blogger_who (blogger_who) wrote,

Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles 1.2 - Fear of the Daleks

Rewritten from material that I originally posted 6/12/13 on another forum.

Blurb: Why has Zoe Heriot been having nightmares about the Daleks? Who is the Doctor, a mysterious man from her past? When an evil scientist hijacks her mind to control a galaxy-conquering weapon, Zoe must stop him. First, she and the Doctor will face an enemy they had thought destroyed forever.

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

Setting: The asteroid city-state of Lavonia, time unknown (likely the 23rd or 24th centuries, time for colonies to have gained some age but before the Earth Empire pulls them all under a single rule). Zoe narrates this story from 40 years after the Doctor returned her to the Wheel.

Continuity: This story takes place between The Wheel in Space and The Dominators. Zoe knows of the Daleks from the adventure that the Doctor shared with her when she first joined the TARDIS crew (see Evil of the Daleks and The Wheel in Space). Zoe has no conscious memories of her time with the Doctor, since the Time Lords erased her memory. Here she remembers this adventure only as a series of dreams that she narrates in her diary (see The War Games). Since Zoe mentions Daleks when first arriving on Dulkis, it must be intended that this story is the one immediately preceding that one.

Canonicity Quotient: Plotwise they are able to explain the incredibly implausible placement of a story between The Wheel in Space and the Dominators. Yet, Zoe is very out of character for her post Wheel self. That and the fact that her memory is unreliable at this point means that its very possible that this story either did not happen or not exactly as she's telling it. 0.98

Discussion: Wow, I don't think that I've ever seen a BF production as maligned as this one by Fandom. So I went into it with a little trepidation. Maybe it was the fact that I'd already heard so much bad about it or maybe it was because I'd just listened to the Emperor of Eternity so the bar was set low but I don't consider this one to be as awful as everyone else. Indeed I think it's maybe only a little worse than Frostfire, its sister production from earlier in the same Companion Chronicles season and probably about on par with The Emperor of Eternity. Interestingly I think this one suffers for different reasons than Frostfire.

Firstly, I like the framing device used in this story. It intrigues rather than intrudes as in Frostfire. Zoe's talk with her counselor forms bookends and explains why she's telling the story and also let's us as the viewers know a little bit about what has been happening to her since we last saw her. Wendy's voice is wonderful. It truly seems like no time has passed between the 60's and now....

Unfortunately despite her great voice, it seemed that on this one no one was giving her any direction. On at least two occasions Wendy switched between two characters without even pausing to take a breath so it sounded like one giant run-on sentence. Wendy didn't try to do voices for any characters besides the regulars and even then her Jamie and Doctor were pretty bland. The strangest part, though, is that she seems to have difficulty recreating Zoe despite her voice. She reads her own lines as flat as possible and doesn't try to inject any of the energy that she had as Zoe into them.

Then there's the dialogue. Never have so many characters said so many unlikely things. The worst disaster happens when a Dalek says "my conciousness is impaired! I cannot think!" which while possibly sounding witty means absolutely nothing since the creature can talk and therefore can think. But we have all other kinds of implausible lines being uttered. Furthering on this, the story while placing itself firmly right after The Wheel in Space does not make any use of that time period at all. Zoe acts like her later season 6 self, and the almost mechanical girl from Wheel in Space is nowhere to be seen. I would have liked her to question whether the morality of some initial deaths to create a more ordered society is worthwhile or to have her make the tough decision and kill the Daleks (thus explaining why this is the memory getting through and why it's haunting her). This story doesn't want to have any complexity or depth though so a third option is presented which takes away the need for the Doctor and Zoe to kill, which makes one wonder why it wasn't offered in the first place.

This may be one of the lamest plans every in the history of planning. So, you know that the Daleks are ruthless. You have no leverage over them and yet you think they're going to share power with you because you help them with one part of their plan?! While in some ways this may seem like Mavic Chen's plan once you scratch the surface and look deeper you see that at least Chen already had a power base and a position of authority. It made sense that he thought that he might be able to hold the Daleks in check with fear of him using that power and leverage against them. Antrekar doesn't have any of that. Then he changes his mind as soon as he has a conversation with the Doctor. What did you never notice how the Daleks acted when you communicated with them before?!

Also and lest I forget...the music. I rarely notice the music in the audios. I'm usually driving to work and paying attention to other things so the dialog is mostly what I'm listening for. The fact that I don't remember it tells me that it's doing its job, setting tone but not intruding on the story. The fact that I remember this music strongly tells something else. I have to say that I laughed out loud when I heard the overblown drumbeats and bombastic sound of the musical "interludes" that seem to be interspersed at random throughout this production. They seem to have a spacing so maybe they're to tell you that this is a good point to pause the CD? They don't seem to fit with the story though and just seem loud and overbearing. I have no idea who thought that was a good idea.

Final Rating: 4.5/10

Recommendation: Ouch. It's a story that uses the Daleks more to draw people to the new Companion Chronicles line rather than any story justification. There's a lot of bad dialog and overbearing music. Wendy is wonderful as always but even she can't make a diamond out of all the coal that's been handed to her. I'd suggest skipping it.
Tags: audio drama, companion chronicles, doctor who, dominators, emperor of eternity, evil of the daleks, fear of the daleks, frostfire, patrick chapman, season 5b, second doctor, war games, wendy padbury, wheel in space, zoe heriot

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.