‘The Companion Chronicles’ has one of the Doctor’s many companions telling their own story and essentially being the centre of that story with the Doctor either absent to offering a minimal guiding hand. ‘The Second Doctor Volume 3’ has both Jamie and Zoe featuring in two adventures each.
The Death Of The Daleks by George Mann
Jamie and the Doctor have just returned from Skaro. When they land on Tersimmon, they have an unexplained encounter in what seems to be a post-war zone. Despite the fact that there is hardly anyone left, there is a killer lurking in the ruins which seems determined to take down the last human. Jamie thinks there is something wrong with the Doctor when says he has seen a Dalek, which is impossible surely if they all died on Skaro?
Emma Samms is Anya the leader of the few remaining settlers opposite Fraser Hines is Jamie, who also provides the voice of the Second Doctor.
The Phantom Piper by Martin Day
Jamie and the Doctor are staying on a planet that seems restful but Jamie is finding that he’s not the man he was. The Doctor blames the implants which all citizens and visitors receive which helps them manage their memories. A scientist offers to help but it means Jamie will have to revisit some of his earliest memories in the Highlands of Scotland. There are some that are too painful to recall and some that give him chills. If he doesn’t overcome his fear he might never recover his former self.
The Prints Of Denmark by Paul Morris
While Zoe is left twiddling her thumbs in a library, she meets the Meddling Monk himself and they take a tour through some of Earth’s history leading to some very disastrous results. The disingenuous Monk is definitely meddling and is gloriously amusing next to Zoe’s increasing exasperation. The various sidebars as the experts discuss history as we don’t know it are increasingly bizarre. My favourite is the critic complaining that Hamlet needs loo breaks (it does).
Rufus Hound is magnificently fruity as the Monk opposite Wendy Padbury as Zoe.
The Deepest Tragedian by Penelope Faith
Zoe intercepts a message that offers her a puzzle to solve and she can’t resist the invitation. For the girl with the eidetic memory and adherence to logic, she suddenly subjected to a prolonged bout of play-acting. How will she cope with the emotion, can she extend her range and become a tragedian herself?
This is an amazing drama that really pulls you in as Zoe tries to interpret what is happening. There are elements of the surreal as in ‘Oh, What A Lovely War’ in this and Richard Unwin is superb as the ever changing Tom Waugh.
There are some complex themes raised in these separate stories. In the first, there are the effects of war on the human and non-human psyche. In the second, we look at what makes a person and how important memories can be. The third’s story is a gleeful rendering of what can happen with deliberately sending that butterfly effect into history and the fourth is also in part about memory and also grief.
That’s quite a range for a little old SF drama to take on but it indicates the rich veins that the writers are able to mine to bring us unique drama. The simplicity of mainly two-handed drama helps a lot when you’re not needing to retain who everybody is in your ears. It allows the actors to really bounce off each other and considering many of these dramas were recorded with the director standing in for each part it is a fine example of the apparent seamless productions.
(pub: Big Finish, 2022. 4 CDs 303 minutes 4 stories. Price: £19.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78703-592-8. Download: £14.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78703-593-5