Mother Russia (2007)

Mother Russia is the opening story of Series 2 from Companion Chronicles. Following on from the success of the first series it was important that they Learn from the mistakes that were made in the first series. This story is written by Marc Platt who wrote Frostfire which opened up Series 1 was an interesting story but largely ordinary. Marc Platt is a very good writer but he does have a tendency of writing stories that are just a bit too complex and as a result I don’t enjoy them as much, he penned the story Ghostlight for Slyvester McCoy’s Doctor in 1989. He went on to write Spare Parts in 2002 which is a fantastic story.

Read by Peter Purves who played Steven Taylor from 1965-66 lends his voice very well to this story switching from the scenes with the Interrogator and the main action. Purves is a very good actor not just obviously from his time in Doctor Who but from his presenting skills on Blue Peter. Whilst he does well with telling the story his impression of the Doctor is not as good but then again in the CD Extras part at the end of the story he freely admits that there not that good. It is something that has been quite consistent with all these stories is that the companion are not brilliant at doing the voices of the Doctors but then again if they could they would be giving Rory Bremner a run for his money. What strikes me about this story is that it feels like a William Hartnell story in that it seems to take place over several weeks which is what happens in quite a lot of the early William Hartnell stories. I rather like that because it feels like the characters are getting to know each other and that can change how they react with each other and it gives a lot more freedom to the writer to change the focus of a story though it doesn’t happen here.

One of the things that I noticed in this story is that the characters have been portrayed in a slightly different way to how they were on TV. Dodo who was utterly annoying when she travelled with the Doctor mainly because of Jackie Lane and because she didn’t do anything of any worth during her time was treated in this story in a slightly more appealing way. The character of Steven also had its drawbacks on TV. I often thought he came across slightly patronising to Dodo (even though she deserved it!). In Mother Russia he became the outsider and also became the moral compass of the story and that was a nice change for the character and that credit should go to Marc Platt. Mother Russia is a cracking script from Platt and sets up the series very well. The thing that strikes me about this story is how it doesn’t drag which is quite different from Frostfire. The level of enthusiasm that Peter Purves puts into telling this story is what helps carry the story along. For someone like me who doesn’t tend to read books that much it helps that the person who is reading the story is enthusiastic and doesn’t have a boring voice.

Overall this was a thoroughly impressive story which was entertaining in all senses of the word. Marc Platt wrote a very good story in Frostfire but Mother Russia does better in this story. What stands out about this story compared to Frostfire is that Mother Russia feels like it could have been made for the William Hartnell era whereas Frostfire would have been difficult to make.

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