For a while now, I’ve been posting reactions to big “meaty” arcs such as The Eighth Doctor Adventures, Dark Eyes, Doom Coalition and The Collected War Doctor. Some of the stories I plan to listen to in the near future, though, are either one-off adventures or three story arcs. I thought it would be easier on the indexer (Hi, Bob!) if I started one “catch-all” thread and maintain the index in the initial post myself. I invite others to contribute to this discussion as well, and it doesn’t have to be strictly Doctor Who, either; anything from Big Finish will qualify. I’m going to start in a couple of days) with…
The Company of Friends - (Eighth Doctor)
Benny's Story - p1
Fitz's Story - p1
Izzy's Story - p2
Mary's Story - p2
The Transposition Trilogy
The Defectors - (Seventh Doctor and Jo Grant) - p2
Last of the Cyberman - (Sixth Doctor, Jamie and Zoe) - p2
The Secret History - (Fifth Doctor, Stephen and Vicki) - p2
The Masters Trilogy
And You Will Obey Me - (Fifth Doctor and old Master) - p3
Vampire of the Mind - (Sixth Doctor and new Master) - p3
The Two Masters - (Seventh Doctor and both Masters) - p4
Doctor Who "Bonus Releases"
Her Final Flight - (Sixth Doctor and Peri) - p4
Cryptobiosis - (Sixth Doctor and Peri) - p4
Return of the Daleks - (Seventh Doctor) - p5
Return to the Web Planet - (Fifth Doctor and Nyssa) - p5
Trial of the Valeyard - (Sixth Doctor) - p3
Doctor Who - Novel Adaptations
Love & War
Sixth Doctor Reunited with Peri
The Widow's Assassin - p4
Masters of Earth
The Rani Elite
Eighth Doctor and Mary Shelley
The Silver Turk - p5
The Witch from the Well - p7
Army of Death - p7
The Third Doctor Adventures
Prisoners of the Lake - p5
The Havoc of the Empires - p5
The Tenth Doctor Adventures (Vol. 2)
Infamy of the Zaross - p6
The Sword of the Chevalier - p6
Cold Vengeance - p6
4.12. Solitaire - (Charlotte Pollard vs. The Celestial Toymaker)
51. The Wormery – (Sixth Doctor) - p7
57. Arrangements for War – (Sixth Doctor & Evelyn) - p8
60. Medicinal Purposes – (Sixth Doctor & Evelyn) - p8
65. The Juggernauts – (Sixth Doctor & Mel) - p8
68. Catch 1872 – (Sixth Doctor & Mel) - p8
73. Thicker Than Water – (Sixth Doctor, Mel & Evelyn) - p9
75. Scaredy Cat – (Eighth Doctor, Charley & C'rizz) - p9
77. Other Lives – (Eighth Doctor, Charley & C’rizz) - p9
78. Pier Pressure – (Sixth Doctor & Evelyn) - p9
80. Time Works – (Eighth Doctor, Charley & C’rizz) - p9
83. Something Inside – (Eighth Doctor, Charley & C’Rizz) - p9
84. The Nowhere Place – (Sixth Doctor & Evelyn) - p9
86. The Reaping – (Sixth Doctor & Peri) - p7
90. Year of the Pig – (Sixth Doctor & Peri) - p7
88. Memory Lane – (Eighth Doctor, Charley & C’rizz) - p10
94. I.D. – (Sixth Doctor) - p10
97. The Wishing Beast – (Sixth Doctor & Mel) - p10
100. 100 – (Sixth Doctor & Evelyn) - p11
101. Absolution – (Eighth Doctor, Charley & C’rizz) - p10
103. The Girl Who Never Was – (Eighth Doctor & Charley) - p11
107. The Haunting of Thomas Brewster – (Fifth Doctor & Nyssa)
108. Assassin in the Limelight – (Sixth Doctor & Evelyn) - p11
140. A Death in the Family – (Seventh Doctor & Evelyn)
143. The Crimes of Thomas Brewster – (Sixth Doctor & Evelyn)
144. The Feast of Axos – (Sixth Doctor & Evelyn)
145. Industrial Evolution – (Sixth Doctor & Evelyn)
149. Robophobia – (Seventh Doctor & Liv Chenka) - p2
169. The Wrong Doctors – (Sixth Doctor & Mel) - p3
“What if there were a game you didn’t know you were playing? Where you didn’t know the aim and you hadn’t seen the rules?
