Reviewed By: JMChurch25
Review Date: 3/1/19 9:03 pm
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"Home Truths" is a Companion Chronicle that's ranked very highly among Whovians and reviewers as one of those that you just have to listen to with multiple rankings of the highest order associated with it. However, I stayed away from it initially because I wasn't as familiar with its subject matter and it's main focus Sara Kingdom. However, after catching myself up on information from 'Dalek Masterplan' and remembering some of the details from the "Fourth Doctor Adventures" Series 8, I finally broke down and allowed myself to sink deeply into this story.
When a young man finds shelter with an old woman on a stormy night, a dark tale is told of the Doctor, Steven, and Sara early in their travels together investigating an old and mysterious manor house. What they find there over the course of the narrative turns into a grim murder mystery with a surprising culprit and a powerful meaning behind it. It's one of the most atmospheric Big Finish stories ever created akin to the haunted house in "Master". The soundscape is spectacular with rain dripping in the background, ghostly noises, and a minimal but very appropriate soundtrack that's really stunning. It's psychological sci-fi premise also leads some to great ideas that really make you think. Given what's eventually discovered behind what's going on, it makes you wonder if you would behave or have behaved similarly to any of the players in this situation and the way it draws everything together is truly a marvel.
Simon Guerrier's script also goes deep into Sara Kingdom as a character who is one of those companions with so much more untapped potential behind her. With only one major TV appearance back in the '60s behind her and a few audio stories, it's really nice to be able to get to know her better in a way that makes her feel like a fully-fledged part of the team. You don't necessarily need to have known who she is or any of the details of 'Masterplan' to get what's going on. But it certainly does help as we get to take a listen to Sara's hopes, fears, what she thinks of the situation and her traveling companions, and particularly her mindset which greatly affects how the story plays out. Being a Companion Chronicle, we have a smaller cast of only two but the main actor of Jean Marsh as narrator and as Sara herself is a joy. She has one of those voices that you never get tired of listening to especially as the story gives her a reason for sounding older than she is in the story and it's perfectly suited to telling this kind of darker narrative. Niall MacGregor as the character of Robert is fine and perfect for what he needs to be in this tale but really this is Jean's / Sara's story all the way through which is what it certainly should be.
With all of that in mind, the flaws with it are very minimal. The sound design fluctuates greatly at times with not as much consistency as there should be in volume and structure and the open-ended conclusion (while I personally love it as it leaves you with your own thoughts and decision per the question it asks) might leave some people a little cold. But this story leads directly into two others that do follow up directly with what's set up here so people who really do have a problem with it are more than recommended to seek out the further two stories. As for me, I'm perfectly happy with where things were left and finished the audio chilled but with a big smile on my face.
Does "Home Truths" deserve all the praise it gets? Absolutely. This is another one where upon finishing it, I immediately bought it in physical form just because it was that good. It's a sublime story that requires multiple listens in all the best ways and I can't wait to jump back into it again very soon.