Resistance (2009)

The extended third series of The Companion Chronicles finally sees Polly get a chance at telling an adventure she had with the Doctor. I listened to this story after listening to Anneke Wills narrate the Target Novelisation Doctor Who and the Cybermen and apart from the story it was Wills’ voice that made the release special for me. When Polly appeared in Doctor Who between June 1966 and May 1967 she was a good companion that seemed to work very well in the world of Doctor Who. When she left it was very sad but it was the fact that in the Faceless Ones she didn’t really have a proper send-off. I am quite surprised that it has taken all this time to bring Polly back to the Doctor Who world. The return of Polly was one that I looked forward too because I think that she is a companion that would do well in new Who. Even though when she originally appeared in The War Machines that she was a girl of the swinging 60’s she still would be able to work with the new style stories.

The story is set in February 1944 during the Second World War. This isn’t a setting that has really been used in Doctor Who for the simple reason that it was a terrible time in history that resulted in the death of millions and it can be quite easy to try and make light of it. This story sees Polly telling her story and then someone else would be telling their story. It’s quite an strange way of telling as story though it happened in The Prisoner’s Dilemma where Ace would have her scene and then Zara would have hers. It got me quite frustrated listening to it as the story was progressing as it hadn’t happened before. This time it wasn’t so bad and was expected. The thing that amazes me in this story as well as all other Companion Chronicles is how the writer manages to get the story feeling like that particular period in Doctor Who and also getting the relationship of the companions and Doctor right. This story manages to offer something new to the character of Polly and give a back story that has only really been happening to characters since Doctor Who came back in 2005. With Polly we learn that she had an uncle who died in a Prisoner of War. There begins the classic Doctor Who point of wanting to change history but being unable too. In this story it was unsure as to whether Polly would try and alter history or leave it be. Then we discover than this person we were led to believe is her uncle is in fact not and just someone impersonating him which was a nice twist.

The story itself is a nice one which doesn’t have an alien monster or someone trying to take over an alien planet but was perhaps the most personal of all stories. It makes a refreshing change when this is the case though it is not a practise I would like to see made permanently but in this case I am glad there were no monsters. We learn a lot about Polly in this single story than we ever did when she was on TV. We learn that her Uncle was a Prisoner of War and actually died there. When she encounters who she believes to be her uncle we are then pressed into the trying to change history story strand. Its something that has been debating and talked about since Doctor Who began and that is if you met someone from your past or your families past would you do something to change their future which would ultimately change your future or would you leave things as they stand. During this time we see a different side of Polly which is where she doesn’t feel like she needs the Doctor and she doesn’t need Ben or Jamie and knows better than they do. Once the Doctor, Polly, Jamie & Ben get back together you think that it is the end of their adventure and they leave with the moral message of leaving History alone but then there is another twist to the story and it the revelation that the person we think of as Polly’s Uncle is in fact not her Uncle and really someone who is pretending to be him. It’s a sad revelation as you feel the disappointment of Polly. Especially after she deserts the Doctor at the train station. The pace of the story is a slow burning one but by part two is moving at a quick enough pace to keep the listener entertained which is the way it should be in this particular story. As long as there is enough to keep the listener entertained then the pace can start as slow as it likes before speeding up.

Steve Lyons has written several Big Finish stories over the last few years. Since 2000 he has written The Fires of Vulcan (2000), Colditz (2001), Gallifrey: Insurgency (2005) the very good Blood of the Daleks (2007) and the 2007 Toms Tardis Story of the Year Son of the Dragon. So he has a track record of writing very good stories and with Resistance he keeps that trend going. Lisa Bowerman deserve credit for directing a story that uses Anneke Wills’ voice to keep the listener interested but soon allowing the story to take centre stage. Anneke Wills seems to be enjoying herself reading this story and whilst she manages to capture an essence of the Second Doctor it is Ben that she does best. The bond that the two characters have was always evident on TV but in the beginning of the story it is bought back to our attention. John Sackville is also very good in this story as the Pilot. He does well in making sure that the listener believes that the Pilot is in fact Polly’s Uncle right up until the end.

Overall this is a very good story. I wish/hope they would do more Polly stories as I think Anneke Wills has a very good voice for audio and she has shown in the Target Audios and her several appearances as Charley’s Mother that she has a nice warm voice which you would listen to even if she were reading the phonebook.

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