Since October 2013 I have been reviewing Big Finish audios for www.planetmondas.com - and now all my reviews are collected here, please take your time to have a read.
Wednesday, 30 September 2015
204 - Criss-Cross
Some stories have a particular purpose – Deep Breath needs to introduce a New Doctor and set up a story arc, The Time Warrior is there to introduce us to Sarah Jane Smith.
Most beginnings and endings are usually there to introduce or to say goodbye to a much loved character, the fact that there needs to be a story is almost secondary to the need to get the story from point A to point B. But sometimes a story serves a purpose as well as being a fantastic story – look at The Dalek Invasion of Earth, Spearhead from Space and Old Sixie’s debut, The Twin Dilemma (no I am not being contrary, I genuinely love it – a truly operatic and commanding performance from Mr Baker), they serve a narrative purpose but also are great adventures.
This month’s second main range release ‘Criss-Cross’ falls in to the latter category. Ostensibly it serves to introduce us (even though we have met her before in End of the Line) to new companion Mrs Constance Clarke (Miranda Raison) – but the tale of 1944 Bletchley Park, code breaking, spies, double agents and aliens is utterly compelling. The story really does have a “start of term” feeling that you get with a new season of Doctor Who (at time of writing we are 8 hours away from the first broadcast of The Magicians Apprentice, so two new seasons in 1 week) it even has a pre-credits sequence. So after last months apocalyptic ending for Old Sixie, we jump back a bit in his timeline to a point where his TARDIS is a bit under the weather and he has become a fixture as “Doctor John Smith” at Bletchley Park – the top secret cypher breaking base of World War Two – he is no longer wearing his coat of many colours, if the cover is to believed he is wearing a similar outfit to Matt Smith’s Doctor (but Old Sixie wears it better) – he is helping to crack codes and has a particular interest in the movements of one Agent Spark, whose name keeps coming up in cyphers with references to “Golden Eggs”… It’s not long into the story before The Doctor’s cover is blown – he is suspected of being a German Spy and he is forced to do a runner along with two Wren’s Sylvia Wimpole (Charlotte Salt) and the wonderful Mrs Constance Clarke. And then it steps up a gear, a huge step up involving said double agents, German spymasters, aliens, codebreaking – it almost features Alan Turing.
The story does not let you pause for breath, it’s a true roller coaster ride of a story (in fact you could say the characters are riding a wave… #spoilers). It’s one of those stories, one of those “where were you when you first heard/saw sort of stories, it’s a bit of a classic. No story though, however good is complete without its characters – and this story being a very special story gives us a proper introduction to Mrs Constance Clarke. Sometimes, just sometimes you know a companion is “right” from the moment you first see or hear them and instantly Miranda Raison is a note perfect companion for Old Sixie – like Evelyn before her, or Ace with Seven, or Donna with Ten, Sarah Jane with Tom or Jo with Pertwee – Mrs Constance Clarke is a perfect foil for Old Sixie. She is obviously upper class, but not annoyingly so and in no way a caricature of a plummy voiced Wren. She is capable, independent, has an overwhelming sense of fairness, duty and decency and insists that the Doctor call her Mrs Clarke for fear of impropriety. Her reason for joining the TARDIS is very interesting, she has a specific time that she wants to return to England – and I am eagerly anticipating the adventures she will have on her journey. All praise to Miranda Raison for making Mrs Clarke such a well rounded character – Mrs Clarke is brought to life by her performance and is a joy to listen to, she instantly joins the list of the all time great companions. In summing up I can confirm that this is no “Imitation Game” its the real deal with no fakery, a real classic story with a classic companion introduced and the beginning of a new chapter in the ever continuing life of Old Sixie – a best of British 10/10.