Book Review – Doctor Who: The Beginning

  • Title: The Beginning
  • Series: Doctor Who Companion Chronicles
  • Discs: 1 CD
  • Author: Marc Platt
  • Director: Lisa Bowerman
  • Characters: Susan, First Doctor, Quadrigger Stoyn
  • Cast: Carole Ann Ford (Susan), Terry Molloy (Stoyn)
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 08/08/2018

I listened to The Beginning at the beginning of this week, but it was a good and enjoyable story in the Big Finish Companion Chronicles line, even if the details are a bit fuzzy now. The Beginning starts with the Doctor and Susan on the run on Gallifrey, they find a TARDIS in a repair/junk shop and leave. The Doctor and Susan are refugees, fleeing their home, because “their home is no longer their home”. Unfortunately, they aren’t the only ones on board their TARDIS – Quadrigger Stoyn, who is meant to be dismantling the TARDIS engines is also on board when the ship takes off. They discover this when the TARDIS makes a rather ungraceful landing. Stoyn is not the nicest person, and he clearly buys the Gallifreyan party line – whatever it is. The audio doesn’t make things crystal clear, but we can assume a few things: Gallifrey is now supporting isolationism, Stoyn and others have a negative, ethnocentric attitude towards “outsiders” and “aliens”, and although it isn’t stated outright – the Time Lords may even be racist in their attitudes towards others.

The TARDIS half materializes and half crashes on the Earth, but not the Earth we know – and aliens call Archayons are seeding Earth to make it a garden but with the precision of a formal English garden rather than the wildness of a forest. They are doing this from the moon apparently. At first, the Doctor hopes to obtain help from Stoyn (after all he should know how to fix their TARDIS), and a power source from the Archayons. But as it turns out, the Archayons are much darker than they appear, and Stoyn’s price is higher than the Doctor is willing to pay.

The second part begins with Susan waking in a lunar ambulance that is heading to Giant Leap base. She watches the First Contact video shown to her by her nurse, and wonders where her Grandfather is. She can hear his warnings in her head, but she doesn’t know where he is. The ambulance is attacked, the nurse and medical doctor are killed, but Susan finds her grandfather unharmed. They manage to warn Giant Leap base that the ambulance is infested with deadly parasites, but then they see Giant Leap base being attacked. The Blue Lightning clearly is an Archayon weapon. Somehow the Doctor and Susan get to the TARDIS and return to the Archayon base, which is now attacking Earth and the moonbase. Apparently, the Archayons are upset that their order has been upset by untamed life in the millions of years that they were frozen. Still, the Doctor and Susan manage to warn the Earth, which is well-prepared to attack back and even destroy the Archayons weapons and base. Stoyn, who has sided with the Archayons, is left behind and the Doctor and Susan leave in the TARDIS, which has a new power cell and is sort of working. They visit another planet.

This is a new and different take on how the Doctor and Susan left Gallifrey. I liked the idea of the two being refugees. The Archayons are unusual creatures – looking like glass peanuts, with the ability to flow together to form structures or do work, then flow apart as individual beings. However, in part two they become almost cardboard villains – so determined to not only seed life but orderly life they can’t see the forest for the trees. Stoyn, whom I also encountered in Luna Romana is a weird character – played by Terry “Davros” Molloy – he flips between government functionary to nearly radical “anti-alien” activist in a sense. He’s probably meant to suggest the type of people the Doctor and Susan are fleeing, but it feels off. When Classic Who visited Gallifrey, it was often shown to be a rather boring and stuffy place. But Gallifrey also seems to have an awful lot of corruption and political intrigue too. So in some aspects, the character of Quadrigger Stoyn doesn’t quite fit in with that. But then, The Beginning clearly indicates that something’s happened on Gallifrey – something serious enough that the Doctor and Susan are literally fleeing for their lives.

Recommended.

Find out more about Big Finish audios at their website: www.bigfinish.com.

Click the link to order The Beginning on CD or Download.

Note: No promotional consideration was paid for this review. I review because I enjoy it!

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Book Review – Doctor Who: The Good Companion

  • Title: The Good Companion
  • Author: Nick Abadzis
  • Artists: Giorgia Sposito, Adele Matera, Arianna Florean, Richard Starkings, Jimmy Betancourt
  • Line:  Tenth Doctor (Year 3 – “Facing Fate”, Vol. 3)
  • Characters: Tenth Doctor, Gabby Gonzales, Cindy Wu, Anubis (“Noobis”), Cleo
  • Collection Date: 2018
  • Publisher: Titan Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 08/07/2018

**Spoiler Alert** I loved the conclusion to Titan Comics Tenth Doctor Year Three series. It wrapped up everything and even tied into the Free Comic Book Day Event for 2018. The Good Companion starts with Cleo chasing a hidden alien. She catches him, but when his Shimmer shield evaporates he is attacked and destroyed. Cleo, however, finds an alien device that he was hiding. When she looks at the data on the device, she’s shocked and immediately calls the Doctor.

Meanwhile, the Doctor, Cindy, and Gabby are on Ouloumos, Zhe’s private moon. Gabby is learning to control her Block Transfer Computations powers, while the Doctor and Cindy are there for moral support. But Cindy is getting bored. The Doctor is trying to be supportive and not feel too confined by staying in the same place. To keep himself busy, the Doctor is trying to repair Marcie, whom he describes to Cindy as a highly advanced robot. When the Doctor casually remarks that he needs the right parts to repair Marcie, Cindy urges him to take a quick trip in the TARDIS and that they won’t be missed. Sigh. “The trouble with time travel is never having enough time.”

