If you’re after some mindless “on the beach” listening, then this month’s main releases from Big Finish won’t fit the bill – both this and the main range story, Protect and Survive, demand concentration from the listener. They’re also both very much aimed at fans of the show rather than the casual purchaser. There’s also an unfortunate coincidence of plot point that I’m a little surprised wasn’t spotted earlier.
James Goss’ The Time Museum is a two-hander drama, a format that is increasingly being used in The Companion Chronicles rather than simple narrator-driven storytelling with an extra actor. It works really well for this tale, given William Russell’s ability to drop into a Hartnell impersonation, and Philip Pope’s gifts for adopting different voices. The story is all about identity and confusion, and whereas sometimes too much resemblance between the voices can be off-putting, on this occasion it’s deliberately sought, with director Lisa Bowerman ensuring that all the clues are there for the astute listener.
Through the course of the story Russell recounts tales from the televised adventures, the spin-offs, and even the David Whitaker original novelisation (which of course he read for AudioGo a few years back). There will no doubt be a spirited debate as to where this fits into continuity – for my money, I regard it as similar to Lance Parkin’s The Infinity Doctors novel from 1998, a sidestep that celebrates all that’s good without being bound by continuity issues. A question in the CD extras hints that this was potentially being kept for the 50th anniversary release in 2013; it certainly would have been most fitting had that been the case.
Verdict: Mind-bending and different, this will be a release that you’ll either love or hate. And don’t stop listening at the end titles… 7/10