Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles - The Jigsaw War
Jamie's at sixes and sevens (and threes and fours, and ones and twos) when he finds himself a prisoner...
Writer: Eddie Robson
Starring: Frazer Hines, Dominic Mafham
The Companion Chronicles move further away from their roots as narrated stories with The Jigsaw War, a wannabe head-scratcher by Eddie Robson. In truth, this is a short tale (the length of a single new Who episode) which seeks to make itself memorable by virtue of ten scenes playing out in non-chronological order. Second Doctor companion, Jamie (Frazer Hines), is in a prison cell (sometimes as prisoner, sometimes as interrogator) and experiences these self-confessed 'episodes' in the wrong order. Luckily for us, we get 'his' take on them in the correct order, otherwise this would be truly baffling. (Please don't get any more ideas, Moffat).
As it is, it's not the most engaging audio in the world. Jamie has to work out how to escape from the locked cell and defeat the aliens on the other side. His opponent, an officer named Moran (Dominic Mafham, sounding suspiciously like Julian Clary at times), is sometimes possessed by a baddie named Side (strange name, strange plot). As the headstrong Scottish lad gets his (uncharacteristically clever) head around the puzzle, he realises that he hasn't so much got to solve it, as to...um...not be a prisoner of his own fate. I think. The conclusion, in broad terms, reminded me of that brilliant bit in The Mind Robber when the Doctor suddenly stops himself from typing into the story machine and they escape — because then they will become part of the story itself. The Jigsaw War is a bit like that, only not as good or exciting.
What is good and exciting is Frazer Hines' impersonation of Patrick Troughton. Yes, by gum, it's pretty brilliant. I'm ashamed to say this is the first time I've heard him do it, and for a few brief, glorious moments, I felt chills go up my spine. It was like the old man was suddenly there, speaking lines he'd never said on TV. Amazing stuff. Frazer's gift for mimicry is crying out to be used on a proper full-length Troughton-narrated CD — unless it's been done already? (I'm a bit out of the loop when it comes to these things.) It's certainly much better than the Scottish accent he adopts for Jamie, which often sounds slightly odd. Wrong region perhaps? Certainly wrong register — Frazer's voice is much deeper than it was forty years ago, which makes his Jamie now less authentic than his Second Doctor, paradoxically.
With such a slight storyline as this (£8 seems a lot to fork out for a 45 minute duologue), there isn't really a lot else to say. The music is mercifully subdued and the sound effects serve the story well. You can listen to the tracks in the 'right' order — Jamie works out what they are during the course of the adventure — but that seems about as pointless as doing the same for Memento. There's a brief chat at the end, which is less self-congratulatory than most, and gives us a welcome chance to hear Frazer do Troughton again. Though not in a sexual sense. That would be wrong.
Listen to the trailer here:
Doctor Who: The Jigsaw War is out now.
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