Short Trips – Volume II (2011)

After enjoying the first volume, I was looking forward to volume two. There are some familiar authors in this one as well as new contributors. James Moran (Torchwood and Fires of Pompeii) as well as Simon Guerrier (Perpetual Bond and Home Truths). This is a nicer mix than just having a entire release of new writers or vice versa.

1963 by Niall Boyce and Read by William Russell

The opening story is for the first Doctor read by William Russell who has a wonderful reading voice. The story opens with a very dark scene which involved Barbara. It seems quite grown up from that time on TV. The Doctor takes Vicki, Ian and Barbara to Earth on November 23 1963 which was the very day that Doctor Who started with An Unearthly Child. The people on Earth are frozen and the explanation is quite a silly one. The TARDIS was at fault because it’s heartbeat was out of sync. Nope, sorry I don’t buy it. It was a good setup which was wasted . What I did like was how Barbara was suppose to visit a relative who she was meant to meet at a bar before being swept away in the TARDIS. It was quite a sad thought that someone Barbara was close to would never get to see her probably forever. There was a nice symmetry at the end in mentioning the body in the alley which opened this story.

1963 sadly isnt as good a story as it should be. There didn’t seem a point to it and as a result. I was disappointed with this opening story.

The Way Forward by Steve Case and Read by David Troughton

The second Doctor story is about a young man called Sherman who has a theory about time travel and uses it at a science fair who is basically a smart kid but is overlooked. The story doesn’t rush in getting the Doctor involved. The story is how due to the Doctor’s involvement, a paradox is created by Sherman and we get a peculiar setting where things are changing rapidly. The story concludes with multiple Shermans in various stages of raginess and age and within seconds of the Doctor and Victoria arriving, they decide to put right what Sherman has done and that’s the end of the story.

I quite liked this story, it shows that sometime the Doctor makes a poor decision and that those decisions have consequences. The Sherman character is likeable despite what he has done because there was no malice or plans or world domination. Just some decent kid who got involved in something that was way beyond him. The Way Forward was a better story that the one we got in volume one. There was a sense of drama about the whole thing and David Troughton like William Russell has a nice reading voice and does a good job.

Walls of Confinement by Lawrence Conquest and Read by Katy Manning

The Doctor get a day off in the third story. It’s quite hard to believe the Doctor would take a day off but anyway he decides to go to a circus/funfair where his enjoyment is short lived by a boy who is a bit too close to a tiger. What is quite a clever plot point is that the little boy pickpocketed the Doctor’s dematerilisation circuit and the boy used it to go from cage to cage. The boy is revealed to be the Brigadiers godson.

The reason why the brigadier asked the Doctor to babysit was to show him there was more to Earth than UNIT and alien invasions. It’s a nice if slightly out of character thing for the Brigadier to do. It’s a nice ‘theres more to life’ moral message that is weaved in well to a short story. There is also a message about the treatment of animals at Circuses and also animals in captivity.

This was another good story which was brilliantly read by Katy Manning and the story grabbed my attention at the very beginning and kept it all the way through.

Chain Reaction by Darren Goldsmith and Read by Louise Jameson

The fourth Doctor story is about a chain reaction of events which isnt normal Doctor Who territory but has potential in a short story format. I have to say that this story is confusing and also rather dull. I have listened to it three times and each time I found it difficult to follow. This is partly due to Louise Jameson who doesn’t give a particularly good performance which is unusual for her.

The thing about this story is that it suffers the same problems as 1963 in that I just don’t understand why it was produced. There’s nothing that I found gripping about this story. Just behind 1963 in terms of enjoyment. I’m surprised really because the volume one story for the fourth Doctor was one of my favourites.

Sock Pig by Sharon Cobb & Ian Keller and Read by Peter Davison

The next story is one that has toys coming life which reminds me of Toy Story but also like Terror of the Autons where the troll came like a kills Farrely Senior. We are introduced to a single woman who has a meddlesome mother. Due to a tear in time by the Anama ‘race’, the Doctor arrives to try and sort it out. It’s quite funny how she loves the sock pig, overlooking the fact the inanimate object is now moving. There is a wonderfully sad moment where the Doctor and the woman are standing in the bathroom with the Doctor holding the sock pig.

It’s a story which I don’t understand the point of but still found it enjoyable to listen to. Peter Davison does well in giving a different type of performance from what he would normally give in a full cast story. hen it ended I found myself liking Sock Pig and feeling sad at times. Credit to the writers for giving a story that works in the way that it does.

The Doctor’s Coat by John Bromley and Read by Colin Baker

The next story sees the Doctor stopping somewhere really hot when his coat is stolen. The Doctor deals with a suntiler who has a Geordie accent which whilst not being important I found bizarre. The coat has been taken by a young suntiler who though that because the Doctor had taken his coat off which is similar to what they do this this was ok to take. This is one of the shortest stories but it manages to find time to fit in a part about how a coat is just a coat and how he went through a lot to get that coat because just like a companion, it’ll become history eventually.

This is another cracking story brilliantly read by Colin Baker. I thought that this was better than the volume one story and its good that we had two Doctors reading the last two stories because it makes it seem one up from a companion chronicle.

Critical Mass by James Moran and Read by Sophie Aldred

The penultimate story is written by the Same man who has written for Torchwood and new Doctor Who so I had high expectations for this adventure. The Doctor and Ace arrive at a base which is about to detonate a bomb which is basically melts humans. However its gone wrong and it is Ace who comes in and saves the day.

I really liked this story and was happy that my expectations were met. It has a feeling of ‘The Curse of Fenric’ when they arrive at a base pretending to be an important figure which I quite enjoyed and I also enjoyed the feel of the story. It was a snappily paced story that actually felt like it could be a TV Doctor Who story which given the writer isnt a complete surprise. Sophie Aldred also does a good job reading the story and gives a enthusiastic performance.

Another good story and that makes five good stories and two not so goo.

Letting Go by Simon Guerrier and Read by India Fisher

The final story is voiced by India Fisher who is now more recognisable as the voice of Masterchef (the BBC cookery show). This is another story I had high hopes for because it is by the author of Home Truths and The Guardian of the Solar System. The story is set shortly after Charley has joined the TARDIS but she is telling the story after joining the Sixth Doctor. It sees the Doctor and Charley go and see the family of someone called Stan who has died. Charley has a message for them and that was from Stan who said that he was wrong.

It’s not the best story but I do like it because its about tieing up loose ends and meeting the families of those that have died and become close to Charley. The story does take a while to get into its stride but once it does then it becomes a nice story. India Fisher puts on a lovely performance and seems to enjoy talking about something other than steak with stupid names given by people who are better cooks than me. Once I got past the Masterchef thing I was able to enjoy this story and it’s a nice end to the second volume.

Volume Two was overall an enjoyable release but it’s the two weak stories that let it down. All the stories that I liked were one that could be padded out and made into either a Big Finish full case audio or even a new series Doctor Who. The directing was done by Nicholas Briggs and Ken Bentley and I don’t know who did what but both must have had their fair share of the good stories.It’s going to be May before we get Volume Three but I am looking forward to more short stories.

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