Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles 1.1 – Frostfire, written by Marc Platt, directed by Mark J Thompson (Big Finish, 2007)
Earlier this year, I posted about the actors who have appeared in the new Doctor Who and the recent Jane Austen adaptations. I later commented in AustenBlog, confirming to the Editrix that the Doctor has met Austen before. In both cases, I pointed to the recent release from Big Finish, Frostfire.
Unlike Big Finish’s ongoing line of original audio plays featuring Doctors 5-8, the Companion Chronicles are essentially original stories of the first four Doctors, as re-told by one of the companions experiencing that story. In Frostfire, this companion is Vicki, who left the 1st Doctor in ancient Troy, changed her name to Cressida, and has moved on with her husband Troilus to Carthage in 1164 BCE. And she is recounting this tale to a mysterious Cinder.
The Doctor, Vicki and Steven land in London in February 1814. Encountering a frost fair, they come across a strange egg, the sight of which gets Vicki fainting. Helped by Miss Jane Austen, the Doctor and his friends discover the egg’s true purpose and manage to contain the creature within… or do they? The last five minutes, when the Cinder’s identity and future are revealed, do make sense when you re-read, as I did, the back of the CD case. It’s obviously only something that can be achieved with time travel, so that is a nice touch by Marc Platt.
Maureen O’Brien returns here as Vicki/Cressida, and she does breathe new life into a character she last played more than 40 years ago. She doesn’t attempt to re-create Vicki as she portrayed her then, but as a Vicki remembering this adventure from long ago (or is it the far future?). She even has the Doctor’s mannerisms down, with the “my boy”s and “hmm”s inserted at opportune moments. It is here that she describes her feelings for Steven: “dishy” as he is, she has always thought of him as a big brother whom she can tease and who can take the blame from the Doctor if need be.
Those feelings were prodded from Vicki by Miss Jane Austen. In terms of her literary career, it is correct that only two novels have been published (Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, both anonymously) when the Doctor meets her here, despite his awkward fan-gushing moment. (Marc Platt must have been influenced by that scene in “The Unquiet Dead” when the 9th Doctor discovers he’s in the same carriage as Charles Dickens.) Miss Austen, like Dickens, Shakespeare, and Christie in the new series, takes to the Doctor and his companions quite quickly, and the scene where she punches out a fire-eater has to be heard to be believed. And the description of her: “velvet paws and steel claws”! Forget ladylike – I’ll take this kick-ass, take-charge version of Miss Austen any day! Janeites would definitely cringe at the characterization, but I might believe this version better than that in Becoming Jane.
I quite enjoyed listening to Frostfire, and it will certainly be in line to be re-listened in the near future. It would be a good introduction for anyone interested in the 1st Doctor, or anyone who has seen the new series and how the Doctor has interacted with literary greats. This one could certainly be used as a new-series story, had Marc Platt been given the chance to develop it.
45 years ago this month, on November 23, 1963, the first episode of Doctor Who, “An Unearthly Child”, debuted on BBC Television. Little did anyone realize at the time that, almost half a century later, it still resonates as a cultural institution in Britain. Indeed, the most recent episode to be aired in the UK, “Journey’s End”, was the most-watched episode that week, the first time Doctor Who ever achieved that milestone. If nothing else, it’s a testament to the principals of this decade’s revival, notably outgoing executive producer Russell T Davies, to bring back the magic and the wonder that millions of Britons experienced on Saturday nights in the 1960s and 1970s.
1. CANUCKS 4 – 2 LEAFS. When the schedule was released and saw the 16:00 start (Pacific time), I thought that was obvious pandering to the Centre of the Universe (TM) to have that game be the first half of the HNIC doubleheader. As I watched, though, I was glad it was televised at that time; a lot more viewers can see the Leafs lose in (Eastern) prime time, yet again.
2. I’m posting this from my parents’ house, as wireless ‘net access died overnight. The Airport Extreme looks like it’s still plugged in, but it doesn’t transmit the signal. I don’t know – it’s one of those strange things that can happen with machinery. I’m taking it to the Genius Bar tomorrow and have them look at it. Hopefully it’s not too messed up, because I don’t think I can afford a replacement right now. I recall reading a few weeks ago that, in these difficult times of almost-recession, people can give up daily lattes, cable TV, or holiday travel to save money, Internet access is one of the last things people will give up. Could that have been possible five years ago? At the turn of the millennium?