“Charlotte Pollard arrives in a toyshop, but she doesn’t know where she is – or even who she is. The mysterious owner wants to play games. He’s the Celestial Toymaker, and he has already defeated the Doctor, whose essence is hidden inside a ventriloquist’s doll.
“The Doctor is gone. The TARDIS is lost. But the game is only just beginning...”
COMMENTARY: “Solitaire” is the twelfth release of the fourth season of the “Companion Chronicles” series. It is unique among that range because it is actually a two-person play, Charley pitting her wits against the celestial Toymaker; the other releases in that range are stories (including narration) performed by a single actor. “Solitaire” is set between “”Embrace the Darkness” and “The Time of the Daleks,” the eighth and ninth of Charley’s adventures with the Eighth Doctor, but it was released some nine months after the end of her time with the Sixth Doctor.
It was fun to play along with Charley. I solved one of the puzzles before Charley did. Eventually I stopped trying and just enjoyed the story. I don’t have to say much about this one, I don’t think. The notes below say pretty much all there is to say.
WRITER’S NOTES by John Dorney:
“I’ve always loved games. Board games, word games, card games. Doesn’t matter. And for me, writing is like a game. Like a puzzle. You have a ton of ideas—thoughts, concepts, moments, images. And the game is about finding out how to put the pieces together in the right way.
“‘Solitaire’ was a particularly tricky one. The brief was intimidating: Charlie versus the Celestial Toymaker. No other characters. All dialogue, no narration. And maybe the Doctor as a ventriloquist’s puppet. How on Earth to make that work?
“And then the fragments appear. A two word phrase I’ve always wanted the Toymaker to say. A genre that Doctor Who has never really tackled. The title. And you search for the way to join those pieces together. You ask yourself questions and write yourself into corners, and slowly something emerges that resembles a story.
“Hopefully the end result is as much of a game for the listener as it is for Charley. Feel free to play along. Everyone loves games.
PRODUCER’S NOTES by David Richardson:
“The idea for ‘Solitaire’ came to me in the shower. I knew I wanted to do a Companion Chronicle for Charley Pollard, and I knew that I wanted John Dorney to write it, because by that stage I’d read his ‘Echoes of Grey’ script and it was wonderful. So there I was, reaching for the shampoo, and I was thinking about how much I loved “Scherzo” (the two-handed play between the Doctor and Charley), and how much I wanted to get David Bailie back as the Celestial Toymaker. These random thoughts coalesced into one—within the boundaries of a Companion Chronicle, we could do a two-handed play with Charley and the Toymaker. And—to explain the absence of Paul McGann as the Doctor—we could have our hero transformed into a ventriloquist’s doll, leaving Charley to perform the lines!
“I immediately dried off and e-mailed John, who loved the idea. And he set to work on a script that I think is truly brilliant. An exciting, character-based piece that explores the very heart of the toymaker and his world, and let us into the mind of the much-loved Charley. It remains a personal favorite in the ever-expanding Companion Chronicles range.”
THE HAUNTING OF THOMAS BREWSTER:
“Thomas Brewster is haunted by the ghost of his drowned mother. But she is not the only apparition to disturb his dreams. Every few years, he is visited by a mysterious blue box...
“Helped by his new assistant, the young Scots scientist Robert McIntosh, the Doctor struggles to unravel the twisted knot of temporal implausibilities which bind the TARDIS to Thomas Brewster. Meanwhile, lost in the stews of Victorian London, Nyssa must face a host of spectral creatures gathering in the fog.”
COMMENTARTY: In many ways, Big Finish is the home for Doctors who didn’t get a fair shake on TV. To wit…
Colin Baker was fired.
The show was cancelled during Sylvester McCoy’s tenure.
And Paul McGann didn’t really even get a shot.
But on audio, those Doctors can go on to have new adventures, retroactively inserted into continuity, with their established companions from television, or they can have new adventures with companions never seen on TV. There’s plenty of wiggle room for the Sixth Doctor between the trial and travels with his last companion, Melanie Bush; for the Seventh Doctor, after the end of the series; and the Eighth Doctor is wide open. But what about the Fifth Doctor? His companions are pretty much set, with seven overlapping combinations of five people.
