Please feel free to comment on my review.
Quadrigger Stoyn with the First Doctor and Susan
‘In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth’, Genesis, Chapter 1, verse 1. 🙂
In ‘The Beginning’, the First Doctor and Susan fled from their home planet. 😀 For the 50th anniversary of ‘Doctor Who’ in 2013, Big Finish decided to do a trilogy of ‘Companion Chronicle’ audio adventures to celebrate 50 years of the TV show. The first story of course is ‘The Beginning’. 🙂
This two-part audio adventure by Marc Platt features the First Doctor and Susan. Carole Ann Ford performs the story, mainly playing Susan and narrating the story from Susan’s point-of-view, and she’s joined by Terry Molloy, who is the antagonist for the entire audio trilogy – Quadrigger Stoyn. 😮
I purchased ‘The Beginning’ along with ‘The Dying Light’ and ‘Luna Romana’ in 2013, hoping to hear the story to celebrate 50 years of the TV show. I did hear the story back in 2013. I’m sure I enjoyed it, but my memory was hazy when I got to revisit this story for the TV show’s 60th anniversary in 2023.
Now that I’ve heard the story again, I have a clear overview to share on how I feel about this story overall. Most of the reviews I’ve come across regarding ‘The Beginning’ have been positive. Marc Platt is a popular ‘Doctor Who’ writer and Carole Ann Ford and Terry Molloy are excellent in the story.
However, this is where I risk an unpopular opinion and say that I don’t think ‘The Beginning’ is as excellent as people make it out to be. Don’t get me wrong, it’s decent enough. It was nice to hear this again. But I have issues regarding this story, particularly with Marc Platt’s philosophical ideas. 😐
Now to be fair, there are some good things to take away from ‘The Beginning’ and I hope to share that with you whilst reviewing this story. ‘The Beginning’ of course takes place before the ‘Destiny of the Doctor’ audio story ‘Hunters of Earth’ as well as ‘An Unearthly Child’, which is exciting to uncover.
In the story’s first episode, we have the scenes of the First Doctor and Susan fleeing their home planet in a TARDIS. Now Gallifrey doesn’t get mentioned by name, but it’s clearly that planet, especially when you hear the shots of the Gallifreyan guards’ staser weapons going off in the story. 🙂
You know, those shots that sound like they come from the weapons featured in Gallifrey stories like ‘The Deadly Assassin’ and ‘Arc of Infinity’. I share Carole Ann Ford’s sentiment that it’s never revealed why the First Doctor and Susan fled Gallifrey, since the story does focus more on the ‘how’ they fled Gallifrey.
There’s also mention of the transduction barriers made by Quadrigger Stoyn when the First Doctor and Susan interact with him. Incidentally, you may pick up a brief reference to ‘The Name of the Doctor’ in this audio story, especially when Clara interacts with the First Doctor from that episode. 🙂
It’s from Susan’s point of view of course, but I liked it when Susan goes into one TARDIS before being told to come out again by the First Doctor and they go into the next one. Apparently, the script got slightly ‘retooled’ as a few pick-ups were recorded, according to David Richardson’s producer notes.
By the way, I previously believed that the first TARDIS the First Doctor and Susan tried to get into was the Type 50 TARDIS from ‘Prisoners of Fate’, but I don’t think that’s accurate. This is especially when it turns out the row of TARDISes the First Doctor and Susan come across are decommissioned.
Apparently, the cover for ‘The Beginning’ was going to be different compared to the released version. In the original cover, the TARDIS looks like a pyramid with the seal of Rassilon on it. The real cover has the TARDIS looking like a cylinder, matching to its appearance in ‘The Name of the Doctor’.
When the Doctor and Susan enter the Type-40 TARDIS that will be used in the TV series, an old trunk followed them in. This is of course the trunk containing the Hand of Omega, which would be used in ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’. I like how Marc Platt included this. 🙂
And yes, Susan and her grandfather escape very swiftly from Gallifrey, wasting no time and are off to explore the universe. The TARDIS soon ends up on a ‘planet’, which turns out to be the Moon, I believe, since it’s in orbit of the planet Earth where the First Doctor and Susan first come across it. 😐
They soon discover that Quadrigger Stoyn, a Time Lord engineer, was working inside the TARDIS when they took off from Gallifrey. Stoyn is very unhappy that he, the Doctor and Susan are far away from home and he causes trouble when he tries to return the TARDIS to Gallifrey as soon as possible.
