Review: Doctor Who: Big Finish Audio: CC 5.12: The Cold Equations

Big Finish Audio

Out now

The Doctor, Steven and Oliver lose the TARDIS when it is deemed to be too heavy for the ship on which they land…

The second of Simon Guerrier’s trilogy featuring Oliver Harper, a new companion for the First Doctor and Steven Taylor, feels far more like a standard audio play than the normal Companion Chronicle, thanks to Peter Purves’s impersonation of William Hartnell. It almost comes as a shock to hear Purves using reported speech for one of the other characters.

The Cold Equations uses what is fast becoming a cliché: start the story off with some key event from midway through, then crash into the titles before going back and explaining how the protagonists reached the point at which we joined them.  J.J. Abrams  used this notably at the start of Mission: Impossible III, and it’s turned up in virtually every North American drama this season at some point. It works if the replay of the scene in context gives the audience a completely fresh viewpoint on the dialogue or events; not so much as here, where it feels more like the snippets from an episode that you used to see at the front of an episode of Thunderbirds to entice the audience in.

That niggle aside, this is a strong story, which includes the revelation of Oliver’s secret – which works perfectly in the 1960s setting from which he comes. It’s a slight shame that a similar idea has appeared in the TV show in recent times, although Big Finish treat it with far more gravity.

Verdict: A good use of Steven Taylor in an enjoyable tale.  7/10

Paul Simpson

Read our review of the first part of this trilogy The Perpetual Bond, and its conclusion, The First Wave.


2 thoughts on “Review: Doctor Who: Big Finish Audio: CC 5.12: The Cold Equations

  1. To be fair, the device of including a “flashforward” from mid-episode in the teaser goes back to THE OUTER LIMITS in the ’60s. And back in the ’70s and ’80s, American TV shows would often begin with a “coming up next” montage showing scenes from the episode that was just about to start. The current trend of using flashforwards is just a more modern way of trying to catch the viewer’s interest so they won’t change the channel.

    Posted by christopherlbennett | November 5, 2011, 12:21 am
    • There’s a huge difference between “coming up next” montages and this almost monotonous use of the idea. As I said in the review I don’t mind in the least where when you get to the scene, you realise you’ve been completely wrong-footed, but sometimes it comes across as a way of saving 2 minutes of filming!

      Posted by PS | November 5, 2011, 9:37 am

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