‘THE FORBIDDEN TIME’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Polly and the Vist
This ‘Doctor Who’ story requires more than one listen with its complexities intact!
‘The Forbidden Time’ has been an interesting and enjoyable audio adventure by Big Finish with Anneke Wills as Polly. This is another one of the Companion Chronicles featuring the Second Doctor, Polly, Ben and Jamie. It takes place within this alternative Earth timeline with deadly alien monsters.
This is a two-part story by David Lock, who apparently doesn’t exist. David Lock is actually a pseudonym for the writer Andy Lane. This…baffles me when I looked the name up as I wonder why Andy Lane used a pseudonym for this story. As of yet, I can’t seem to find any answers regarding it.
Listening to this audio story has been interesting and mind-boggling to say the least. I don’t think it’s one of the best audio stories ever produced, but it is a fascinating tale that tells the story of a bleak Earth future where the alien-like Vist are taking control of this certain section of time on the planet.
The story is narrated by an older Polly who gets to talk to a conference of people and tell them about a certain adventure she had with the Doctor, Ben and Jamie. This story is told after a telepathic worldwide message is broadcast by the alien Vist about taking control of the planet Earth.
In the story itself, the TARDIS lands on a deserted street in London where the Doctor, Polly, Ben and Jamie explore. Soon the TARDIS foursome gets attacked by the monstrous Vist who kill Ben in the process. The Doctor and Polly get separated from Jamie, as they run for their lives to escape the Vist.
It was interesting to hear Polly tell this story to the people of Earth to reassure them about something. For a while, I wasn’t sure it was the real Polly or that something was going to happen by the end of that story to change everything in terms of human history. Sadly this didn’t come across.
But as far as I’ve been able to understand it, the Vist were broadcasting a message from a shadow version of Earth which took place from 2011 to 2019. And as Polly relates her story to the people of Earth, it gets revealed that the Doctor did something to outwit the Vist from coming into our reality.
Now don’t get me wrong, I find the concepts of this story intriguing to listen to on audio. But I think this would have worked better as a full-cast audio drama rather than a Companion Chronicle, as more would be allowed to be absorbed in a full story. It did put me in mind of ‘The Monks Trilogy’ in 2017.
I enjoyed Anneke Wills’ narration of the story, especially when she’s the older Polly. It was intriguing how far Polly has come in this stage of her life, since the last time I heard she was working for the government. It would have been nice to discover how Polly got to gain people’s trust and attention.
I also enjoyed the scenes when the younger Polly interacts with the Doctor in the story. Anneke Wills clearly enjoyed playing Patrick Troughton’s Doctor when she was interacting with Polly. More is highlighted about how the Second Doctor truly cares and shows concern for Polly in this audio story.
Another thing I liked is how Polly compares her time with the Second Doctor with the First Doctor when she met him. Clearly Polly preferred the Second Doctor when she was travelling with him. This echoes the differing working relationships Anneke had with Patrick Troughton and William Hartnell.
Polly described the First Doctor as being dismissive whereas the Second Doctor would be more concerned about her anxieties. It’s interesting that Polly should be thinking about this aspect in the two Doctor’s personalities, especially before they venture out into the dangers of the bleak London.
As well as Anneke Wills, this story also features special guest star Frazer Hines as Jamie McCrimmon. It was nice to hear Frazer in this, although Jamie doesn’t interact with the Doctor, Polly and Ben a lot in certain scenes. Jamie is mostly heard on a dictaphone, given to him by Polly early on in this audio.
Polly plays the dictaphone for people to hear when Jamie narrates his side of the story. This is when he’s separated from the Doctor and Polly. I enjoyed those sections when Jamie gets to narrate some of the story via dictaphone and it provides more dynamism in how the adventure progresses later on.
It’s a shame that Frazer Hines couldn’t get to play the Doctor in this audio adventure, since I like his impersonation of Patrick Troughton. But this is of course Polly’s story and it’s just as well she narrates this story and Anneke Wills gets to do Patrick Troughton’s Doctor instead than Frazer Hines.
A shocking moment happens in this story when Ben gets killed. Polly is clearly upset by this when it happens, as it goes to show how much she loved Ben when they travelled in the TARDIS with the Doctor. But it turns out that Ben may not be dead as seems, according to the Doctor as he tells Polly.
This is where it got confusing; especially with the TARDIS team being inside a time zone that is side-ways out of time from Earth’s real version of history. But I’m pleased that Ben and Jamie managed to survive at the end of this tale when the Doctor and Polly are reunited with them outside the TARDIS.
It’s interesting to note the older Polly states to the people of Earth that she sometimes sees Ben working at a pub. This confused me as I wondered whether Polly and Ben were married by this point. Maybe they marry after Polly finishes telling this story to the people of Earth. I’m not so sure.
As well as playing Polly in this audio adventure, Anneke Wills also gets to play the alien Vist. I wouldn’t have recognised Anneke as the Vist, considering Big Finish’s talent in distorting the voices to make them sound more alien. But Anneke clearly enjoyed playing the Vist in this audio adventure.
The Vist are described as long-legged like Daddy Long Legs and have the body of a dog with the head of a monkey. These are aliens who seem arrogant and superior, believing that they have the right to control time. The Doctor defies these time walking aliens, but they refuse to adhere to him.
I liked the references made to Professor Brett, Polly’s boss from ‘The War Machines’, when she talks to Jamie and gives him the dictaphone. It’s also interesting that Ben and Polly have been told by the Doctor about ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’ that happened in the 22nd century, years in their future.
It was also interesting that the Doctor doesn’t reveal much to Polly about his people, considering that he doesn’t want to when they’re dealing with the Vist. This would change when the older Polly reunites with the Doctor in his fifth incarnation and she’s told about them in ‘The Five Companions’.
The story ends with Polly saying thank you to the people of Earth for listening to her story and to reassure them about Earth’s safety from the Vist. She then goes off into a quiet room and listens to Jamie’s voice on the dictaphone, when he says he values being with his dear friends. Polly does too.
The CD extras are as follows. There’s a trailer for ‘The Sentinels of the New Dawn’ with Caroline John as Liz Shaw. There are also behind-the-scenes interviews with Anneke Wills, Adams Williams of BFP Administration and director Lisa Bowerman, conducted by producer David Richardson on this story.
‘The Forbidden Time’ has been an interesting and enjoyable audio adventure to listen to. I don’t think it’s one of the best, as it is mostly complex and does require another listen. But I enjoyed Anneke Wills’ narration and to hear her as the younger and older Polly as well as hear Frazer Hines as Jamie.
‘The Forbidden Time’ rating – 6/10
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