Susan's War:
The Shoreditch Intervention.

Audio  As Eddie Robson explains in the behind the scene section of his contribution to Susan's War, when he wrote his Short Trip All Hands on Deck, it was with the expectation that it was to be her final adventure before the Time War with presumably the veiled references to her demise in the revival providing the melancholy conclusion to her story.

But understandably, with, as we saw with the Valeyard in the last Eighth Doctor box, Big Finish experimenting to see what happened to all kinds of supporting characters during this Whoniverse spanning moment, why not see how Susan Who would actually work for her people against the Daleks given that she's been away from her home planet for so long.

The solution is to turn her into a spy, of sorts, a kind of minister without portfolio probably being sent on the kinds of missions the Doctor would be if he'd agreed to work with them full time.  Initially diplomacy, then undercover, then as weapons inspector and finally as a CIA agent, each story demonstrates that her loyalties and ideologies have diverged from her grandfather.

The result is utterly superb.  From the first story which reintroduces her to the elderly Ian Chesterton (the timeline apparently having diverged since Death of the Doctor's concluding companion check-in) through the following invasion and base under siege, they're never less than exciting and nostalgic, sprinkling just enough kisses to the past without going to second Panopticon.

At the centre of proceedings is Carole Ann Ford.  With the exception of soap opera, are there any actors who've played a character so consistently across so many years?  Ford says that she had to keep reminding herself that she was playing the older Susan here, but that certainly doesn't show as we can still hear that she's the same person but with a new set of priorities.

The Shoreditch Intervention

When you see Alan Barnes's name on a story featuring the Eighth Doctor, you know it's going to be special.  As arguably Eighth's originator on audio, he always catches his voice so it's strange that this is the first time he's written the Time War version.  Typically, Barnes captures the Doctor's slight weariness at trying to keep to his own set of values intact while the universe crashes around him.

He also set himself the immense task of telling a story set between An Unearthly Child and Remembrance of the Daleks without sabotaging either of them and although it's sometimes challenging to have scenes from stories with twenty-five years between them in your memory, the fusion of classic, revival and wilderness mythology ultimately leads to something else.

Which isn't to say the story isn't a bit messy in place.  There are a couple of "What? What?!?" moments especially when causality goes out of the window which isn't something you expect to hear in an Eighth Doctor story.  Ahem.  But the reunion of Eighth and Susan helps to keep things grounded, their unlikely chemistry carried over from (jeez) nearly a decade ago.

There's also a good balance between keeping Susan prominent and giving Eighth his due.  One of the threads is in relation to her name.  Initially I thought this might be deep cut reference back to Sometime Never... but her TARDIS Datacore page suggests other shenanigans.  It's even suggested she might not be a Time Lord at all (which makes you wonder what she knows about the Doctor's origins).

Placement:  Perhaps around the time of his appearances with River Song and the War Master?

No comments:

Post a comment