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Audio Book Review


Doctor Who
The Companion Chronicles
Peri and the Piscon Paradox


Author: Nev Fountain
Read by: Nicola Bryant

Big Finish Productions
RRP: £12.99 (CD), £9.99 (download)

ISBN: 978 1 84435 505 1

Available 31 January 2011

The Fifth Doctor and Peri journey to Los Angeles 2009 to do battle with a Piscon. His name is Zarl, and he’s a fish of utmost evil. Zarl is going to steal all the water of Earth and sell it to the highest bidder... or blow up the San Andreas Fault... or the planet... or something like that. He’s a bit vague on that point. Fortunately, to stop him the Doctor and Peri receive help from an unexpected source: a future version of Peri. She knows Zarl’s dark secret. However, should the future Peri be on Earth at all? Something smells fishy - and it’s not just Zarl...

Peri and the Piscon Paradox is unusual for a Companion Chronicle, in more ways than one.

First of all, it spans two discs, the second such release to do so (following last year’s The Suffering). I’m all in favour of this practice, since stories of this duration are more representative of the television series that inspired them. However, that’s not the most unusual thing about this adventure. Indeed, the content of each disc can easily be regarded as a two-parter in its own right, rather than a single four-part story, for reasons that will become clearer in a moment.

It’s also slightly unusual in that it doesn’t feature any of the first four Doctors, for whom this series was originally devised, though Companion Chronicles featuring the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh or Eighth Doctor do pop up from time to time. What’s more unusual is that it features both the Fifth and Sixth Doctors. The two episodes on the first disc are very much a Fifth Doctor story, set immediately before The Caves of Androzani, while the second disc takes place some time after The Trial of a Time Lord. However, not even that is the most unusual thing about Peri and the Piscon Paradox.

No, what is most unusual about this release is that it actually features one of the actors who played the Doctor on television: Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor, who takes second billing after the narrator, Nicola (Peri) Bryant. Part of me wishes that the production team had gone the whole hog, hired Peter Davison as well, and made this a full-cast audio drama - but then I suppose it wouldn’t have qualified as a Companion Chronicle. Furthermore, we would have been denied Bryant’s vocal dexterity as two Peris (one from 1984 and one from 2009), the Fifth Doctor (a decent imitation of Davison’s style of delivery) and especially the drawling Beretta, a friend of the 2009 Peri. Bryant’s voice, or rather voices, dominate the proceedings, and so it’s entirely fitting that she is listed as the star.

This is a predominantly light-hearted tale, as one might expect from the pen of Nev Fountain, full of nods and winks to the production processes and continuity of 20th-century Who. For example, the Fifth Doctor mentions the Pescatons, the monsters from the very first commercially released Doctor Who audio adventure, while Peri tells us why she seldom wears sensible shoes during her travels in the TARDIS, and the Sixth Doctor explains why invading aliens so often resemble men in rubber suits. However, the second disc ingeniously reappraises the events of the first, and it’s not all fun and games: the story’s conclusion packs a real emotional punch.

Peri and the Piscon Paradox isn’t your typical Companion Chronicle, but in a way it’s the ultimate Companion Chronicle, delving into the thoughts and feelings of its chosen assistant more thoroughly than any previous release in the series.


Richard McGinlay

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