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Something that Big Finish does extremely well is experiments. The audio company is always trying to push the boundaries of what it can release, trying new story telling methods and narrative flow. Some of their experiments have been very successful, some have unfortunately failed. And to be honest, I don’t know where The Three Companions sits.
This episode is released very uniquely, twelve ten minute segment across a year’s worth of Monthly Releases. In its original form, I’m sure it would have been quite clunky and slow, but in its edited form, the one I listened to, it flows well. The story is simple yet full of depth.
This Companion Chronicle takes the form of an email for the first two parts. While this is a great idea, it’s not written well. Marc Platt seems to have forgotten that it’s actually impossible to interrupt an email! I suppose it’s creative and original, but it was not executed well at all. It does, however, get the story across well, so I suppose that’s a plus.
It must be said here, Anneke Wills have one of the most soothing voices to listen to. Her narration is by far the best. She plays Polly well and full of range. As Polly is one of my favourite companions, it’s great to see where she is now. However, and it’s sad to say this, but Nicholas Courtney probably shouldn’t have appeared here. As this is his last performance before his untimely passing, you’d expect for him to sound a bit weary, but here it’s actually really hard to understand what he’s saying. Seriously, when he first appears it sounds like he’s moaning in pain. His speech is slurred and his words collide with each other. It makes me so sad to say this, as I love Nick Courtney and the Brigadier, but he’s really not up to doing this, and it really detracts from the story. But my god, John Pickard loves this script! He sounds perpetually excited, and there’s no hint of emotional range besides ecstatic.
This story is divided into three parts, Polly’s Story, Brigadier’s story and Brewster’s Story. They all seem really disconnected and only really feature the same villain/s. It’s like the Monk 3 Parter from Series 9, only not as bad. Polly Story is the best, with a simple premise and a lot of interesting ideas. Then we get Brigadier’s Story, which is less engaging and not as interesting (this is probably due to not being able to understand Nick Courtney, sorry, but it takes me out of the story). And then there’s Brewster’s Story, which attempts to tie things in some sort of reused bow. Another problem is that the story doesn’t know what it is about - is it a thriller, or an environmental disaster? It really can’t make its mind up.
Still, it’s full of great moments, and I really love some parts. It’s an alright experiment for Big Finish, and I suppose it’s only as successful as the listener thinks.