Okay... A promise of a thoroughly alien society and Edo period (or maybe Meiji depending on what the lords have planned...) Japan with One, Ian, Barbara and Susan. You got me. This is 100% my thing. I'll swing by the site and grab a copy as soon as its out.
Took me all day to get through the first story with the odd chores going on (and I even somehow missed what the motivation was for the trying out of the new discovery, and will have to listen again sometime soon to really get everything in proper perspective) but it was definitely a Dorney good story and a very absorbing adventure.
Very pleasantly surprised how much more easily I took to the cast this time - David Bradley continues to give us an excellent and distinctive First Doctor, Jemma's portray of Barbara seems more assured and effortless than ever and I am delighted, and I think Claudia's grown leaps and bounds here into capturing the tone of Susan's personality as I'm accustomed to thinking of Susan. I'm not sure Jamie did anything different from the first set, lol - but that's quite okay as I already seem to be getting more used to him as Ian. Wonderful example that the cast don't have to be impersonators to do a super job of something like this, in my opinion.
I think I'll tune in this same time tomorrow for another exciting adventure. I really am thrilled for there to be a First Doctor historical set in Japan, really looking forward to that.
Quite surprised to see folks having mixed feelings about the Susan performance! It's definitely a little cartoon-ish, but I love that. I was thinking this morning i'd actually enjoy a Susan spin-off with this actor!
Really enjoying this range, i'm hoping they bring their Master back soon!
Finished Invention of Death, a truly alien society that was worse off after the TARDIS crew visited. I thought the Ashtallans were dying because of something the TARDIS crew had brought unknowingly, or something that was harmless to the TARDIS crew but no the Ashtallans (I was thinking of The Martian Chronicles where the martians were wiped out by chicken pox). For some reason I was picturing them as gelatinous Mr Meeseeks from Rick and Morty. No idea how this would have been done on TV, maybe we'd have gotten a population of Slythers. From a timeline note, it's after Reign of Terror and leads straight into Barbarians and the Samurai (looking forward to this one).
I struggled with 'Susan' last time around, but became accustomed as that first box set went on. Unfortunately, after a gap in listening, I find that with this set I am having to acclimatise myself all over again. TBH, I am just not enjoying her performance.
I was also bumped a bit on David Bradley this time too - I found his performance a bit too 'mannered' for my taste. Not bad, just noticeable and not totally to my taste.
That said, I am really looking forward to the Samurai story
Well, I think this is excellent. Mid-way through part two, I thought this was going to be a laborious ‘let’s try to understand a kooky alien society very slowly’, which was so beloved a concept in the 1960’s (which is at least true to the original era). But it turned out to be a lot more than that, and I found the finale genuinely moving. The alien's 'detached love' for the child is beautifully played ("I should not like it to cease to exist.").
My only real gripe - and I hate to say this - is with the playing of Barbara. She is portrayed as a slightly tipsy, high-society, emotional void, which might be fair enough, but the performance is so bad. Even simple lines like “I’m not sure that would be a good thing,” are played awkwardly, with clipped syllables smothering any sign of character. She drains any scene she is in, I'm sorry to say. Susan is rather better – nothing like Carol Anne-Ford’s original of course, more a squeaky 'it' girl, but at least likeable and a characterful performance. Ian is consistently good - clipped and rational.
David Bradley has grown on me hugely. He has his own take on The First Doctor, which is a very convincing, scatty, imperious old fellow - not played particularly like Hartnell, although the dialogue is true, but a fully rounded and appealing character. I like the way this appears to segue into the next story too. Thumbs-up from me.
Second time listening to The Invention of Death. I have to say, I think The First Doctor Adventures Volume 02 definitely blows the first set out of the water. Like that set, Volume 02 is very true to the era, but I think this set has more great scenes between the Doctor, Ian, Barbara, and Susan, especially in The Invention of Death. The cast also seems more settled into their roles than in the previous set. If I'm being honest, I think I'll always prefer Peter Purves and William Russell's interpretations of the First Doctor to Bradley's, but Bradley does the role justice here and it was easy to imagine William Hartnell saying the lines. I never really minded Jamie Glover - sure, he doesn't sound much like Russell, but like Bradley he really does capture the spirit of the role. I also really appreciated Claudia Grant a lot more in this set than in the first. Jemma Powell, at the moment, may be the weak link in the set, which is kind of the opposite of how I felt in the first set if I recall correctly. She's doing a lot better than I thought she did in The Age of Endurance, but she's still giving this almost detached deliverance of her lines at times that I'm not sure is in the spirit of the character. All the same, I think she's still getting better with each performance, and the positives in her performance outweigh the negative for me.
At the moment, I think my favorite of the set is The Invention of Death for how well it writes its characters and how absolutely fascinating the setting is, but it's really hard to say, since I also really enjoyed The Barbarians and the Samurai. I'll see if my opinion changes after I finish my second listen of that story.
Regardless of of the ambiguous canonicity, I think there's a clever thing in Invention of Death that links into things later said about Ian and Barbara. The Doctor suggests that by receiving Ashtallahn flesh Barbara might be immortal or not age, and Ian later receives the same treatment. In the Sarah Jane Adventures story Death of the Doctor, Sarah Jane speaks of other companions, including Ian and Barbara, where rumour is they haven't aged a day. By the end of the story any Ashtallahn influence isn't purged from their systems, so perhaps we've got an explanation for this rumour, even if an older Ian did show up in The Five Companions.
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