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The Tenth Doctor Chronicles, part 1-3

Big Finish's Tenth Doctor Chronicles came out yesterday, and I stayed up way past my bedtime to listen to the first three: "The Taste of Death", "Backtrack", and "Wild Pastures".

Before I go on to review them, I want to explain that these are different from other Big Finish audios that you may be familiar with. Most of Big Finish's works are audio plays, which means that they are full-cast plays, with actors working off scripts. The "Chronicles" line are audio prose stories, with a narrator who also does the voices for the Doctor and most of the other characters, and usually one guest actor who plays one of the other characters. One thing that's important to note is that since these are prose stories, with paragraphs of description and whatnot, there's less time for long, complex plotlines. That doesn't mean they can't be fun or meaningful, of course.

Each of the four stories comes from a different point in the Tenth Doctor's run: "The Taste of Death" from Rose's tenure, "Backtrack" from Martha's, "Wild Pastures" from Donna's, and the last, "Last Chance", is set post-"Planet of the Dead".

The Tenth Doctor Chronicles are narrated by Jacob Dudman, and he is a fantastic Tenth Doctor mimic. He's especially good at meaty, emotional lines, and you can really picture David Tennant in his stead, growling out, "Ohhh, brilliant!!" He also voices the companions, and he never tries to sound female, but instead opts for their style, and he certainly does a better Rose than Billie Piper did in the Tenth Doctor Adventure last year.

The following are non-spoilerific reviews for the three stories. I may go into more (spoilerific) detail in a future post.


This one is by far the worst of the three I've listened to and one of the worst audio stories I've heard in general, which is sad because it's the first one in the series and it made me wonder if I'd made a mistake buying the set. I was unimpressed with JD's performance here - it was lackluster and barely Doctor-y - but after listening to the other two, I think this story simply didn't give him anything to work with. The dialogue was dull, with very little to distinguish Ten from any other Doctor, or any other character for that matter, and I suspect it's very difficult for an actor to get into character when the character is nonexistent. (If I remember correctly, I felt the same way about the DT's performance in series 2 of the Tenth Doctor Adventures as well.) The plot was uninspired, there was no twist, and the solution was contrived. You have to have at least one of the three be good to make it worth it. Also, the author's moral points were glaringly obvious, and that usually kills a story stone dead. Rating: 4/10



This was a fine adventure, though I think it suffered from being an audio: some of the scenes would have worked better if we could see what was happening. The dialogue was top-notch, and this is where JD shone, digging into those growly vowels. Of these three stories, I think this one had the best dialogue for the Doctor. Also, the guest character, Nathan Hobb, was a lot of fun. Lastly, this was a good story for Martha. Though Nathan got more of the spotlight, she was responsible and efficient, and the Doctor relied on her to keep people safe. I recommend this story for a nice, enjoyable Doctor Who adventure. Rating: 7/10



This story, written by possibly my favorite DW author, James Goss (haven't decided if I prefer him over Nev Fountain), is set in Donna's time, but the guest character is Sylvia Noble. Now, I know many of my friends are Donna fans, so I will say outright, if you're looking for lots of Donna, this is not the audio for you. This story is about Sylvia. Donna appears very briefly at the beginning of the story, but not again. Also, this story is not like JG's other story about a companion mother, "Retail Therapy" from the Ninth Doctor Chronicles, in which a part of it is Jackie trying to come to terms with Rose's relationship with the Doctor. Sylvia does mention Donna a couple of times with regards to the Doctor, but this story is really about her beginning to see beyond her self-centered little world.

Sylvia is that self-important but jaded woman you love to hate, and here, you get a clearer view of her life and her disappointment in almost everything. She says everything that's on her mind; some of it will make you cringe, and some of it will make you laugh out loud. The story itself isn't particularly inventive - there really isn't enough time in a Chronicle story to really be innovative - but it's a satisfying backdrop to Sylvia's journey. And Jacqueline King nails the performance. Rating: 7/10



The final story in the set, "Last Chance", features Lady Christina de Souza from "Planet of the Dead". I did not like her and I'm finding it difficult to muster the motivation to listen to this audio. So, don't hold your breath on a review of it. :)

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Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
dtstrainers
Apr. 20th, 2018 09:40 am (UTC)
Good to know. I still haven’t got the Ninth Doctor stories or the Tenth with Rose, but I think I’ll do a Big Finish shopping spree soon.
bas_math_girl
Apr. 21st, 2018 07:55 am (UTC)
At least you've confirmed my suspicions, so thank you for that. Would you say that it's worth getting the set if you're only interested in half the stories?
shivver13
Apr. 21st, 2018 05:01 pm (UTC)
You know, I'm not sure it is. I would say so for the Ninth Doctor Chronicles, because, just like this one, two of the stories are good, but "Retail Therapy" (Jackie's story) is so good that I'd definitely recommend it. For this one, there's no must-have. I'd wait until they have a sale. Are you on their mailing list? If you are, look for their occasional new Who sales - I'd expect the TDCs to go on sale in 6-12 months. Usually they have sale for the Doctor's birthday week, but unfortunately, DT shares with Peter Davison (and Peter Capaldi and David Bradley...) and the TDCs are too new for a sale anyway.
tkel_paris
Apr. 22nd, 2018 06:32 am (UTC)
Wow. Not exactly encouraging. At least the one with Sylvia sounds good. I'd definitely wait for a sale or for the next G1. And I still lack any desire to get the second series of Tenth Doctor Adventures. This narrator really did a better job of getting Rose's tone right than BP did?!
shivver13
Apr. 22nd, 2018 07:01 am (UTC)
Well, vocally, Rose is a London chav. I know that BP said she had a lot of problems with Rose's accent back during series 1 and 2, and I guess she decided putting that much effort into an audio play wasn't worth it? I just remember hearing Jacob Dudman saying, "Fo'ce o' 'abi'" (Force of habit, with the missing h and the ending glottal stop) and thinking, "Yes, that's exactly what Rose should sound like."
tkel_paris
Apr. 22nd, 2018 07:18 am (UTC)
So the accent was off even then? Whoa. I hope it was more she couldn't make it happen no matter what she tried rather than she didn't put in the effort at all. Anyone with the latter attitude ought to be passed over for audio plays; it's ALL in the voice, after all. Get that wrong and the effect is ruined.

I feel that way because I've seen too many people trying to put in only the bare minimum work, and sometimes not even that. Maybe I expect a lot more from a Big Finish work after all of the PM-Doctor stories I've heard. Got any suggestions of things to listen to so I can hear what Rose's accent ought to have sounded like?
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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