Soph Watches Classic Who: An Interlude: The First Doctor Adventures Vol. 1 Review.

I have been torn in regards to this. On the one hand, as a First Doctor fan, and someone who adores the first series, this should be a blessing. New content after all is something I crave as a fan of the era. I loved Adventure in Space and Time as well. The actors, playing the actors who I have grown to love, Jacqueline Hill, Carole Ann Ford, William Russell and of course, William Hartnell.When the announcement was made that this would be a thing, I was excited. I had already heard Jemma Powell as Barbara.
I however, had more and more trepidation as information began to be revealed in regards to the project. William Russell and Carole Ann Ford weren’t even told in regards to them ‘being replaced’ and there were comments made at a recent convention over in the States, that led to more concern.I decided, despite these worries, to give it a listen.
I’m so glad that I did.

The Destination Wars is a tricky beast. Perhaps that was because I was still being thrown by hearing a different cast play my favourite characters, particularly hearing Jamie and Claudia as Ian and Susan, but it is something I feel they do grow into as it goes on.Personally, I’ve started to understand what it is actually about Jamie Glover’s performance that I feel is the most difficult to get used to (which, I will admit I did!) Where William Russel’s characterisation of Ian lends itself on the sarcastic and chipper through adversity, despite those lines being present in the script, Jamie gives it a more skeptical and defiant stance. Something, that I hope he grows out of, with the help of getting used to Ian’s character.In terms of the story, Big Finish have written some wonderful things with the First Era finding alien futuristic worlds and this plays on 60s sci-fi had been predicting. I personally picture the Jetsons. Matt Fitton does a lovely job convincing us this could be 2003 at first, until we find out it’s space year 2003, and they’re not on Earth.
Things obviously go wrong, turns out that they have a messiah like figure that moves the human colonists technological advancements forward, copying earth technology, and it’s of course, to no one’s surprise. The Master. I won’t spoil anything, but it’s so interesting to see a First Era Master opposed to the First Doctor, and even more interestingly against Ian, Barbara and Susan.
The story itself I find a little hard to get into, but by the time we are over half way through, it feels that it’s all finally settling a bit. I honestly wasn’t sure if this was the voice acting, or just the way the story was progressing. The best moments for me is the interaction between Ian and The Master, and some small character moments with the Doctor and Barbara, and of course, The Doctor and The Master when they finally meet.
Where Matt tackled a science fiction future from the 60s, Guy Adams took on a pure historical to my sheer delight. New York of all places, in 1888. A time of New York gang violence. I didn’t know much about this period of history, but it did excite me, and Guys creates wonderfully believable characters who thrust themselves into our companions and the Doctor’s lives.It’s also wonderful in terms of character moments. Ian powering through a concussion, Barbara showing her metal and her worth as she always does, and Susan getting time away from her friends to show her strength of character away from her grandfather, whilst the Doctor bonds with an ex gang member. It’s very well written.  Not to mention the fact that Ian and Barbara help a woman who’s run away from domestic abuse. It’s incredibly powerful stuff, without the threat of the historical of event of the Great Hurricane, which will cause you to shiver involuntary every time Barbara talks about it.
So what was my verdict? Honestly. It’s okay. It’s a brilliant way of telling new stories, but perhaps the angle on which this has been sold has made it more problematic as it actually was. I feel like this is a tribute to the First Doctor stories, more than being a First Doctor adventures themselves. Whether you want to consider it canon, I guess that’s up to the individual.I must admit, I am intrigued on what Volume 2 will include next, particularly as John Dorney’s episode.  I must confess that it is his writing of The Rocketmen for the Companion Chronicles that made me fall in love with Classic Who at all.  I am fully aware that he is more than capable of writing a brilliant First Doctor era story.
So, now, I wait with baited breath, wondering what the next volume will bring. If you’re thinking about it, perhaps give it a listen. I’m sure you’ll take something from it, even if it’s that you don’t consider it part of your own canon. Isn’t that what most Doctor Who fans do anyway?

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