November 12th, 2013

Polly Fanfic

Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles 7.08 - House of Cards

Rewritten from material that I originally posted 6/7/13 on another forum.

Blurb: The TARDIS has landed in a futuristic space casino, where the Doctor, Ben, Polly and Jamie find fun, games… and monsters everywhere. There are vicious robot dogs, snake-headed gangsters from the Sidewinder Syndicate and a mysterious masked woman called Hope.

In this place, time travelers are to be tracked down and arrested. Yet, as events spiral out of control, time may be Polly's only ally…

Format: Limited-cast audio drama, a Companion Chronicle from the point-of-view of Polly Wright. Published by Big Finish Productions and released February of 2013.

Setting: A casino belonging to the Sidewinder Syndicate, time unknown. The details of when or why Polly is narrating this story are not given.

Continuity: This story takes place between The Macra Terror and The Faceless Ones and after the audio adventure The Selachian Gambit. Steve Lyons has created a trilogy of stories with Resistance, The Selachian Gambit, and House of Cards but there is no indication of when they take place with respect to other stories in this gap or if other stories may happen in between as The Forbidden Time seems to do. Polly says that the second Doctor grips his lapels in a way that reminders her of the first (see The War Machines, The Smugglers, or The Tenth Planet). Jamie refers to the Selachian attack on the Galacti-Bank (see The Selachian Gambit). Jamie mentions that he's fought metal beasties (see The Moonbase). Jamie almost mentions that the Doctor told him about his winnings from playing Backgammon with Kublai Khan (see Marco Polo). Polly says that she's learned her lesson about trying to change history (see Resistance).

Canonicity Quotient: It's another story where everyone is just slightly off. Stylistically this feels more like a JNT era idea of a space casino with loads of unexplained time travel. Ben as a compulsive gambler just doesn't feel right, but honestly other than the fact that everything seems off it fits in pretty well. 0.99

Discussion: I just listened to this one yesterday. I have to say that to me this one felt very much like Lyons' brief was "give us the Selachian Gambit again because it was popular". The difference unfortunately was that even though I tend not to like silly stories, the Selachian Gambit was at least genuinely funny. This story felt like it wanted to be funny but instead just dragged. It wasn't horrible but also wasn't very good nor did it make me laugh.

On the good side Fraser and Anneke were good as always. I felt as if Anneke's Doctor might be slipping a bit since I've now been able to hear all 4 of hers in a row. It didn't seem to have the polish that her earlier Doctor impressions had. Fortune was an intriguing villain. We're told that she's something of a psychic vampire but it would I wish we're had more background than that as she was the one standout part of this story.

Mostly this story just felt to me as if it were "casino story by numbers". There didn't appear to be any consideration made to the fact that this was set in the future, which just made it more surreal. We're still going to have Texans like Lucky roaming around casinos hundreds or thousands of year in the future? The Sidewinders are so impressionable that after spending a little time in Chicago they pattern themselves on the Chicago mobs but even hundreds of years in the future they're still playing the same part? Really? You don't think maybe they would have patterned themselves on something else by then? That and the "you dirty rat" may have been a little cute the first time they said it. After the 130th time it was very very annoying and made it seem as if they patterned themselves off a few sentences rather than a whole culture.

Then there are the time bangles. In a pre-Time War era it felt extremely wrong that the Doctor didn't even bat his eyelids at them. They'd certainly be something that he'd have tried to do something about. I for one dislike when time travel is shown to be trivial and here we have a culture where time travel is so common that a casino feels the need to put in an alarm to keep it from being used there. I'm not sure how a civilization could work through such frequent use of time travel. It would make everything meaningless but these ramifications aren't considered just so that we can have a device to set the action in motion.

I must say that even though other Americans have complained about American accents this part didn't bother me. What does bother me is allusion to "Happy Family Cards" with no explanation. I would think that BF would realize that it has an international audience and would try to keep references to things that non-British would have no clue of to a minimum. The other one was that the term "scrum" seemed to be used an awful lot in this story. I think that I've worked out what it's supposed to have meant but sounds somewhat dirty and vulgar to American ears.

I gave this one a 6/10 because its about average but gave it another point out of deference to Lyons, Hines, and Willis who are usually so top notch. I am hopeful that their next outing takes a more serious turn. Also i wouldn't mind if someone other than Lyons gets another crack at season 4. We'll have to see.

Final Rating: 6/10

Recommendation: It feels like a joke that gets told to you over and over again. House of Cards starts funny but soon becomes flat. The fact that the twists are fairly easy to guess and in the end we don't have any kind of explanation for the main villain means that this one doesn't reach the height of the other audios set in season 4. Feel free to give this one a skip.
Victoria OMG

Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles 3.02 - The Great Space Elevator

Rewritten from material that I originally posted 6/10/13 on another forum.

