I will probably never get around to reviewing all of the “Eighth Doctor and Charley” adventures, but after Charlotte Pollard stopped travelling with the Eighth Doctor, she travelled with the Sixth for a time. How it is that the Eighth Doctor doesn’t remember travelling with her before remains to be seen, but chronicling those stories is a much less daunting task. Here’s what lies ahead…
105. The Condemned - p1
111. The Doomwood Curse - p1
114. Brotherhood of the Daleks - p1
L.A. The Red House - p2
vii. Return of the Krotons - p3
116. The Raincloud Man - p3
124. Patient Zero - p3
125. Paper Cuts - p4
126. Blue Forgotten Planet - p4
As I mentioned earlier today, the Sixth Doctor and Charley stories came to an end in September 2009. But this seventh Doctor Who “Bonus Release” came out in December of that year. This is where it fits in continuity. Because Tracy is ahead of me, I’ll go ahead and post this introduction and add my thoughts after I have had a chance to listen to it.
RETURN OF THE KROTONS
“The dead planet Onyakis is being plundered by the last survivors of the human race, and their leader, Commander Cobden, will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Already there are rumours of those who stand against him mysteriously disappearing. But when the Doctor and Charley find themselves on the side of those trying to expose Cobden, they discover something far more sinister.
“Deep in the mines of Onyakis, alien technology is reactivating. Power is flowing. Something is forming in the darkness…”
Madoc had one of those voices that I always found unmistakable.
Tracy of Moon-T said:
I've just finished listening to the next audio, "Return of the Krotons" with Philip Madoc playing Cobden. Madoc was one of the actors in "The Krotons," the original television episode with Patrick Troughton. In the interview after the audio, he talks about playing a villain in other Doctor Who episodes. Recalling his villainous role in "The Brain of Morbius," Madoc mentions the "gang of women." Er... So sorry, bub. Don't flatter yourself. The Sisterhood of Karn has ENDURED.
Because this is a “Bonus Release” it’s pacing is a bit different from a story in the main range. Most main range releases comprise four episodes of approximately ½ hour each, but “Return of the Krotons” is a single hour-long episode. As such, I began listening to it at lunch yesterday in hope of completing it in two ½ hour commutes, which I did, but I had a hard time following it. (That’s not a criticism of the story, but rather the conditions under which I listened.) I told Tracy last night and she explained all the plot points I had missed. (She’s a much closer listener than I am; she should be writing the synopses.) I’ll listen to it again sometime in the future and get more out of it, but I do want to mention one scene near the end. Charley is regaining consciousness (never mind why), and she mumbles, “C’rizz died… and you didn’t care.” The Sixth Doctor hears her and responds, “Didn’t I? Who’s C’rizz?”
116. THE RAINCLOUD MAN
“Having just defeated the Krotons, the Doctor is treating Charley to a hearty English breakfast, when an intriguing mystery suddenly presents itself. And to solve it, they must plunge back into the criminal underbelly of Manchester, where an old friend is up to her neck in alien trouble.
“But what seemed like a mere mystery ends up being a life or death struggle at the center of an interplanetary war in which the stakes are so high, the Doctor or Charley must gamble and lose their identity. And throughout, the lone figure of the Raincloud Man may hold the key to success or failure.”
COMMENTARY: As the story opens, there’s a bit of dialogue that establishes Charley and the Doctor have recently defeated the Krotons in an unrecorded bit of antecedent action. I don’t know if it was planned at the time or not, but in just over a year’s time, that adventure would be revealed in a Doctor Who “Bonus Release” (see above). In “The Raincloud Man,” the Doctor and Charley return to Manchester in the year 2008, where they soon discover someone passing authentic coins minted in 2012. This leads them believe that an unscrupulous person is using time traveler to win gambling bets.