Taking the dematerialisation circuit out from the TARDIS, the Doctor, Susan and Stoyn soon come across the Archaeons, an advanced and ancient race of globular beings that seed planets with life. They hope to seed life into the planet Earth. And this is where things sadly fall apart for me at this point. 😦
From listening to the story, it’s implied the Archaeons had a part to play in the development of human beings by using a large cannon that shoots red lightning to breathe life. This goes against what I believe in, especially with me being brought up as a Christian, as I believe God is responsible for creating humans.
And look, I know this is an aspect of the story that I shouldn’t take seriously. This is fiction and fantasy after all, and there is leeway for how ‘Doctor Who’ defines how humans were created, whether it’d be religious, scientific or both. But this is a part of the story that I didn’t find appealing.
It screams of the human evolution stuff that was in ‘Ghost Light’, penned by Marc Platt himself, I might add. There are also echoes of ‘Bloodtide’ where the Silurians had a part to play in the development of humans on Earth, albeit that adventure was by Jonathan Morris and not Marc Platt.
As much as I disagree with Douglas Adams‘ philosophy on human evolution and his anti-God views in ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, at least I could enjoy the radio series with its doses of comedy featured throughout. I found it a struggle with taking in the Archaeons’ involvement with humanity.
Mainly because the story’s tone is intended to be serious. And yes, it matches to what the tone of the William Hartnell era of ‘Doctor Who’ was like in the TV series, but this story’s aspect wasn’t interesting enough for me. There’s a lot of talking going on. Not enough action and not light-heartedness, despite moments of character drama.
I also know there’s more to how this story turned out with the Archaeons attempting to disassemble the TARDIS by taking out the temporal stasis capacitor out. It created a stasis field which froze the Doctor, Susan, Stoyn and the Archaeons in time before human explorers came along and they set them free millions of years later.
Yeah, the first episode depicts the Earth in the distant past before we get to 450 million years later in the second episode. That’s fine, but I would’ve preferred it if human evolution and experimentation by Archaeons wasn’t involved and that it was handled on another alien planet for the TARDIS to visit.
It’s also implied that this story marks the First Doctor’s first visit to the Solar System and it’s his first interaction with humans. That’s contradicted nowadays, especially with the Fugitive Doctor interacting with humans in ‘Fugitive of the Judoon’. But hey, the Doctor forgot those memories then. 🙂
I’m also sure the Doctor became aware of humans before he and Susan left Gallifrey. He must have studied them at some point in his early life. I’ve had a go of touching on that when featuring Salvador in my ‘Doctor Who’ stories featuring the Fifth Doctor that touch upon the Doctor’s past on Gallifrey.
Carole Ann Ford is very good as Susan, both as the narrator and when she performs the character interacting with her grandfather and Stoyn. I don’t think Carole recreates William Hartnell’s Doctor exactly, but she does get the tone of him right, especially having worked with him in the TV series. 🙂
Terry Molloy is excellent as Quadrigger Stoyn in this audio story. For ‘Doctor Who’ fans, Terry Molloy is well-known for playing Davros in the TV series and the Big Finish audios. This is another of Terry’s non-Davros characters, following Russell in ‘Attack of the Cybermen’ and Dr. Wallace in ‘Rat Trap’. 🙂
The story’s director Lisa Bowerman also plays a small character role in the story. That of Greta, who is a human nurse from the lunar base Giant Leap Base that comes across the Doctor, Susan, Stoyn and the Archaeons in their stasis field. It was nice to hear the few lines Lisa had when playing Greta.
Apparently, Marc Platt was inspired by the episode ‘The Doctor’s Wife’ when he wrote this audio story. I suppose that fits considering the TARDIS takes the Doctor to where he needs to be according to that TV episode and the TARDIS does end up in random times and places in the First Doctor era. 🙂
‘The Beginning’ concludes with the First Doctor and Susan leaving Stoyn behind at the mercy of the Archaeons as well as the humans retaliating with missiles fired from Earth. This of course is the end of Stoyn’s debut in ‘Doctor Who’ as he’ll cross paths with the Doctor soon. What will happen next? 😐
The CD extras are as follows. There’s a trailer for ‘The Dying Light’ with Frazer Hines as Jamie, Wendy Padbury as Zoe and Terry Molloy as Quadrigger Stoyn. There are also behind-the-scenes interviews with Carole Ann Ford, writer Marc Platt and director Lisa Bowerman, conducted by producer David Richardson. Sadly, Terry Molloy couldn’t stick around for the interviews since he had a theatre job to go to. 😦
‘The Beginning’ isn’t what I would call an excellent ‘Doctor Who’ audio adventure. I know people will disagree with me on this, but I couldn’t get behind the Archaeons taking part in the development of humans on Earth, as that wasn’t appealing to me. I wish it was an alien planet they visited instead. 😦
With that said, ‘The Beginning’ is a decent opening story in what I would call ‘The Quadrigger Stoyn Trilogy’ of ‘Companion Chronicles’ audios by Big Finish. Carole Ann Ford and Terry Molloy are very good in this audio, and I look forward to what happens next when the Doctor meets Stoyn once more.
