I’ll be honest and say that I wasn’t sure what to expect from The Ninth Doctor Chronicles. On the one hand, there was no Christopher Eccleston or Billie Piper so it was basically a Companion Chronicles but for the new series. Nicholas Briggs steps up to do the narration and voice both the Doctor and Rose. Briggs has previous form in this having voiced the Destiny of the Doctor story Night of the Whisper. Lets get this out of the way and it might be a controversial opinion but I didn’t mind Briggs’ impression. I thought on the whole it worked and when the Doctor was suppose to be nice and jokey it was good but when the story called for a more serious Doctor then that is when the impression didn’t work. I cant actually recall too much of Briggs’ Rose impression so it clearly didn’t bother me enough.
Bruno Langley reprises his role of Adam that appeared in two episodes back in 2005 and its fair to say that the Adam in 2005 was very annoying and didn’t really serve much of a purpose towards the show and the news that he was to feature in this boxset was met with a raised eyebrow but I thought that his appearance in The Other Side was entertaining. It’s amazing what 12 years does to a character and despite taking place between Dalek and The Long Game, there is a noticeable difference for the character. Camille Coduri is the other big name from the 2005 series that stars in this boxset and I found the character of Jackie Tyler to be borderline annoying but in this I found her to be really good. I thought that there was potential for the character of Jackie to be better than she was allowed to be on screen and Coduri is allowed to be that good and she more than keeps up with Nicholas Briggs. I liked the slight digs that the Doctor and Jackie had at each other and it did remind me a lot of the 2005 series.
As far as the stories are concerned. The first was Bleeding Heart by Cavan Scott was an ok adventure but I think I spent most of the story trying to get use to the style of this boxset. It worked as a story but I don’t think it was necersarily the best of the four. The next was The Window on the Moor by Una McCormack and I liked this story a lot. I think if this release had been just these two stories then I would be writing that this boxset was a good release but then the next two stories slightly overshadow the first two. The Other Side by Scott Handcock wasn’t just a very good story because of Bruno Langley but because the story makes good use of the character of Adam in the story. Adam is there and is used to be central to the story and Bruno Langley rises to the challenge. The fourth and final story is in my opinion the best. Retail Therapy written by James Goss, brings Jackie Tyler into the fold and in this story she has become quite a business success but its clear that there is something not quite right and it doesn’t take long for the Doctor to work out what it is.
I know hindsight is a wonderful thing but with hindsight, it might have been to the benefit of the opening two stories to have either Bruno Langley and/or Camille Coduri in these stories. The quality of the stories was very good and the directing was also very good by Helen Goldwyn. I think that if there is a volume two (and hopefully there will be), then all that would need to be changed is to having a familiar character working alongside Nicholas Briggs. Having said that I think that The Ninth Doctor Chronicles is one of the most surprising releases of the year.