Their investigation reunites them with DI Patricia Menzies, who has, since the last time they met, developed something of a reputation (among aliens, not the police) for dealing with the… “unusual.” There have been a series of deaths, perhaps murders, associated with a particular casino which Menzies has been investigating. This casino has a high stakes room in which gamblers can bet all sorts of unusual things: their memories, experiences, skills, personality traits, etc. Menzies’ chief suspect, a woman named Carmen, is soon revealed to be a suffering memory loss due to losses at the table.
Carmen is a time traveler, but she not only lost her memories but also her time machine. Charley and the Doctor become separated and work their own angles on the case. Charley becomes involved with Carmen and suggests wagering her own knowledge of the Doctor’s future against Carmen’s time machine and memories with the stated objective of, after winning the time machine, using it to go back in time to prevent Carmen from losing in the first place. When Carmen inquires whether or not there are rules against such behavior, Charlie assures her there are not. (Obviously, she wants the use of the time machine for purposes of her own.)
The “Raincloud Man” is Lish, an employee of the casino who has “bad luck” powers. It is his job to stand next to successful gamblers and break their winning streaks. The deaths Menzies has been investigating were accidental, caused by people standing too close to Lish. The Doctor becomes involved in a high stakes game with the house, which is supporting an intergalactic war the Doctor is trying to stop. The Doctor is having a run of good luck and is close to breaking the house. He overconfidently wagers the TARDIS and all his knowledge of time travel. His luck turns and he loses.
The rules of the house allow any gambler to donate his or her winnings to pay of someone else debt. Based on her foreknowledge of the Doctor’s future self, Charley reasons that the Doctor must not lose his memories and ship. She wagers on his behalf and wins. Carmen has the opportunity to reclaim her memories but chooses not to because she has no idea what kind of person she was and would prefer a fresh start. As the story is coming to a close, Menzies asks if she can come along with the Doctor and Charley. The Doctor refuses, however, explaining that his doubts about Charley must be resolved before he can take on another companion.
The Doctor has learned of Charlie’s attempt to win Carmen’s time machine and of her stated reason for wanting it. The Doctor flatly states, “I don’t believe you.” The mystery of Charley has come to a head ad the doctor demands that she tell him the truth.
WRITER’S NOTES by Eddie Robeson:
“‘The Raincloud Man’ is a sort of sequel to my earlier Sixth Doctor and Charley story “The Condemned,’ in as much as it’s set in Manchester and features the return of DI Patricia Menzies (who we were all keen to bring back after Anna Hope brought her to life so brilliantly).
“There’s no connection in terms of plot, but taken together I suppose these plays are yt attempt to pick up a thread from the Sixth Doctor’s era which I always felt had unfulfilled potential; the early scenes of ‘Attack of the Cybermen’ when Lytton and his gang are preparing for their heist. That sequence seems to have come out of an old Euston Films crime drama, it’s very 1980s and it’s a world which Doctor Who rarely went near. The story went off at a totally different tangent after that, which I found disappointing. So this is me trying to bring the Sixth Doctor back to that kind of setting, to see how he copes.”
124. Patient Zero:
Another interesting story, there are two main threads here:
i)The Doctor arrives on a space station where a multi-bodied being called Fratalin is protecting a cache of deadly viruses while waiting for the unimaginatively-named Virans to come and collect them for destruction. The Daleks arrive hoping to claim the viruses for themselves, but are oddly reticent to just blast their way in and kill everyone.
ii)Charley encounters a mysterious being called "Mila" who claims to have been with the Doctor for all of his travels, and who schemes to take Charley's place.
Overall: Not bad. I'm not a big fan of "someone usurps a character's identity" stories,but this handles it fairly well. It feels a bit like the middle of a story, which I suspect it is. Baker (The Doctor) and Briggs (The Daleks) are good in this.
The Three Companions: The first part of a story in which the Brigadier tells Polly about the time he and the Doctor went to a train station and met someone who looked like Polly. How does Lethbridge-Stewart know Polly, anyhow?
First of all, thanks for spelling me on this summary.