The set-up of how the First Doctor and Susan fled from Gallifrey is also well-handled in the opening scenes of the first episode as well as the closing moments of the second episode. It’s fascinating how it all began for the First Doctor and Susan, especially from knowing what’s to come in the TV show. 🙂
‘The Beginning’ rating – 7/10
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It was interesting to read your review of ‘The Beginning’.
*sigh* I hope you won’t take this personally or the wrong way, but I found this review to be a bit underwhelming in places. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate your views as a Christian, being one myself, despite not having been a churchgoer for years.
Anyway, there was in my opinion too much focus on the fact that the Archaeons were supposedly involved in the birth of humankind. I must admit that I didn’t pick up on that when listening to the story. Actually, I think that it was revealed in the end that the Archaeons actually wanted to destroy Earth, especially since Earth retaliates after they attack it. Maybe I’m wrong and don’t remember it properly.
Unfortunately, my love of this story has taken a bit of a downturn, which I didn’t want to happen. But that wasn’t your fault Tim. Maybe I should read my own review of the story to see what I took from it. I do apologise if what I have written come across as malicious, but that wasn’t my intention, as I’m sure yours wasn’t. I actually feel like this is similar to ‘Madquake’ in a way. I’m happy for you to stick by what you said.
I am glad that you found quite a few good things to take away from the story and that you don’t find it to be bad. I look forward to your future 60th anniversary ‘Doctor Who’ reviews.
P.s. tomorrow I will be uploading my review of ‘Morecambe and Wise: the Lost Tapes’. If you’re interesting in buying it, you may read to see what my thoughts on the DVD are.
Take care, WF92.
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Glad you enjoyed my review on ‘The Beginning’.
Yeah, I know I come across rather hard on this audio story featuring the First Doctor and Susan. Maybe I’m interpreting it differently compared to how you and others experienced it. I certainly wouldn’t want to spoil your enjoyment of this audio adventure. If you rate ‘The Beginning’ higher than me, then that’s great and I’m happy for you. I enjoyed this audio story on some level, particularly when the Doctor and Susan were escaping Gallifrey and they met up with Stoyn. But the stuff with the Archaeons and being involved with humanity’s development didn’t do it for me. I’m sure I enjoyed the story the first time I heard it back in 2013, but my initial memories of it were vague and it was a while since I heard before checking it out and reviewing it in 2023.
I don’t think you’re being malicious in your comments and I appreciate your honesty. I’m glad you appreciate my opinion on the story. Maybe other Christians who’ve heard this story enjoyed it more than me and that’s fine. But I didn’t find this story as excellent as I hoped it would be. I’m looking forward to listening to another Marc Platt-penned audio adventure later in the year and hopefully my review on that will be more positive compared to this one. Stay tuned. 🙂
Oh, I’m looking forward to your review on ‘Morecambe and Wise: The Lost Tapes’. Should be interesting to read.
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Thank you. I’m pleased my point across well. I don’t know if it was ever actually confirmed that the Archaeons are responsible for Earth’s creation. As for the religion side of things, maybe I’ll address it when it comes to my review of ‘The Daemons’ or something like that.
Anyway, I’ve probably gone on long enough about that. 😂 I agree with you and Carole Ann Ford on the Doctor and Susan’s reason for leaving Gallifrey is never given. I don’t know if it is in any other media. Also, I had no that was Lisa Bowerman playing Greta the nurse. 😀
Take care, WF92.
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Maybe not responsible for the Earth’s creation, but I get the impression the Archaeons had a part to play in humanity’s development which didn’t sit well with me. I might be wrong on this, but that’s the impression I got. I look forward to how you handle your review on ‘The Daemons’ when you get to that story.
Glad you agree with me and Carole Ann Ford about the First Doctor and Susan’s reason for leaving Gallifrey never being given in this story. Although, to be fair, it would have spoiled the mystery if it was given in the story. I’ve yet to check other stories that account the First Doctor and Susan’s departure from Gallifrey like the ‘Time & Time Again’ comic and ‘The Exiles’ Short Trip. Yeah, and it was a few lines Lisa Bowerman had as Greta the nurse.
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