Adric, Nyssa and Tegan
Nyssa and Tegan minus Adric
Nyssa and Tegan plus Turlough
Tegan and Turlough minus Nyssa
Turlough minus Tegan
Turlough plus Peri
Peri minus Turlough
“Untold tales” can be (and, of course, have been) written using those groupings, but it’s difficult to allow the Fifth Doctor to travel with someone new. That’s why Thomas Brewster intrigues me. This is ostensibly a Fifth Doctor and Nyssa story, but they become separated and, although only a couple of hours pass for Nyssa, the Doctor finds himself stranded in Victorian London for a year, where he has grown a beard for the scientists of the day to take him seriously because he didn’t look old enough.
Part one focuses almost entirely on Thomas Brewster, with just a few cameo appearances by the Doctor and Nyssa as they pop in at certain times in Brewster’s life. Brewster is being manipulated by aliens from an alternate 2008. They are manipulating the past in such a way as to make the quantum reality they are from more of a probability than a mere possibility. At least that’s the Doctor’s theory. Brewster is convinced that he is being visited by the ghost of his mother, who drowned when he was five years old.
She leads him to steal certain equipment from the Doctor and instructs him how to build a time machine of his own. At one point, he even manages, with the “ghost’s” assistance, to steal the TARDIS, which he pilots to the year 2008. Back in Victorian England, the Doctor discovers another TARDIS in an old, abandoned curiosity shop. It is actually his own TARDIS, which had been in the shop for more than 30 years.
He pilots the TARDIS to 2008 and materializes within his own TARDIS. It is Nyssa who points out to the Doctor how dangerous that is, but he brushes her concerns aside saying, “Really? I thought it was rather clever.” He then programs the other TARDIS to return in time to where it will be found and closing the time corridor behind it.
What the Doctor must do is sever the connection between the Victorian aliens and the 21st century aliens, creating a paradox which would cause the whole scheme to collapse. Unfortunately, the “ghost” of Thomas’s mother convinces him that the doctor is actually causing all the problems. There are a lot of twists and turns, but perhaps the biggest (for me, anyway) came at the end, when Thomas Brewster stole the Doctor’s TARDIS… again!
Here is another example of that timey-wimey audio continuity. I thought “The Haunting of Thomas Brewster” would give me sufficient background to follow “The Crimes of Thomas Brewster.” Although I already knew that the Doctor would meet Thomas Brewster again (#113. “The Time Reef”), I now realize that there’s another adventure (#110. “The Boy That Time Forgot”), without Thomas Brewster, that deals with the Doctor getting his TARDIS back.
WRITER’S NOTES by Jonathan Morris:
“There’s something about Victorian London which is just so… Doctor Who. It’s a time of overgrown churchyards and creaking floorboards, of rat-infested sewers and oak-paneled corridors. A time of looking glasses and grandfather clocks and gas lamps. A time of Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle. It’s a time for ghost stories.
“And, like all ghost stories, ‘the haunting of Thomas Brewster is best enjoyed at night. To get the full effect, you should be listening, alone, in a dark, candle-lit room. This isn’t an adventure for the tube journey to work or to have on in the background while you’re doing the washing up. Unless, of course, you’re the sort of person who does the washing up alone, in a dark, candle-lit room.
“With this play, I have done everything I can to frighten you, and the actors, the director and the sound designers have done everything they can, too.
“So, please… have nightmares.”
DIRECTOR’S NOTES by Barnaby Edwards:
“This is the second script by Johnny Morris which it has been my great pleasure to direct—and it’s an absolute cracker! I love the Dickensian setting with its murky London streets shrouded with fog and peopled with characters straight out of Great Expectations and Hard Times.
“But the real skill here is in Johnny’s ability to take these literary elements and stock figures, and to mae them serve his own vision. The London of this story is not Oliver Twist’s but Thomas Brewster’s: we see it through his eyes and we hear about it from his lips.
“This is a good old-fashioned Victorian ghost story, so pull up a footstool, rest your head against an antimacassar and toast a crumpet before the glowing embers in the grate. Sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin…”
Ah, yes. The Doctor dropped her off at Heathrow Airport in “Time-Flight,” didn’t he? (I still remember the look on the Doctor’s face when he got her back in the very next story.) That would make the established list of companion combinations…
Adric, Nyssa and Tegan
Nyssa and Tegan
Nyssa and Tegan (again)
Nyssa, Tegan and Turlough
Tegan and Turlough
Turlough and Peri
It strikes me that the four parts “The Haunting of Thomas Brewster” each employ a different Doctor Who trope:
Part one is a ghost story;
Part two is a detective story;
Part three is a “base under siege” story;
Part four is “timey-wimey” science fiction.
I’m really looking forward to where this story is going.