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The Lost Stories: The First Doctor Box Set…
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How great was this? Very enjoyable indeed. It helps, of course, that I will listen to damn near anything William Russell narrates at this point. If Big Finish released a 2-disc CD of him reading the cinema listings, I'd probably have to buy it. And I really wouldn't have minded if he'd done the narration for this one all on his own; that said, Carole Ann Ford made a great counterpoint and I thought the way the story was handed off from one to the other worked really well. I was completely used to it by the end of the first episode.

The story itself was very good, strong historical stuff in the vein we know and love from the Hartnell era. I took particular joy in some of the early dialogue that hinted at just how different "Doctor Who" could have been, what with Susan worrying about heaven and the Doctor talking about "the Allmighty." The Doctor's firewalk was fun, and while it was completely preposterous, I couldn't help but smile at Ian's "scientific" wrestling match.

My main complaint - and I'm not sure it's even a complaint, more a reservation - was how much this story sometimes felt like the politics-based plot of "Marco Polo" combined with "The Aztecs" and its interest in keeping history along the correct lines. I found myself wondering if David Whitaker turned it down partly based on that alone. Occasionally it felt so familiar I knew exactly what kind of plot twist was coming next, just based on having seen other Hartnell historicals! And I'm not saying Big Finish should have changed the story to be more "unique" or anything, it's just what kept it from being truly top-drawer stuff for me. It didn't have quite enough of its own identity.

"Fragile Yellow Arc" wasn't quite as successful for me because, frankly, it's Barbara's story, and it felt weird having it recounted by "Ian" and "Susan." I realize that was unavoidable, but the narration conceit didn't seem to work as well on this one. Still, I looked at the whole thing as sort of a freebie for buying "Farewell, Great Macedon," and I did enjoy it a good deal. Huge props to Farhi for simply trying something new and strange and interesting in a single-episode pitch. ( )
1 vote saroz | Apr 7, 2011 |
The stories feature the original TARDIS crew of the first Doctor, Susan, Ian, and Barbara, and given that two of those four actors have regrettably passed on, The First Doctor Box Set isn’t a full-cast dramatization as in the first series of Lost Series, but more of an "enhanced audiobook" like the Companion Chronicles. Nigel Robinson handles the adaptation. William Russell and Carole Ann Ford share the narration duties here, both narrating in the third person. They perform Ian and Susan, respectively, of course, and there’s also an attempt to maintain consistency in which other characters they narrate and speak dialogue for, especially with the TARDIS crew, where Russell usually does the Doctor’s lines, and Ford does Barbara’s. As in most Companion Chronicles, there's guest voices, too; John Dorney (perhaps better known as a Big Finish writer, though he acted in a couple eighth Doctor plays way back when) and Helen Goldwyn (a Big Finish stalwart) also have parts. The format is a little unusual at first-- there’s a lot of slipping between the two narrators right at the beginning-- but it works really well overall. It's a good compromise between doing a complete talking book and having to recast the original TARDIS crew with inferior performers.

There's a lot to love in The First Doctor Box Set, and foremost of them is that it gives us new adventures for the first TARDIS team, which remains one of the greatest to this day. The stories here press my nostalgia buttons just right, but still manage to do something new and different and exciting. The specifics of the third series of Lost Stories are as yet unannounced, but I really hope it includes more material for Carole Ann Ford and William Russell; I want to travel back to the 1960s again sometime soon.

You can read a longer version of this review at Unreality SF.
  Stevil2001 | Jan 17, 2011 |
Big Finish, faced with the difficulty of doing them for audio now that William Hartnell and Jacqueline Hill are unable to contribute, have gone for an extended Companion Chronicle type format, with William Russell and Carole Ann Ford reprising the characters of Ian and Susan, also taking on various other incidental characters, joined by John Dorney as Alexander the Great for the first story and by Dorney and Helen Goldwyn for the second. As I said on reading them, they are both very sad stories which would have been unlikely to make it to the screen i 1964; but they are excellent pieces, and though each of the seven episodes (six for Macedon and one for Fragrance) extends well beyond the usual 25 minutes, they are well worth it. In particular, I was able to form a much better idea of the characters in Alexander's entourage thanks to Russell and Ford's performance than I could from simply reading the script. Strongly recommended for First Doctor fans in particular but really for anyone; these are good stories in their own right. ( )
  nwhyte | Dec 17, 2010 |
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Moris Farhiprimary authorall editionscalculated
Robinson, NigelAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed

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