WARNING: Significant spoilers follow!
Zoe (Wendy Padbury) has always been one of my favorite companions. I’ve enjoyed her in the few TV existing stories she’s in, and I always look forward to hearing her in an audio story. I still remember fondly “The Prison in Space”, which was a really great story.
So it is with a sense of disappointment that I write this review. This wasn’t a bad story, but it didn’t hold my attention at any point, and though I really wanted to like it, I came away very unimpressed.
The story consists of Zoe talking with Jen (Charlie Hayes), a company psychiatrist who is assigned to try and plumb the depths of Zoe’s memory (and bypass the memory blocks implanted by the Time Lords at the end of “The War Games”). This leads to Zoe relating, in narration, a story involving her, the Second Doctor, and Jamie. The story itself involves a woman who may be dead and alive at the same time, and aliens exploding into something similar to scrambled eggs.
The writing is good and intelligent and during the parts where Zoe is actually conversing with Jen, I had no trouble paying attention and keeping track of what was going on. The problem exists with the narration elements of the story. When it’s just Wendy Padbury as Zoe saying, “And then I did this and the Doctor did that, and said, ‘Oh, my giddy aunt!’”…well, that gets a little bit dull and it’s something I can’t focus on.
In support, I will say that there were some elements of the narration that did work well. There’s a scene where a young man is talking about the girl he’d loved since they were children, and doing so by showing the Doctor and friends a bit of string they’d tried to use as an improvised phone line. But that one scene, while excellent, just wasn’t enough for me.
The companion chronicles series is very excellent, and I feel that when done correctly, it can be very good. But the best way to do it, I feel, is through a story that contains two or three characters talking with each other and little to no narration. The previously mentioned, “The Prison in Space” from the Lost Stories line is a great example of this.
Because I enjoyed the portions where Zoe and Jen were interacting, I’m giving this story a slightly higher rating than I normally would, and it isn’t bad by any means. If you don’t mind the narration, you’ll probably enjoy it. Also, as it’s a part of a series, I look forward to the next part regardless of the format they use for the story. But I do hope it’s much more dialogue than narration.
NEXT MONTH: The Seventh Doctor, Lysandra and Sally return in “Project: Nirvana”
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