I found all four stories to be quite enjoyable overall. I think I liked "The Oncoming Storm" and "The Chartwell Metamorphosis" the best, but that isn't to say "Living History" and "Hounded" were subpar. I had never really considered the possibility of Kazran returning for more adventures with the Doctor, but now that I've heard it, I do hope he returns for full cast adventures when the Eleventh Doctor eventually gets the Big Finish treatment.
I wasn't in a particular rush to listen to this box set - I bought in more as a completionist thing. I finally listened to it this week and have been very pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed it - more so than the River Song box set! All the stories were good and I particularly enjoyed the dalek one.
I'm really glad to know there's going to be a second box set now and am looking forward to it.
I missed this one on release and waited for a sale, so this is BF history now, but I wanted to get my thoughts down before Vol 2 appears so here goes...
Three things I wondered about this release: 1. How would I like the unusual format? 2. How would the stories work with the focus on Churchill, and the Doctor as a more peripheral character? 3. How authentic would they be to the real-world Churchill and his times?
Well, the short answer is: I got used to the format, loved the set (the new series title music was a bonus!) and am greatly looking forward to Vol 2 this month. The longer answer (and it IS long, too long - sorry about that!) is:
The 'mixed' format surprised me by how well it worked - after a while. I struggled in 'The Oncoming Storm' because every time the Ninth Doctor 'appeared', the switch in "Churchill's" narrating accent to somewhere on 'a planet with a North' threw the pace of the story off for me, and it took a short while to recover. I preferred the approach used in the Tenth and Eleventh Doctor stories where changes in tempo and pattern, but not accent, were used - it seemed much more the way in which Churchill would have told the story - in his own distinctive voice.
And Ian McNeice is absolutely brilliant as that voice - a very specific 'Churchill' voice, which I'll come to later.
The amount that the Doctor 'appears' in a story didn't have any bearing on how much I enjoyed them, once I got used to the format. He's in 1 & 4 quite a lot, heavily in 2 and almost absent from 3, but the focus is on Churchill of course and his companions were all well played and the four stories all very successful imo.
1. The Oncoming Storm (picking up on 'The Gathering Storm', Vol 1 of Churchill's WWII memoirs): a very good story during Churchill's time at the Admiralty in 1939-40. I liked the idea of Time Lord technology turning up from the Time War and the Doctor not there to defeat the aliens, but to save them from the aftermath of his own people's war. And the idea that Churchill was prepared to try using the device, supremely confident that he could cope with it, was very well imagined.
2. Hounded: Superb, gripping story of the now Prime Minister's famous 'Black Dog' appearing to him for real, not as a metaphor. And of course it's much more complex than that. I liked the references back to Malakand (his first campaign as a very young Lancer) and the Holmesian nods were great fun. The high-energy Tenth Doctor is in this one a lot and for me it worked perfectly. My favourite of the set.
3. Living History: An exciting, almost Doctor-free story in Roman Britain. Churchill, Caesar, a queen of the Britons - and a Dalek! What's not to like? I very much enjoyed Caesar and Churchill in tactical discussions (though in truth, Caesar was the tactical genius), the typically ruthless Dalek plot and the way Churchill defeats it, and that the queen of the British tribe has what we now call a Welsh accent, as she presumably would have done. And I enjoyed hearing Danny Horn back as Kazran (though I know there are issues with how he might be separated from the very specific plot of 'A Christmas Carol'.) It seems perfectly reasonable to me that someone from an Earth colony (which I always assumed he was) would know of Julius Caesar and Churchill as key figures in the history of the colony's 'mother planet', even if other aspects were forgotten. And he made a very good companion for Churchill here.
4. The Chartwell Metamorphosis: a creepy 'horror story' of alien body takeovers in the gardens of Churchill's country estate. I hadn't a clue who Lily Arwell was (having never seen TD,TW&TW) but the older Lily was a fine companion for the older Winston. One thing that seemed curious to begin with was how Churchill was old enough to need assistance in walking at the start, but by the end he was charging about with a pitchfork levelled at alien invaders. Presumably some of the metamorphic energy did transfer to him after all.
Finally, the 'authenticity'. How 'real' were this Churchill and his world (leaving aside the fantastical 'Doctor Who' elements.) I've read a reasonable amount about the great man and his times and I thought the background authenticity was excellent, in the facts about his own life and also the times he lived in. Except once: little chance of finding 'a plate of chocolate eclairs' in a wartime cafe, when sugar was very strictly rationed and chocolate was unobtainable!
These stories can't show us the complexity of the real man of course, politician and statesman for over 60 years, but I think they do show us two aspects very well. Firstly, Churchill the Adventurous, who in his youth as an army officer travelled the Empire in search of battles to fight in and write about, who chose to serve on the Western Front for a period in one World War and who, as Prime Minister, wanted to cross to France with the Allied forces on D-Day itself in the next. (He was only stopped by the personal intervention of the King!) Such a man would be thrilled by meeting the Doctor and his amazing universe!
And secondly, the set is excellent at depicting Churchill the Writer, which he was for all his long adult life. What we've been hearing is Churchill reading us his (unpublished and sensational!) diaries of his meetings with the Doctor. So of course the Churchill we meet here is different from the real man - just as the Churchill we meet in his own published works is somewhat different. This is the considered, literary voice of Churchill we're hearing rather than the spontaneous day-to-day voice - and all four authors are excellent at tapping into the unmistakable style of his actual writings.
Winston Churchill wrote himself into history, literally as well as figuratively, and would no doubt be delighted to now find himself a hero of popular drama too!
Highly recommended to admirers of the Doctor and of Churchill; an excellent set of stories. (And thanks if you made it to the end of this overlong post )
Well to be honest I was not even going to venture into this spin off neither being tempted by Dimension Cannon or The Noble one,I did try Jenny which was ok but there it was in the Last Chance Cd at 9.99 each for both box sets so I snapped them up and got to say the first story was really excellent,yet again my preconceptions shot down in flames.But I won’t read any spoilers above and continue on during the week ahead with this and UNIT-Silenced and see what I think I really warmed to Emily Atacks-Hetty almost immediately
Onto the third story and am very much enjoying these tales how much ?Well I will definitely relisten to the first three tales one more to go and by the blurb I will save it for the evening when I get home from work
So Far I have really enjoyed these a few minor quibbles and am dying to read others views when I have finished.I enjoy the narration parts too but I have been dipping into short trips over the last year or so so I have become reaccostomed to it which probably helped and I actually do not mind the absence of the Doctors ...Kazran am trying to figure out his inclusion but so far they have been a higher than expected bunch of stories using the title character and the fact I got it cheap and the next volume...am overjoyed....once I get through these it’s a return to UNIT-Silenced but I was keen to see how this last tale pans out
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