Blurb: The Great Space Elevator is a marvel of human engineering; a transit tube stretching from the equator up to a space station held in geosynchronous orbit.

When the TARDIS lands in Sumatra in the future, the Second Doctor, Jamie and Victoria are captured by guards just as the station loses power. Together with Security Officer Tara Kerley, the three travellers take a one-way trip on the elevator to fix the problem, and find themselves confronted by a powerful alien force that threatens to wreak chaos on Earth…

Format: Limited-cast audio drama, a Companion Chronicle from the point-of-view of Victoria Waterfield. Published by Big Finish Productions and released August of 2008.

Setting: Earth: Sumatra, Indonesia, time unknown (this is clearly pre-Moonbase, so I'd suggest a date of somewhere between 2030 and 2050, so I've been thinking 2045). Victoria narrates this story from many years after she left the TARDIS crew.

Continuity: This story takes place between The Ice Warriors and The Enemy of the World. No indication is to given as to when this occurs with respect to other stories set within this gap. Vicotoria mentions that they've previously been on Telos (see Tomb of the Cybermen). Jamie mentions the man on the moon (see The Moonbase). Victoria thinks that sometimes the Doctor reminds her of her father, Edward Waterfield (see Evil of the Daleks). This story has lots of nods to staples of the Troughton era. There's a base under siege from an alien threat, a weather control station, and a foam machine.

Canonicity Quotient: Although I've placed the story between the Ice Warriors and The Enemy of the World, it's clear from the dialog that Morris' intention was to place it between Tomb of the Cybermen and The Abominable Snowmen. Unfortunately there's no gap between those stories. Victoria should have told Tara that they'd just come from England since the earliest gap for this TARDIS team is between The Ice Warriors and The Enemy of the World. Also, Victoria being happily married with grandchildren flies in the face of the entirety of the novel Downtime, which has Victoria possessed as the Great Intelligence and planning a 3rd Yeti invasion. 0.80

Discussion: Wonderful! It was like finding a lost season 5 story. I shouldn't be surprised. Jonathan Morris was so good at evoking the best of season 17 in Festival of Death (no mean feat since there isn't much good in season 17!) that I should have known that he could effortlessly recreate season 5 and here he did. We have weather control, a remote outpost terrorized by an alien menace, a commander that refuses to accept that something bad is happening, we have real science, and I admit it, I laughed when the Troughton foam machine started up. This is a story that I can visualize in pure black and white goodness. Would this have gotten old if Big Finish did it again and again? Sure, but for the first season 5 CC this was a welcome story, reminding us of all the best in the season but in a much more succinct package (imagine this as a 6 parter and you'll know why season 5 dragged so). Since this is her story, we even have Victoria trying to be brave and showing the kind of pluck and courage that she wouldn't show in the series until Fury from the Deep.

I like the idea of the space elevator as a setting. Its one of those crazy sci-fi ideas that would never work in the real world - even if its ever found to be technically possible who wants a giant structure that if it were ever compromised would reign death and destruction across the entire circumference of the Earth? I also really liked the science lesson about electricity. It was very in keeping with the 60's style even if by season 5 Who was not trying to be particularly educational.

As others have said, and I hate to say it, the production is most let down by Deborah Watling herself. While many other productions have been saved by the voice actors or have had an already good story that has been elevated to excellent by the performances, Watling feels like she isn't really into her character. There are things that aren't her fault such as her voice has changed considerably since 1967 in a way that it hasn't for some of her colleagues like Anneke Wills and Fraser Hines. But the lack of energy and conviction, the lack of trying to evoke the different characters gives the story less of an impact then it would have otherwise. I really liked Helen Goldwyn as Tara but since her character is sidelined for most of episode 2 Watling has to carry the entire thing herself and maybe that was an undue burden put on her by the production team as well. There are some great lines for Victoria, especially when she's entering space and here Watling does indeed put some of the sense of wonder into her voice as Victoria watches as she moves higher and higher into space.

There are my little nits, mostly about the continuity wars. Victoria is apparently a grandmother, which seems at odds with the events of Downtime, something I find extremely odd since IIRC Downtime was a Nick Briggs production. I suppose if Victoria got married almost immediately after that story and had a kid right away it is possible if she's narrating from a date farther in the future than the present but it kind of makes your head hurt thinking about it. I hope this is reconciled later.

Final Rating: 8/10

Recommendation: Wonderfully sublime, The Great Space Elevator will give you everything that was good in Season 5 in a mere fraction of the time. Jonathan Morris has become adept at telling suspenseful sci-fi stories and this one is no different. Exciting and nostalgic at the same time, The Great Space Elevator should hit you in your happy place and leave you wanting more. I definitely recommend it.