fans as the 1980’s incarnation of Davros, the creator of the Daleks.  Stoyn sees the Doctor and Susan as criminals, and spends the story threatening them and betraying them to the Archaeons, an alien species who have helped begin life on earth as part of a gardening exercise, and are really stressed out that things have gotten a bit out of control.

This Companion Chronicles feel a bit hampered the limited number of characters and amount of dramatic interaction on offer, but it still manages to tell a reasonably engaging story once you adjust to the format.  Terry Molloy is good in his roles (he also plays the main Archaeon, who shifts itself into a facsimile of Stoyn), and Carole Ann Ford is fine as Susan, one of the show’s co-stars from way back in 1963.  She is evidently older, but the idea seems to be that Susan is telling us the story from some distant point in the future. She also essentially plays the Doctor, as his dialogue is conveyed in her voice, imitating William Hartnell’s vocal mannerisms.  Again, the effect takes a moment to get used to, but once you do it works pretty well and does not keep the story from being immersive.

Quadrigger Stoyn, incidentally, ends this story shouting out his promises for revenge against the Doctor, and attempts to get it in the following two Companion Chronicles–The Dying Light featuring Jamie and Zoe, and Luna Romana, featuring various incarnations of Romana.

In the end, The Beginning is a fine adventure.  It does not really feel like much of an anniversary celebration, but just as a story, it is at least passable and ultimately quite enjoyable.

3 thoughts on “Doctor Who: The Beginning [Big Finish – The Companion Chronicles]

  1. Why do you not watch it anymore? You don’t like the current state of the show, you don’t have time, you don’t have access, or something else?

  2. I really don’t have time or access. The state of the show is not a bother to me as I’m okay with where it’s been AND where it’s headed.

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