blogger_who (blogger_who) wrote,

Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles 4.08 - The Emperor of Eternity

Rewritten from material that I originally posted 6/11/13 on another forum.

Blurb: After colliding with a meteor in space, the TARDIS is forced to make an emergency landing on Earth. The place is China around 200 BC, during the reign of the first emperor, Qin.

When the Doctor is taken away to the imperial city, it’s up to Victoria and Jamie to save him. Their friend is now a prisoner of Qin, who intends to extract the secret of eternal life, so that he may rule the world forever...

Format: Limited-cast audio drama, a Companion Chronicle from the point-of-view of Victoria Waterfield. Published by Big Finish Productions and released March of 2010.

Setting: Earth: China, 211 BC. No context is given for when and why Victoria narrates this story.

Continuity: This story takes place between Web of Fear and Fury from the Deep. No indication is to given as to when this occurs with respect to other stories set within this gap. The Doctor remembers having met Kublai Khan in his first incarnation (see Marco Polo). Victoria refers to the death of her father at the hands of the Daleks (see Evil of the Daleks). When learning that they're near Tibet, Jamie wonders if he'll see any more hairy beasties (see The Abominable Snowmen).

Canonicity Quotient: The Emperor Qin as depicted here seems to bare no resemblance to the one depicted in the novel, The Eleventh Tiger. Victoria seems far more "20th century" then she should be in her speech and mannerisms. 0.95

Discussion: I listened to Emperor of Eternity over the last couple of days. I have to say that after the very high standard that most of the CC's live up to I was somewhat disappointed in this one. That being said, I was very pleasantly surprised when I listened to this that Deborah Watling seems to have stepped up her game a little bit. I commented before about how flat she was in The Great Space Elevator. While there were still many of the same problems here, it was clear that she was enjoying the material a little more and she seemed to be putting more energy into Victoria. In a few cases she really took quite a few years off her age, although she never quite got back to the Victoria of old. Still, I'm somewhat saddened that they never gave her more stories to do. After all, it wasn't until the Anachronauts that I felt that Jean Marsh really gave us her A game so Deborah likely just needed a few more tries to get things back to how they were. Fraser as always was great but as others have commented, another character probably would have been better. Jamie doesn't do much here except explain ad nauseum that he is not a barbarian. Another voice actor who was more central to the role may have sold the "china" part of the story better and given us more dialogue between Victoria and themselves.

Here its really the script that is the let down far more than Watling's performance. This story is one of the most average Who stories that I've ever heard. They arrive. Stuff happens. Then they leave. The TARDIS crew do nothing here other than cause a whole village to be wiped out. Yet there's no real analysis of that. The crew has no consequences nor do they feel any remorse over this unintentional tragedy. This is Victoria's first foray into history (unless further CC's or Early Adventures set one earlier) so I'd liked to have gotten more of her perspective on this. The framing sequence was notably lacking and I think in this one it could have helped to give some context to some of the events. We get a cliffhanger with the famous terracotta warrior statues that everyone knows about. It was also fairly easy to guess that when we have two characters who the Doctor flags are not what they seem that the one everyone assumes to be the assassin isn't the one and the one they think is not is. It was fairly easy to suss out who the other character was as well. So without a whole lot of intrigue and without a very complicated plot we're left with performance only and while Watling was getting better it was still not at the exceptional level. Victoria also says some lines that don't seem right for her character, making her seem far more modern than she really was. I'm wondering if this may have started life as a story featuring another TARDIS crew and was later adapted for the season 5 cast. I also feel like the idea of warriors in ancient China wanting to get their hands on the TARDIS has been done before... The other problem was that the names were so unusual that I had a really hard time remembering who was who which was only made worse by the fact that Watling doesn't do different voices for the different characters.

I will say though that those who say that Victoria shows to much bravery and competence in this forget that its set between Web of Fear and Fury from the Deep. In Fury, Victoria is suddenly competent and brave, almost as if it were an attempt to make up for all the other stories where she was just a useless screamer. While I'd really love to delve into what happened prior to this story that made her this way, I don't think that this is that odd for the era and it did address the one flaw with the Great Space Elevator that Victoria didn't get much to do in that story.

Final Rating: 5/10

Recommendation: Dull. I wish that I could give it some flair but this may be the most average Doctor Who story that I've ever heard. It's Who by numbers and I expect better from Nigel Robinson. I feel like Deborah Watling has tried a lot harder this time to recreate her performance as Victoria, which makes it sad that this story is so dull and therefore works against her efforts. I'd recommend skipping this one.
Tags: abominable snowmen, audio drama, companion chronicles, deborah watling, doctor who, eleventh tiger, emperor of eternity, evil of the daleks, fury from the deep, marco polo, nigel robinson, season 5, second doctor, victoria waterfield, web of fear

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