Find and Replace

Posted in Audio by - April 13, 2019
Find and Replace

Released September 2010

Following the indisputable success of ‘Ringpullworld,’ it was all but inevitable that Paul Magrs would bring back Huxley, famed Novelisor from Verbatim Six, for another tale at least tangentially linked to the Doctor’s many adventures. Attaching to beloved companion Jo Grant during the Christmas shopping season of 2010 in ‘Find and Replace,’ he takes her back to the 1970s and the happiest time of her life as she confronts memories she has no knowledge of regarding her apparent travels with the one and only Iris Wildthyme.

‘Find and Replace’ is absolutely a showcase reel of the astounding talents Katy Manning possesses. Shown here is a more seasoned Jo who is extremely comfortable with her life, and yet she still retains some of the more hippie-like qualities that made her so endearing on screen. She doesn’t necessarily like looking back and would rather explore new avenues, but she can’t resist the opportunity to revisit her time in UNIT even as Huxley assures her she has fabricated the stories of her time alongside the Doctor, knowing herself to be correct and using the personal reassurance that the Doctor’s embrace and soft velvet sleeves used to bring her as indisputable proof in her mind. Tellingly, she describes her time at UNIT as being the beginning of her life, and the utter devotion she retains for the Time Lord after all of this time helps sell the incredibly emotional final scene these two share as Jo wishes she could stay just a little longer.

This momentous conversation is all the more impressive given the fact that Manning is playing both characters. While no listener would ever confuse Manning’s voice for Jon Pertwee’s, her understanding of the subtle nuances of his gruff but compassionate Doctor makes him sparkle with life once more as he proves through his audacious plan just how much he values his relationship with Jo even if he clearly doesn’t fully understand human nature and emotions. While it is true that the Doctor’s plan is tenuous at best as he reveals that he was behind Huxley’s intent to mislead Jo to assist in a sort of witness protection scheme that causes much of the first episode to be rather superfluous as a result, the superb second half in which Jo confronts her own past with the insight of so many years passed more than makes up for any potential shortcoming in the narrative’s setup.

Of course, ‘Find and Replace’ also marks the first appearance of transtemporal adventuress Iris Wildthyme in The Companion Chronicles, and Manning once more excels with the brash and daring woman whose bravado and questionable ties to the truth she has perfected over the years for Big Finish. Given that Manning is voicing all of these lead characters who also interact with and interject each other quite liberally, it’s truly amazing that there is never any slip with the distinct voices or mannerisms at any point, and the rather suggestive intimations of Iris with certain figures of this time only heighten this surreal but emotive experience all the more. While it would almost seem inevitable that anyone cast alongside Katy Manning in this story would fall short by comparison, Alex Lowe actually fares quite well as Huxley, deconstructing the narrative and providing unique viewpoints as needed. Unfortunately, he’s not quite as intimately involved in the story here as in ‘Ringpullworld,’ and precisely because of the Doctor’s scheme he is more relegated to arguing with Jo about the facts behind her memories without really trying to prove himself as being correct. Still, this is a production that features incredibly strong performances, direction, and sound design, and the end result is a highly enjoyable outing that calls upon the main and expanded universes of Doctor Who expertly.

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