I’ve dipped in and out of Big Finish and this was my first taste of the Companion Chronicles, self sustained adventures featuring past companions in their own stories. Some are solo plays, others have one or more characters and based on the strength of this one I will be back for more.
Set during the second Doctor’s era, the Jigsaw War stars Jamie McCrimmon who appeared alongside Patrick Troughton’s Doctor for almost his entire run.
We begin with Jamie as a prisoner, sent on a mission by the Doctor for a larger adventure. Routine you might think, but Jamie begins experiencing events out of sequence as he flits through time.
One minute he is a prisoner, the next he is an interrogator who shoots his prisoner dead. We then learn Jamie’s fate lies in his own hands as he must put the correct events in order or be lost forever. This is achieved when an alien entity contacts the Doctor and lays it on the line for him. In the face of an alien invasion, has the Doctor picked the wrong side for once and left his companion to die?
Without spoiling anything, Jamie is smarter than he looks and the ending might just surprise you.
Frazer Hines who played Jamie, not only in the second Doctor’s era but returned in both the Five and Two Doctors, is on top form. I met him in the eighties at a convention in Liverpool and his love for both the show and Patrick Troughton shone through, something that has never left him.
And it’s here that I genuinely got chills, not only from the original theme music, but from when Frazer plays the second Doctor. He has it spot on and for a moment you believe Patrick is also there joining in the drama. Patrick’s son in real life, David played a possible second Doctor in Tom Baker’s recent audio series by Paul Magrs but here the second Doctor is well and truly back. This also opens up the intriguing argument that other actors could potentially play deceased Doctors and on the basis of this, on audio this would be very welcome.
The story is taut, engaging and clever and you leave it satisfied that the Doctor and Jamie will prevail once again. There are intriguing themes here such as the entire relationship between the Highlander, who is thrust into this almost magical world with all its technology, and the Time Lord, who almost breathes the universe. Onscreen Jamie trusted the Doctor implicitly but was never afraid to challenge him when he thought the Doctor was wrong, and it is that trust that is tested here. It has been done with other companions such as Ace and Amy, but there is something special here as Jamie must overcome the alien manipulation and trust his heart.
Had it not been for he Time Lords exiling the Doctor to Earth and returning a memory wiped Jamie back to Scotland, Jamie may very well be still travelling in the Tardis. Indeed he has teamed up with the sixth Doctor both on screen and the Big Finish range and it worked perfectly. Never judge a book by its cover as the aliens do. Jamie may be primitive, but he’s smart and can stand alone, and his time in the Tardis has made him grow in leaps and spades thanks to his best friend, the Doctor.
Also included is an audio extra in the form of an interview with Frazer who clearly relishes these audio plays and it’s nice to hear their thoughts on the story and their time on the show.
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