Friday, 7 January 2011

Helicon Prime written by Jake Elliot and directed by Nigel Fairs

What’s it about: It's been a long time since Jamie McCrimmon remembered anything about his travels with the Doctor, but his visit to Helicon Prime just won't stay hidden... but why remember their murder investigation now?

Who’s the Yahoos: The introductory scene suggests that this is going to be a revelatory story about Jamie getting his memory back and remembering the Doctor and his travels in the TARDIS but it just sort of…fizzles out. Jamie thinks the Doctor is having him on half the time. He’s annoyed because he thinks they should be off battling Daleks or chasing Yetis instead of having fun! Jamie keeps fussing about this whilst the Doctor is having a whale of a time! Not for the first time Jamie found himself creeping cautiously into unknown danger at the Doctor’s suggestion. It was the excitement, the chance to live on his wits and his sense of loyalty.

Oh My Giddy Aunt: Hines’ Troughton impression is so good it really is a missed opportunity that the plot for Helicon Prime is so dull. Like Peter Purves in Mother Russia you can tell that Hines has enjoyed spending plenty of time with Troughton and has really taken on his mannerisms and quirks. He reduces his voice to a soft growl and coughs politely as he talks and exclaims at all the right places. Mindy Voyeur is one of his favourite singers and he asks for a sonic signature. He makes shrewd observations whilst you think he is being frivolous. I love his reaction to Mindy being in danger, entirely forgetting that Jamie is too! He is genuinely frightened when Jamie has a plan. The more you try and make sense of the Doctor the less he does! Bother, he’s never been able to eat an Aspherdill! The Doctor even keeps Jamie in the dark of his plans.

Great Ideas: Helicon Prime is the most exclusive holiday destination in the universe. Petriforms are crystalline, not glass and they get rather perturbed by being described as such but it doesn’t complain too much because it explodes! With the full effect of the golden section streaming through the window the Ambassador is sitting there in conference with some of the most influential and powerful people in the galaxy. Fennus was for a while one of the most successful frontier colonies but the planet proved unstable and all the colonists were presumed perished. Aspherdills are intoxicatingly pleasant; it requires infinite patience to keep them long enough in your perception to eat them!

Audio Landscape: lightning crackles in the first scene, the Doctor fiddles with the console and we hear the Troughton scanner, tooting on the recorder, the Petriform cracks and shatters, screams and agitated chatter, crackling fire, whispering voices…

Music: There is tacky muzak in the restaurant. The isolated musical score is far more atmospheric detached from the story.

Result: Terribly boring, one thing I have noticed about the companion chronicles is that they fall into two categories, exceptionally good or terribly dull. Helicon Prime presents some very boring manufactured dangers, a forgettable cliffhanger, a crawling pace and an unmemorable villain whose plan fails to excite. Its such a pity because Hines has not lost his touch as Jamie and he pulls off a touchingly authentic second Doctor. With such a bland script in place not even the production values feel very special and the whole piece is easily skipped. You’ll learn nothing about the characters nor be gripped by the plot: 4/10

Buy it from Big Finish here:

1 comment:

dark said...

Wow, this one surprised me too, sinse I've come to love Hines as Jamy, particularly for his spot on second doctor and his friendship (and rivelry), with my all time favourite old sixy.
Like Fear of the Daleks though this one really doesn't serve as an introduction. I really enjoy alien settings usually, but this one just didn't feel alien enough despite the insubstantial flowers and christal aliens snacking on light.

The only bit that got me excited was Jamy's description of the golden section in space, and that's just because it was a lovely image, the rest of the plot barely registered as you said.

Btw, why in the name of fetted photon didn't they have Mindy played by an actress who could sing! Really, her squeakings would embarrass a pub karaoke! finest voice in the universe?

I'm actually finding the early series of the companion chronicles far more miss than hit at the moemnt, which is a shame, though fortunately there are still a couple of stories like Mother Russia to remind me how good this series gets, indeed I can't wait until they hit their stride and I get back to tales like Home truths or the jigsaw war.