Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles - Binary
More Liz Shaw. Hey, that rhymes.
Writer: Eddie Robson
Starring: Caroline John, Joe Coen, Kyle Redmond-Jones
Poor old Liz Shaw. Along with Janet Dale, she is one of the Doctor's almost forgotten companions (What do you mean, you don't remember Janet Dale?!). After only one series and an off-screen departure that was frankly a slap in the face for the character, it seems only right that Liz should live again thanks to the lovely folk at Big Finish.
One of the (many) strengths of the Big Finish range is that they seem to be able to effortlessly recreate the feel of the eras they are set in and Binary is no different. From the very start we are without a doubt in Jon Pertwee's first series as the Doctor, comfortable and familiar with hindsight, but alien, strange and experimental as the show must have been to viewers at the time as they watched the new Doctor and production team find their feet.
Caroline John brings an air of poignancy to Liz, a companion enthralled by space who never got the chance to leave Earth (until we find out almost four decades later that she now lives on the moon or something, Ace has set up a global charity and Dodo farts coins). Yearning for a return to a quiet academic life in Cambridge and yet being dragged in to investigate extraterrestrial annoyances like a reluctant female Quatermass.
The story itself is an enjoyable, if slight one. A malfunctioning alien computer has been found and so far all of the scientists called in to examine it have vanished. Enter Liz and two massively telegraphed (which adds to the fun), they're-definitely-not-what-they-seem UNIT soldiers to investigate. Cue shenanigans involving being captured, miniaturised and indulging in a decent amount of corridor running. Johns carries the action effortlessly which only adds to the "what if?" element of her being able to develop the character over a longer period on television. She also seems to be having a ball whenever she has to convey the pomposity of an off-screen Doctor relaying messages to her from outside her prison.
Binary is by no means an "event" Big Finish release, but it is definitely a very enjoyable way to spend an hour or so in the welcome company of the wonderful Miss Shaw. Hopefully it won't be too long before we catch up with her again. (Maybe in an exciting moonbase adventure with Dodo and her moneybum™?)
Click here for the trailer, muthafunster!
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