There you go, that was rather good wasn’t it? first single for Marillion with new singer Steve Hogarth after original singer Fish left the band and very very relevant to the review of this months Early Adventures release – “The Fifth Traveller”, because to quote Marillion it deals with a “banquo at the banquet & a cuckoo in the nest” this is the story of when The first Doctor, Ian, Barbara & Vicki traveled with Jospa (James Joyce) an orphan from the Earth’s future – the team encountered him when he picked The Doctor’s pocket and they took him away from the toxic slums into Time and Space. We all remember good old Jospa don’t we? how he and Vicki fought like brother and sister? How he had adventures in Rome & on Vortis? Surely we all remember Jospa because our heroes most definitely do……
Yes its one of THOSE stories, where the viewer immediately knows more than the characters, where the established order has been subverted and something is not quite right – those of you familiar with the Torchwood episode “Adam” or the Buffy episode “Superstar” will know what I mean – there is a character that the regulars treat like he has always been there but the audience is wrong footed by this change in dynamic and is constantly trying to figure it out.
The story plays out on the Jungle world of the Arunde, but is is really about Jospa and his place in the TARDIS team – James Joyce plays him perfectly as a bright, breezy and an innocent – a foil to Vicki almost the brother she never had and when on a trip to the planet Vavidic Joppa discovers an organic control device that will allow the Doctor to control the TARDIS and allow him to get Ian & Barbara home they could not be happier.
The Fifth Traveller is one of “those” sorts of stories – it is also a very very good Hartnell era story down to the incidental music, the way the characters talk to each, the setting and the world that writer Philip Lawrence has created. The world building is superb a whole culture of ape like Arunde who communicate through telepathy and almost have a hive mind – the listener knows the structure of their society, their place in the world created for this audio and how they perceive the wider universe outside their sphere of experience thinking that the TARDIS team are from “another jungle”.
The actors are on top form with William Russell doing double duty as both the First Doctor & Ian Chesterton, Maureen O’Brien being Vicki and narrating & Jemma Powell capturing the essence of the late and much missed Jacqueline Hill as Barbara.
Russell & Powell really do capture the joy of Ian & Barbara wanting to get home, & the possibility Jospa has given them of achieving this – Ian promises to take him to a football match and longs for a drink at the Cricketers Arms – its these little touches that really do make Ian & Barbara two of the most believable, likeable and well rounded characters in the shows history & Big Finish really have served them well with this script.
With jungle sets painted in shades of monochrome, period sound design & period style acting and lines and a believable recreation of the season 2 TARDIS teams motivations this really is an excellent release for pure nostalgia junkies – but it also has a beating heart of danger that is very very modern because to come back to Marillion there is a Banquo at the Banquet & a Cuckoo in the nest – and because this story really is about the Uninvited Guest and gets a very well deserved 9/10.