blogger_who (blogger_who) wrote,

Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles 6.11 - The Jigsaw War

Rewritten from material that I originally posted 6/30/13 on another forum.

Blurb: A cell. Four walls, one door. Jamie McCrimmon can escape, but it means unraveling a puzzle of extraordinary complexity.

And there are more than just two players in this game. The Doctor is there. So is his opponent Side.

As a hero turns killer, and a rebellion becomes anarchy, the lines between good and evil are blurred. And so does the distinction between cause and effect…

Format: Full-cast audio drama. Published by Big Finish Productions and released May 2012.

Setting: The Unheld System, time unknown. Humans have been in this system for 89 years but the start date is never indicated.

Continuity: This story takes place between The Krotons and Seeds of Death. Although the exact placement is not certain, this is a companion Chronicle where Jamie is having to use his own wit an ingenuity to solve problems more complex then he had to face on TV. Since the Glorious Revolution's timing is certain, I decided to place this in the next gap previous to show Jamie's maturation through the second half of season 6. Side mentions that Jamie was fighting in the Battle of Culloden when the Doctor first met him (see The Highlanders).

Canonicity Quotient: This is another rare case of a story that has no issues with established continuity, so it achieves a score of unity. 1.00

Discussion: I just finished listening to the Jigsaw War and I have to say that it is an excellent story. For once I don't have a very long statement to make about the story. It was very minimalist and took advantage of the fact that Companion Chronicles tend to be very short stories with only two actors. Instead of masquerading as a full-length, full-cast audio this story said "let's make it just about the companion." The Time Museum would later do the same thing and I'm very impressed with both works. This story is all about Jamie's psychology. Why does he do what he does? Could he be dissuaded from believing in the Doctor? At the end of the day we learn about Jamie and how he's grown up with the Doctor. Other commentators have stated that the story isn't very interesting if you take the gimmick part out of it. I'd agree that if we'd just had a standard "The Doctor comes in and helps out the oppressed natives" tale that it probably would be pretty boring but that's the point. This story gives us the little snippet that is interesting and that is really what the companion chronicles are for - teaching us about the companions.

Beyond the writing I could gush over the performances of course. As always Fraser does a remarkable Troughton and the excuse for bringing him into a 2-hander is very well done. Dominic Mafham also does a good job as both Moran and Side. He has to play a lot of different emotions for the different states of Moran from arrogant soldier, to scared soldier, to haggard prisoner. Then he also has to play Side and play them all differently. He pulls this off well and even with the jumping around in the story and keeps the performances where they should be.

Sure I have some nits, I always do. Even though the story was just about Jamie in the cell I would have liked a little more resolution in the story at the end. To me this is the one thing that dropped it from 10/10 to 9/10. My other little nit is that I wanted this to be far more complex. When I read David Richardson's writeup in the CD case I had assumed that this was going to be a very complex story that we'd have to listen to multiple times. Yet, it was always very obvious where each of the timezones fit into the sequence and if we weren't following it then Jamie was always there to tell us where it fit in by actually numbering the sequences each time he time jumped. I have a hard time docking the story points though for an assumption that I had but I just wish that the puzzle had been more difficult and some of the order was misleading so that potentially Jamie or we might have put them together in the wrong order. This just took any kind of challenge implied and completely threw it out the window. It was nice though to see that the sequence wasn't the real test so at least the story addressed why it was all way to simple.

Final Rating: 9/10

Recommendation: A companion chronicle that's really just a play between the companion and another character. Two-handers sometimes work and work well and a claustrophobic little tale like this one is just perfect for that. This is a story that really gets us into Jamie's head and shows us that he isn't the idiot that the series sometimes takes him for and gives us an interesting villain in Side. With some fantastic performances this story really stands out against the rest of the pack. This one is highly recommended.
Tags: audio drama, companion chronicles, doctor who, eddie robson, fraser hines, highlanders, jamie mccrimmon, jigsaw war, krotons, season 6, second doctor, seeds of death

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