The Doctor and Cindy head to Mechma Onzlo III space station where Onzlo is happy to see him – because his wife is not his wife. Before the Doctor can investigate, Marteek confirms this and heads off in a flying saucer that makes a TARDIS-like sound as it takes off. The Doctor and Cindy start to follow in the TARDIS to track Marteek. Meanwhile, Noobis is still at the library on Aramuko with his girlfriend, Siffhoni, who needles him – he decides to call the Doctor to pick him up to prove the Doctor exists. Not to be outdone – Gabby realizes the Doctor is gone and gets angry, but she is able to control her vortex butterflies and Block Transfer powers. And the Doctor gets an emergency message in the TARDIS.

Leaving Marteek’s trail, for now, the Doctor goes to Earth to see Cleo who shows him the alien artifact, which says the Earth will cease to exist within a few days. The information and device seem to be legitimate – but Cindy points out that it can’t be since they’ve been to Earth’s future.

Gabby is kidnapped by the Time Sentinels. When Zhe tries to contact the Doctor about this – he literally is too busy to answer her call, what with the Earth about to be destroyed and the cloister bell ringing because Noobis wants the Doctor to come and pick him up.

Gabby’s experiences with the Time Sentinels are exceedingly well-told. First, everything is black and then red and she’s confronted by an Ood that has a mysterious message for her. When she wakes up, she’s being held by the Time Sentinels. Aspect Red has gone way beyond his programming and wants to destroy the Doctor whom he sees as a threat to the Web of Time. The Time Sentinels want to convince Gabby to be a weapon against the Doctor. Hint: it won’t work.

The Doctor, meanwhile, realises the box Cleo has is a trap, as he tells Cindy: “Earth’s supposed destruction is a piece of cheese. We’re the mouse. Question is: Who’s the Cat that set the trap?” The Doctor and Cindy go to pick up Noobis. When Noobis sees Cleo it starts a cascade of his memories.

Gabby is hounded and harassed by the Time Sentinels, but she also finds an ally (of sorts) in Aspect Blue who realises that Aspect Red is going beyond his programming. Gabby is knocked out and wakes in a cell with the real Marteek.

On Zhe’s moon, as Cleo and Cindy catch-up over a meal and become closer, the Time Sentinels plans start to come together – and it’s not good for the Doctor.

The Doctor and Siffhoni have a heart to heart and she warms up to the Doctor. A giant red maw appears above Zhe’s moon. The Doctor challenges the Time Sentinels. Gabby attacks the Red Sentinel and has a chat with the Lock-Keeper. Aspect Red sees creativity as chaos and has become convinced the Doctor can no longer exist because he inspires the creativity and the strength of his companions. Aspect Red is knocked out – and Blue becomes Commander. (His level-headed approach is short-lived.) The Doctor gets Marcie working and introduces Cleo and Cindy to Marcie. The Doctor asks Marcie to find the temporal track of “Marteek’s” ship. In her cell, Gabby meets the real Marteek. As the Doctor makes contact, he hears part of Gabby’s warnings that, “It’s a trap”, and the Doctor threatens the time Sentinels.

Commander Blue is taken out, Aspect Red resumes control. But in the TARDIS, the Doctor realises something is off about Siffhoni – it turns out she is another aspect of Sentinel Aspect Blue. This really angers Noobis, because he sees his relationship with his “girlfriend” was fake. But Blue does get to explain a bit.

The Doctor with Marcie’s help puts together a Time Cone Inverter, but he will need a second time capsule to get it to work.

Meanwhile, the Time Sentinels and the Lock-Keeper fight among themselves, and the Red TARDIS shows up which infected Aspect Red. However, the Red TARDIS provides an escape for Gabby and Marteek. Not the best escape, mind you, but any port in a storm.

Marcie stops the Red TARDIS from ramming the Doctor’s TARDIS, and Gabby and Marteek are temporarily safe in the TARDIS. However, Gabby talks the Doctor into letting her go to the Red TARDIS again so the Time Cone Inverter maneuver will work. Aspect Blue goes to help. Gabby has picked up some advanced Gallifreyan time mechanics and math, which the Doctor doesn’t understand. Even with her Block Transfer Computation powers, she shouldn’t understand Gallifreyan engineering. However, there is little time to argue about it and Blue and Gabby go into the Red TARDIS to anchor it. Marcie starts the Time Cone Invertor and Noobis assures the Maw and the pocket universe collapse together – trapping all the traps in their own trap, ending the danger of the Time Sentinels, and assuring that the Gallifreyian Time Lock remains locked and safe. Gabby reaches out for the Tenth Doctor but falls away – and is caught in the TARDIS by the Twelfth Doctor.

I loved The Good Companion it’s a complex story but it’s not confusing to read. I liked the characterization and I was glad Gabby didn’t die in the end. The story also really, really, really moved fast – with so much going on at once that even the Doctor was having trouble keeping track of everything. (Marteek not being Marteek, Cleo’s message, Noobis calling for a ride home, and Zhe trying to reach the Doctor to tell him Gabby’s been kidnapped – all pretty much happen at the same time. Even a Time Lord can’t be four places at once!) I also liked the way the Time Sentinels and their Aspects were written. They are an awful enemy – and I mean that in the best possible way, the Time Sentinels are scary. I also liked how the scenes in Gabby’s point-of-view were written, and the mysterious messenger turns out to be someone very unexpected indeed.

I highly, highly recommend The Good Companion but it is absolutely necessary to read all three volumes at once and in order.

Read my review of Year 3: Facing Fate Vol. 1: Breakfast at Tyranny’s.

Read my review of Year 3: facing Fate Vol. 2: Vortex Butterflies.