I first bought this one several years ago because one of The Eighth Doctor Adventures (“Lucie Miler”) was a sequel to it. One thing I probably didn’t realize the first time I listened to it (out of context of the other Sixth doctor and Charley stories) was the callback to “The Condemned.” Based on what you have heard, what do you think of Charley as a companion, and what do you think of the Sixth Doctor/Charley dynamic?
For the benefit of anyone reading this discussion without access to the liner notes, here is a little more about the “unimaginatively-named” Viyrans:
THE VIYRANS – A Very Short History:
“The Viyrans have been lurking around the audio adventures of Doctor Who for quite some time, but you probably didn’t even notice. The influence was first felt in ‘Urgent Calls’ (on Doctor Who CD 94, I.D.), in which the Sixth Doctor encountered a virus that made people make significant but random phone calls to each other. In fact, every time a virus has been mentioned since that point, the intention has been for it to be connected with the Viyrans.
“Their first bona fide ‘appearance’ was in ‘Mission of the Viyrans,’ a one-part adventure following the three-part story ‘The Mind’s Eye’ (Doctor Who CD 102). In that story, it was revealed that the Viyrans were on an intergalactic virus clean-up mission, following a terrible catastrophe. But what was the exact nature of that catastrophe? ‘Patient Zero’ may shed some light on that.
“‘Mission of the Viyrans’ is available to download for 99p from bigfinish.com.”
And her are Nicholas Briggs’ writer’s notes.
WRITER’S NOTES – Nicholas Briggs:
“‘Oh, you’ll go mad and die,’ script editor Alan Barnes said to me when I wanted to write two of the three scripts in what we decided we’d call ‘The Stalker Season’. I think he was referring to the problems of excessive workload, not my general state of mental health. And, of course, every day of my life I’m listening to and giving notes on sound design and music, reading other people’s scripts as well as formulating and discussing future plans for Doctor Who and Big Finish’s other ranges… But it can’t be all about this executive producer nonsense!
“Sometimes I have to get back to what I truly love—and I don’t just mean doing the trailers or a bit of sound design and music (even though I love those things too). I mean sometimes I have to write Doctor Who, because in many ways, that’s my first love. In fact, as if to prove that, I can confirm that I created, wrote about and drew (cringe!) the Viyrans when I was about 14 years old. The chance to have them battle the Daleks was just too tempting to miss. I don’t want to tempt fate, but so far… I haven’t gone mad or died. Phew!”
“It feels a bit like the middle of a story, which I suspect it is.”
Actually it’s not; it’s the first part of a three-story sequence (which I will have more to say about next time).
“The Three Companions: The first part of a story in which the Brigadier tells Polly about the time he and the Doctor went to a train station and met someone who looked like Polly.
I think this is the third part of that story.
“How does Lethbridge-Stewart know Polly, anyhow?”
“Polly Wright has tracked down an old friend of the Doctor's... Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, former Brigadier at UNIT. As they trade stories of their time travelling in the TARDIS, it soon becomes clear that their pasts are intertwined, and linked to a current crisis on the planet Earth. And there's a third companion, watching them from a distance. A certain Thomas Brewster... An epic story featuring the Doctor's former companions Polly, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and Thomas Brewster in a fight to save the Earth, The Three Companions was previously released in serialized form and is available to hear in a new compilation edit for the first time.”
I just realized that chapter of “The Three Companions” on “Patient Zero” was not an advertisement for a release of its own, but rather part of a serialization. I have at least one other chapter. I wonder if I have them all and don’t know it? (Probably not, because I listen to mainly Sixth and Eighth Doctor stories on CD.)
Back to “Patient Zero,” not only are there two main threads to the main story, but there are two parts to the cliffhanger: 1) Mila has usurped Charley’s identity and replaced aboard the TARDIS, and 2) the TARRDIS itself is about to be blown to pieces in a temporal explosion caused by the Daleks.
"I think this is the third part of that story."
Actually, it's the fifth part of the story.
(I'll continue this topic on the "Miscelaneous Big Finish Audios" thread.)