Sunday, 5 November 2017

30 Discs Hath November #5: Helmstone

Doctor Who: Short Trips

written by Tony Jones

I love the Short Trips range. Okay, they vary hugely in quality and interest but they're the only range Big Finish does that is able to run the whole gamut of Doctor Who's history (hell, there's a pair of Meta-Crisis Doctor stories coming in the monthly range later this year) but also because the free ones like this are the only Big Finish thing that comes to me as a complete surprise. As a paid product I subscibe to, obviously, I know something about what I'm getting.

There's also the fact that, being free, these subscriber bonuses can do quieter things with their plots because you're not being asked to pay up front for a high concept.

This one's a First Doctor and Steven story aka prepare for horrible things to happen because Season Three. The TARDIS has appeared on and promptly been rendered inert on a generation ship called Not Home that's on its way to the planet New Home which actually does sound like something the 1960s writers would come up with. The Doctor and Steven are hanging out on the beach with a local woman called Cora as they wait for the TARDIS to recharge. Cora is the owner of a piece of jewelry called a helmstone. Cora and her helmstone are summoned to the big city for a ritual and the Doctor and Steven tag along.

It all goes about as you'd expect given the presence of the generation ship, the name helmstone and the fact that we're in Season Three Tragedy Town.

Its mainly a Steven story (again, very true to the era) but one in which the Doctor still gets to be right about everything. At this point in the series Steven was used to do a lot of the heavy lifting whilst William Hartnell spent a lot of time ill and written off to the side and it would be nice if now and again one of these stories portrayed Steven as being in the right. Okay, there's a moral quandary at the heart of his actions but the moment you know what the question is you know what answer the author is going to settle on.

Given how he was briefly co-leading man of the series I wish Steven had more chance to shine in the role. It made sense in the day whenever Hartnell was back on form to sweep in with the answer but there's more freedom here to have a Steven story be more about Steven and driven exclusively by his actions. 

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