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Review: The Companion Chronicles 3x10 - The Magician's Oath

Posted on July 24, 2009 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Magician's OathThere's been a bit of a gap in my Companion Chronicles coverage. Sorry about that, but there's far too many podcasts on my iPhone as it is, and the mainstream Doctor Who releases, which take priority anyway, seem to be getting longer and longer.

Anyway, I've listened to the last three of the third season and I'll gradually be putting the reviews up over the next week. Woo hoo?

The Magician's Oath features someone, like Sara Kingdom, who is only debatably a companion (the next one's even more debatable but more on that next time). It's Captain Mike Yates, the potential UNIT love interest for Jo Grant during the Jon Pertwee era, who went a bit looney after looking in a crystal and seeing some dinosaurs.

Here, though, he's in fine form, telling us all how a PJ Hammond-esque magician was more than met the eye.

Plot
"You must never tell. Not a soul. That's the magician's oath."

A heatwave in July and a tube train is dscovered buried in twenty inches of snow. A Saturday afternoon in Hyde Park and scores of people are instantly frozen to death where they stand while the sun beats down from the sky. Freak weather conditions in London, and the Doctor and UNIT are called in to find the cause.

Meanwhile, a street magician, who was witnessed at the scene of the tragedy, entertains crowds in Covent Garden. As Jo Grant and Mike Yates disobey orders and investigate alone, they discover an enemy wth terrifying powers. And they may not live to share his secrets...

Is it any good?
It is actually very good. Slightly too long and meandering at times, and there are bits where just about everyone behaves like a complete thicky, but quite a good story all the same.

In part, that's because both actor and script seem to have grasped the metaphor. The script knows a story is being told to someone - a girl in UNIT reception - and so is written like a story being told to someone, not as a book. Similarly, Richard Franklin actually acts the telling of the story, rather than blankly reading it out and hoping that a couple of impressions will make everyone forget what he's doing. Although he does do a very good Brigadier impression, it must be said.

The story itself isn't totally groundbreaking, but is quite clever, fits into the Jon Pertwee style well, and has the nice touch of almost all the bad things that happen being the Doctor's fault. There's a relatively decent resolution, too. It's a little maudlin at times, with considerable musings by our Mike on the nature of becoming old and irrelevant, versus youthful but stupid; there's also all sorts of continuity references to modern day Who, and how it's all change at UNIT. But I actually liked both of those elements, so let's not knock it for them.

All in all, another very decent piece of work from the Companion Chronicles range. I'm actually at the point where I'm thinking that if you like at the price of the plays, their lengths and their general quality as of the third season, they're actually a better bet now than the mainstream range, even if you don't get the Doctors in them. Well, apart from the 6th Doctor/Charley plays, of course.

Recommended.

Price
Amazon CD: £8.99
Big Finish download: £7.99
Big Finish CD: £8.99

Cast
Richard Franklin (Mike Yates)
Michael Chance (Diamond Jack)

Author: Scott Handcock
Director: Nigel Fairs

Related entries

  • July 31, 2009: Review: The Companion Chronicles 3x12 - The Stealers From Saiph
    A review of the Big Finish Doctor Who Companion Chronicles audio play The Stealers From Saiph, read by Mary Tamm

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