‘SHIELD OF THE JÖTUNN’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
A Trip to Arizona with the Sixth Doctor and Constance
It’s about to get very snowy and stormy from now on, isn’t it?!
This is the third ‘Doctor Who’ adventure with Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor and Miranda Raison as Constance Clarke. ‘Shield of the Jötunn’ is a four-part adventure by Ian Edginton. It’s a pretty intriguing, gripping, scary and complex ‘Doctor Who’ adventure to listen to when I heard it on audio.
This audio story is also extra-special as it’s directed by Louise Jameson! Yes, that’s right! Louise Jameson, who plays Leela in ‘Doctor Who’ with Tom Baker, directs Colin Baker and Miranda Raison in this audio adventure. Louise must be a very talented lady to act, write and direct in ‘Doctor Who’! 😀
The story itself is set in Arizona in 2029, not so far in the distant future. I enjoyed this adventure as it delves into lots of Viking legends and myths concerning the Jötunn and Jötunnheim. I don’t claim to fully understand the complexities of this story, but the character drama is often engaging to hear.
The TARDIS arrives in Arizona where the Doctor and Constance step out. They find a Viking burial mound in the desert of Arizona and it’s getting colder by the minute. In fact, it’s starting to snow. This gets stranger and terrifying by the minute when snow monsters come out to attack in Arizona.
The Jötunn come from Norse mythology, much like the Aesir and the Vanir. The name derives from Jötunnheim, one of the nine worlds in Norse mythology. As the story progresses, it transpires the name is given to the snow monsters that attack Arizona called the Talessh and they become vicious.
The shield is a Viking shield found at the burial mound in Arizona. The shield actually turns out to be disk for the Talessh to transmat from their world to the next. This is part of the Talessh’s plans to colonise the Earth and treat the humans as their enemies. This is something that the Doctor abhors.
I found it interesting from listening to the CD extras how challenging director Louise Jameson found the process of directing this story, especially with casting American actors for this story. It was also nice to hear that Louise enjoyed directing for both Colin Baker and Miranda Raison in this audio.
Of course, Louise has had plenty of experience in directing theatre plays with teenagers. So it was interesting to hear her thoughts on the directing process for this audio adventure. It was also interesting how she tackled the challenges of telling a good story and with enhancing the characters.
This story does have the feel of a base-under-siege structure, much like the classic stories from the Patrick Troughton era. There is a small group of characters including the Doctor and Constance who are trying to survive and are tackling the menace of fighting and defeating the Talessh snow-monsters.
Colin Baker is superb as the Doctor in this audio adventure. I really like Colin’s Doctor’s interaction with Constance in this adventure and how he keeps everyone together. The Doctor unravels more about what’s going on with the snowfall and the constant attacks and murders made by the Talessh.
I enjoyed it when the Doctor is getting frustrated with Dr. Hugo Macht and how there’s an element of sarcasm in his voice when speaking to him. I liked it when the Doctor warns and defies the Talessh by informing them that if they make the humans their enemies, that he will also be their enemy too.
Miranda Raison is wonderful as Constance Clarke in this audio adventure. I liked those early scenes between the Doctor and Constance when they’re trying to find the kitchen in the TARDIS. Constance tells the Doctor that he reminds her of her great-uncle Jasper, which was an interesting comparison.
I liked it when Constance has her own adventure with Professor Lisa Zetterling when she’s separated from the Doctor. I also liked it when she gets to read the Viking story by Herger on the Jötunn and the shield, as the TARDIS translation circuits kick in for her and she understands the Viking language.
Constance comes across as a strong woman, since she’s a WREN from the 1940s and it’s interesting to hear how she copes with the dangers of time-travel and being in Earth’s future. She claims that she doesn’t know the Doctor well, but she willingly trusts him with her life which was lovely to hear.
Michael J. Shannon guest stars as Dr. Hugo Macht. Macht is a billionaire philanthropist who comes to Arizona on his crusade to save the world from climate change. First, he seems to be a heartless and inconsiderate individual. But more is revealed about him, as his credentials aren’t what they seem.
Macht seems to be dim, clueless and baffled by everything that goes on in this adventure. He tries to help the Doctor when he’s with him, but his level of conversation doesn’t really help and the Doctor easily gets frustrated by him. He mocks the Doctor on his clothes and he gets to see the inside of the TARDIS.
Nell Mooney guest stars as Professor Lisa Zettering, a fellow colleague of Dr. Hugo Macht during this adventure. Lisa is more confident and stronger in terms of a character than Dr. Macht. I liked it when Lisa shares an adventure with Constance. It was fun to hear these two ladies bounce off each other.
I think that Lisa likes to use the word ‘seriously’ a lot when she’s with Constance. They both work out what goes on with the Viking legend written by Herger all those years ago and work together to cause a distraction for the Doctor. Lisa also puts Hugo Macht in his place when he becomes pessimistic.
James Caroll Jordan guest stars as Major Vincent Da Costa. Da Costa is with Hugo Macht and Lisa Zetterling on their trip to Arizona and provides the security. He’s concerned for the Doctor and Constance when they’re out there during the snowstorm, which leads him to a very tragic sticky end.
Mr. Jordan also guest stars as Herger, the Viking who discovered the shield of the Jötunn. It was interesting how the story shifts to Herger who tells the story of his discovery when it is being read by Constance in a flashback. But it transpires Herger may not be dead after all since he returns to fight.
There’s also Ryan Forde as Bryce, one of the extra security men under Da Costa for Macht and Lisa’s expedition to Arizona. Bryce seems mild-mannered and almost sacrifices himself to let the Doctor and the others escape. But he happens to be alive and believes he was abandoned. Will he last long?
Ryan Forde also voices the Talessh in this adventure. Sometimes it sounds like Nick Briggs as the voice of the Talessh, but Ryan does well in delivering menace and chilling tones. It was interesting how the Doctor tried to sympathise with the Talessh before their true plans got revealed in the tale.
‘Shield of the Jötunn’ has been an enjoyable audio adventure to listen to. I probably will need to listen to this again to get over some of the story’s complexities, but I found this to be a well-directed audio by Louise Jameson and well-performed by the cast led by Colin Baker and Miranda Raison in it.
The first trilogy with the Sixth Doctor and Constance has been very good overall. It’s obviously the beginning of a new invigorating dynamic between Colin Baker and Miranda Raison and a thrilling new beginning of a new chapter in the Sixth Doctor’s life. Who knows where this one will go next?!
The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 1, there’s a suite of incidental music to enjoy. At the end of Disc 2, there’s a trailer for ‘You Are The Doctor and Other Stories’ with Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred. There are also behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew including Colin Baker; Miranda Raison; director Louise Jameson; script editor Alan Barnes; etc.
If you subscribe to Big Finish for ‘Shield of the Jötunn’ via a 6 or 12 CD/download subscription, you’ll get the following extras. There’s a PDF script and extended extras for ‘Shield of the Jötunn’.
‘Shield of the Jötunn’ rating – 7/10
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