Friday 16 June 2017

The 1st Doctor, Ben and Polly: a rare treat

Yesterday, this appeared in my Big Finish account and it occurred to me that this is the first time in a long time I've bought something from them because it was special.

You see, this box set contains two stories featuring one of the rarest casts in Doctor Who: the First Doctor, Ben and Polly. This crew only appeared in three stories on TV, all of which dovetail into each other rather directly. As a consquence, amongst all the hundreds and hundreds of books, comics, audios and short stories retroactively slotted into Doctor Who continuity this is a very rare set of characters.

By my count there's a novel (Ten Little Aliens by Stephen Cole), a recent Short Trips audio, this box set and that's about it. This particular TARDIS crew might be more than half a century old but its nice that there's finally some new material for them.
Hell, its nice that Ben and Polly are getting new stories at all, as screwed over as they got by circumstance on TV. Of their entire run of stories only one (their first) exists in its entirety. Others have been reconstructed for DVD release but as good as some of the animations are they still represent something of a barrier to more casual fans getting to know them. Plus, the fact that Jamie turned up and became the iconic Second Doctor companion whilst making Ben sort of redundant as the action man companion hardly helps them, either.

Also, their departure is absolutely crap, one of the worst handled in the entire classic series.

And The War Machines, that one surviving story with Ben, Polly and the First Doctor? It paints such a vivid picture of their dynamic that I've always wanted to see more of it. Unfortunately, The Smugglers never left much impression on me (most of the missing stories I've only experienced in audio left me like that, I should really track down the Loose Cannon reconstruction) and The Tenth Planet sadly has to have Ben fill in for the Doctor to the detriment of the Ben's character, in my view.

So you can understand why I've always craved more of this tantalisingly brief and under-documented cast.

I really should dig up my copy of Ten Little Aliens, I never did get around to reading it. 

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