blogger_who (blogger_who) wrote,

Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles 2.2 - Helicon Prime

Rewritten from material that I originally posted 8/10/13 on another forum.

Blurb: It's been a long time since Jamie McCrimmon remembered anything about his travels with the Doctor, but his visit to Helicon Prime just won't stay hidden… but why remember their murder investigation now?

Format: Limited-cast audio drama, a Companion Chronicle from the point-of-view of Jamie McCrimmon. Published by Big Finish Productions and released November of 2007.

Setting: Helicon Prime, a space station/luxury resort in the "Golden Section" of the universe, no earlier than 4850 AD. (Admittedly this date is a guess based on how far human civilization spans and the fact that Mindy appears to have access to time travel technology. Anything earlier than this wouldn't make sense but it could potentially happen at any point after this as well.) Jamie narrates the story from Scotland post 1786 (this is the date for the narration of The Glorious Revolution and this sequence seems to happen at some point after that).

Continuity: This story takes place between The War Games and Spearhead from Space and sometime before the events depicted in The Two Doctors. The writing is actually left vague enough that no assertion is made to the existence of Season 6B or not, so if you have another theory for the Doctor and Jamie traveling alone in The Two Doctors then that could work as well. However, I have always subscribed to the theory of Season 6B so I will maintain that placement for this story. This story definitely happens prior to the 2nd Doctor sequences in The Two Doctors as Jamie mentions that Victoria is off studying graphology and the story opens with the Doctor renovating the console and thus explaining its different appearance in The Two Doctors. Jamie mentions the Daleks (see Evil of the Daleks and Fear of the Daleks) and the Yeti (see The Abominable Snowmen and Web of Fear).

Canonicity Quotient: The Doctor is very out of character, hitting on Mindy every chance he gets and trying to one-up Jamie. It's funny but it isn't the sort of thing that Troughton's Doctor did. The framing sequence doesn't make a lot of sense, giving us a amnesiac Jamie who still has mementos from his travels with the Doctor. The Time Lords would have returned him to Scotland wearing exactly what he was wearing in his first adventure. The story seems to contradict itself with regards to season 6B and seems to think that humans were in space in the 18th century. 0.50

Discussion: Ironically, my last Troughton CC was one of the first. I wanted to listen to it last because I was told that it took place during the apocryphal Season 6B. While it is true that the author clearly wants to set this just prior to the Two Doctors from the Doctor and Jamie's point of view he completely sidesteps the issue of whether or not its Season 6B or somewhere in season 5. They mention Victoria going off to study Graphology as they did in the Two Doctors and there is talk of the Doctor having taken apart the TARDIS console and just starting to put it together again, explaining the console's look in The Two Doctors. Yet, there are no references beyond this to when this takes place. Everything mentioned by Jamie is something from the televised adventures and there appears to be no hint that the Doctor is working here as an agent of the Time Lords. Other than the fact that the Doctor appears bizarrely out of character there's nothing here to event hint at a season 6B. As for what i thought of the story, read on.

As always, Fraser Hines gives a great performance as both himself and the Doctor. He also does a fairly good job doing the voices of the various other denizens of Helicon Prime. This is somewhat tempered by the fact that this is early days on the CC and the pacing of the delivery seems odd. Fraser seems to be out of breath a lot of the time and he has to add in a lot of "he said" or words similar to that even though his doing a particular voice should be enough for us to know who was speaking. He also has to switch quickly between characters which leads to odd pacing on dialog. This disrupts some of the attempts at comic timing in the script, which is sad. Later CC's definitely show us that a little more work on pacing can lead to very comic results.

As many have said, the story just plods along. It isn't very interesting and its pretty obvious once we get to the Ambassador's room that Mindy is knee-deep in something and it isn't hard to guess what once you find out about the colony and figure that it has something to do with her name-dropping about her father earlier in the story. I have a hard time believing that no one but the Doctor notices that Helicon Prime is leaving the "golden sector" and if someone else notices why aren't they correcting whatever course action has left the thing off course? Have there been more deaths that we haven't heard about? And if some aliens can resist the effects of the golden section why aren't there security officers of some type whether organic or robotic to deal with outbreaks by such creatures? The plot is rife with questions.

Then we have the framing device. I already said during my review of the Glorious Revolution that I am not a fan of having Jamie without his memories. It seems to me that they would have been restored during season 6B. Yet even given that he's amnesiac and the jolt from Mindy's landing gives him his memories back temporarily we are left with loads of questions. How did Mindy track Jamie in the first place? How did Mindy travel in time? Why does Jamie still have the pendant on him decades later and when he has no memory of what it is? How did he get his hands on it in the first place? I don't think that the Time Lords went into the TARDIS and forwarded him all his stuff after returning him? What's going to become of Mindy's ship in 18th century Scotland? I guess there's the potential for a story with a bunch of Scotsmen wondering through space in a spaceship.

At the end, this story is amazingly average. Its got a lot of flaws but isn't a horrible story to listen to. It's boring but I've heard worse. The Doctor is out of character, constantly trying to gain Mindy's affections. I think he suspects her motives in all this but just the way that he goes about it doesn't seem like Troughton at all, but that's why this could be evidence of the much older Season 6B Troughton Doctor who may be a bit different. In any case, I give this one a 5/10 for being completely average. I wouldn't throw it in the trash but I'm not eager to listen to it again.

Final Rating: 5/10

Recommendation: Boring and plodding, Helicon Prime won't remind you at all of the 2nd Doctor's era. Why that isn't the worst thing in and of itself it also doesn't tell a very interesting story and then winds up in an ending that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Hines' Troughton impersonation isn't as polished here as it will get in his next outing so we're left with not much to recommend this one. It isn't the worst story in the world its just not good either. I'd definitely recommend skipping it.
Tags: abominable snowmen, audio drama, companion chronicles, doctor who, evil of the daleks, fear of the daleks, fraser hines, glorious revolution, helicon prime, jake elliott, jamie mccrimmon, season 6b, second doctor, spearhead from space, war games, web of fear

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