This November 11 marks 90 years since the armistice that ended the Great War. It may be a stat holiday (or this year, some of you may have taken a four-day weekend), but it’s more than that. It is a chance for us to commemorate the great sacrifices of Canadian soldiers and peacekeepers from the Boer War all the way to the present conflict in Afghanistan.
When I did a guided tour of London and Paris this past summer, our bus stopped at Vimy Ridge. Going up to the National Memorial there, it was incredible just to walk around it and read the inscriptions, particularly the names of the soldiers who lost their lives during that battle in April 1917 [wiki].
It was similar to my visits to old cathedrals and castles elsewhere in my trip, but Vimy Ridge was special in that I could almost feel the heavy seriousness of what transpired there 90 years ago, but also a sense of sereneness; the memorial is a permanent reminder of our past, of what many young men endured to secure a peaceful future for generations to come. Obviously, it came to naught 21 years later, but their sacrifices should never be taken in vain. Now more than ever, especially with one remaining surviving Canadian veteran of the First World War, we should take a renewed interest beyond the history books and look at the experiences of the soldiers and record them for posterity.
Do take a moment at 11:00 on 11/11 to pause and reflect. Lest we forget.
Reading about his death was certainly a shock, particularly since it has been a while since I’ve read his works. When Jurassic Park came out in theatres, I went and read the novel first. That was my first exposure to Michael Crichton’s work. There’s always something intriguing in the novels I have read, from race relations in Rising Sun to the politics of sexual harassment in Disclosure. Oh yeah, and dinosaurs run amok. Timeline in particular had that great combination of science and history, as well as the quotation that spurred me on as I finished my undergrad: “If you don’t know history, you don’t know anything.”
I do recall the row regarding State of Fear and how it went against convention in the climate-change debate, but I haven’t gotten around to figuring out why. But it just might be Crichton’s unfortunate passing that would get me to revisit his works, particularly the ones I haven’t read yet. Regardless, Michael Crichton was a big influence in my reading, and his genius will be missed.
Canucks win, Leafs lose (albeit in OT), and Americans voted for CHANGE!
What a difference from eight years ago. The 2000 election was great timing for the American Government and Politics course I took that fall, and when it kept going, and going, all the way to the course’s final exam. More than anything, that course, and that election, got me interested in that wacky and weird world of American politics, good and bad. It’s amazing what’s happened in just eight years. At what can be considered a truly low point in the USA’s standing in the world, one man mobilized millions to hope for better, to make a difference, to effect change. Now, Barack Obama is President-elect, but the work is just beginning. I watched his victory speech, and despite myself, yelled “Yes we can!” at the end, in sync with the hundreds of thousands in Chicago.
I did mention this election campaign was miles ahead in the interesting factor, compared to the Canadian version three weeks ago. And Obama made it so. Watching his speech, and many others before that, you could see how he connected with many Americans disenchanted amid financial crises and unpopular wars. He has a certain quality that separates him from past presidents. He is the messenger of the new voice in America, and its citizens have confirmed it tonight.
Of course, once the celebrations die down, the work has just begun. We shall soon see if Obama can bring about the change he has talked about for almost two years.
I’m not really politically active, but there’s something strangely addictive about watching election results as they come in. I couldn’t watch the results of the most recent Canadian general election because I was actually working at the ballot box all day. This time, I’m parking my ass on the couch Tuesday night for the US election, which is infinitely more interesting than the Canadian one. And it’s not just Obama vs McCain: there are elections for the whole House of Representatives, as well as a third of the Senate. The remote control’s batteries will probably be replaced by the end of the night, what with any number of channels to choose from.
I will likely be focusing on the main news channels that I have available: CBC Newsworld, CNN, BBC World, and MSNBC. I might drop in on the main networks from time to time. Also at 19:00 (CTV) is the live Indecision ’08 with Stewart and Colbert. And 19:00 is the start of the Canucks game (at home against Nashville), so another channel to add to the surflist. But the election could very well be over by then, so who knows? This is going to be one heck of a night.