Audio Drama Review: ‘The Eighth Of March 2: Protectors of Time’
by Rachel Bellwoar
The Eighth of March 2: Protectors of Time
Directed by Helen Goldwyn and Louise Jameson
Starring Lalla Ward (Romana), Georgia Tennant (Jenny),Michelle Ryan (Lady Christina de Souza), Katy Manning (Jo Jones), Anjli Mohindra (Rani Chandra), and Jaye Griffiths (Jac)
Big Finish celebrates International Women’s Day with another Eighth of March box set that includes three standalone stories.
As much as Doctor Who has been quick to move on in the past, once companions have stepped off the TARDIS, Big Finish is just as interested in what companions get up to on their own. With “Stolen Futures,” writer, Lizbeth Myles, gets to continue Romana II’s story after the events of “Warrior’s Gate”. While this is exactly the kind of narrative Big Finish makes possible, it’s also one that relies on fans having some knowledge of Romana’s send-off serial. If this were part of the Short Trip range that would make sense, but as part of a box set that’s supposed to be more universal, it doesn’t fit. Ramona is trying to help the Tharils rescue their people, for example, and it’s taken for granted that listeners will know that Tharils can travel using the time winds. By having the antagonists be human, the revenge plotlines hit closer to home, but be prepared to use Google if you haven’t seen “Warrior’s Gate.”
What’s great about Big Finish’s anthologies is they expose you to ranges you might never have tried otherwise. The highest compliment I can pay Abigail Burdess’ story is that it immediately made me want to look up other volumes of “Jenny: The Doctor’s Daughter” and “Lady Christina.” It also speaks to how well “Prism” was written that Jenny and Christina spend most of the story apart, yet there isn’t an A story and a B story. They’re both A stories. Starting with Jenny and her best friend, Noah (Sean Biggerstaff), after an amazing entrance that involves them putting a lot of faith in their space suits, Jenny gets mistaken for a stockholder and has to figure out where they are. Christina, meanwhile, is driving a bus to try and get her hands on a diamond, when she recognizes one of the servers (Ffion Jolly) from her school days.
Tennant captures the Doctor’s “winging it” spirit superbly, and all of the characters have their own agendas, so there’s a lot of getting in the way of each other’s plans (though they’re all fond of each other, too, so it’s never personal). When they do meet, the story never loses steam as everything becomes more connected.
“The Turn of the Tides“
Jo Jones is no stranger to environmental causes. Since her last serial (“The Green Death”), most of Jo’s stories, post-Doctor, have been about her efforts to save the planet, and Nina Millns’ story is no exception. It’s not as though that subject’s been exhausted, unfortunately, but it’s starting to feel expected.
In “Turn of the Tides,” nature has been acting strange lately. The tides are off and something’s going on with the moon. Jo only appeared on The Sarah Jane Adventures once (or twice, if you count the fact that “Death of the Doctor” was a two-parter), but one of the biggest draws of this box set was the chance to hear Jo reunite with Sarah Jane’s protégé, Rani. There are some lovely nods to Sarah Jane in this story, including that Rani’s chosen the same career, but there are too many characters and Jac ends up having the showier part.
Until script editor, Matt Fitton, mentioned it in the interviews I didn’t remember that Jac had appeared in two episodes of Doctor Who (I haven’t seen the Twelfth Doctor’s seasons since they aired). She works for UNIT’s science division and has a great arc in this story, as someone who starts out putting on airs but learns to be a team player. Often UNIT officers are played as very stern and by the book, but Griffiths’ Jac is all false bravado, and provides the perfect amount of exasperation and eyerolls, but it’s not the story that was promised (even if it’s a great performance), and Rani is too much of a background character. She and Jo never get to be alone together, while Jo’s protégé, Rio (Sheena Bhattessa), is like listening to a lecture – too rigid and unforgiving.
The Eighth of March 2: Protectors of Time is available to purchase from Big Finish.