Audio and radio play reviews

Review: The Companion Chronicles – Helicon Prime

Helicon Prime

I don’t remember the Patrick Troughton era of Doctor Who being particularly sh*t. There was a multitude of classics – Tomb of the Cybermen, Invasion, The Moonbase, Enemy of the World, The War Games, The Faceless Ones, and The Mind Robber to name but a few. Sh*t it was not.

So why then have Big Finish, when given two chances to finally put together a couple of Patrick Troughton stories through their Companion Chronicles range, decided that ‘sh*t’ was the defining characteristic of the era? In series one of the Companion Chronicles, we had the Zoe tale Fear of the Daleks, which was just painful to listen to. Now we have Frazer Hines reading another piece of rubbish. Oh dear.

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Audio and radio play reviews

Review: The Companion Chronicles – Mother Russia

Mother Russia, the first in the second season of Big Finish's Companion Chronicles

As we all know, the Companion Chronicles is Big Finish’s attempts at filling in the gaps in its Doctor Who range. With Doctors one to three now in the great big TARDIS in the sky, Doctor four fruitier than a wine gum and Doctor nine more likely to toast his manhood on an open fire than have anything to do with Doctor Who again, the chances of getting full cast productions of audio plays starring these particular Doctors is very small. Fortunately, many of the companions of these Doctors are alive and well and ready to get paid a reasonable sum of money for a day’s work reading a short book into a microphone.

The first series of Companion Chronicles featured Vicki, Zoe, Liz Shaw and Romana II, to varying effect. Some were good, some weren’t. Series two isn’t too different and I’ll be looking at some of the others over the next few days (the fourth’s not out until January, unfortunately). The first, though, I’ll be looking at right now. Ooh.

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Where are the repeats we want at Christmas? Introducing “The Canon”

It’s an off-repeated mantra that there are too many repeats at Christmas. Oh look, here’s a Liberal Democrat spokesman doing it now (seriously dude, have you nothing better to do?).

Yet, it’s patently not true any more. Yes you can barp on about how every Christmas, you always get The Wizard of Oz*, The Great Escape**, etc, but if you actually look in the schedules, for the most part, there is a complete lack of the supposedly oft-repeated collection this year. The controllers have listened, and now our cultural Christmas heritage is no longer there to be enjoyed by a new generation.

Now it’s not like British TV ever reached the US’s dizzying levels of shared re-run heritage – we’ll never beat Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, which has been airing pretty much every year since 1964 and now gets repeated several times each year over Christmas. But there are films and TV shows that used to come out every Christmas, that we all used to watch because there was nothing else on, but because they’re not on any more, no one over a certain age will have a clue about***.

This is a shame. Whither goes our shared cultural heritage? If there’s a supposed literary canon that everyone must have read to fully understand British culture (Shakespeare, Austen, Milton, the Bible, Burns, the Mabinogion, Dylan Thomas, etc), surely there must be a film and TV canon that must be seen by all literate citizens in order to understand their own cultural history?

Introducing: The Canon

So, my friends, I’m suggesting we start putting together our collective heads to decide this canon – which will henceforth be called The Canon, it’s so important – so that we can petition for their educational repeating every Christmas.

I may – or may not since I’m quite unreliable sometimes – be slowly assembling a list over the coming week of films and TV programmes that are quint-essentially British and that everyone should have watched at some point in their lives.

But – IT’S A MEME EVERYONE – feel free to add your suggestions for additions to The Canon in the comments section below or on your own blog, leaving a link below so we can all read them together. I’m guessing Doctor Who will figure in it somehow.

I’m going to get the ball rolling with something that someone has already sent me for Christmas – Roger Moore in North Sea Hijack.

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  • Showtime acquires Secret Diary of a Call Girl