Helicon Prime

Posted in Audio by - February 03, 2019
Helicon Prime

Released November 2007

Jamie McCimmon is quite rightfully one of the most beloved characters in all of Doctor Whohistory, that steadfast companion of the Second Doctor who left his side only when the Time Lords themselves saw it necessary as part of the Doctor’s sentence for interfering in space and time. ‘Helicon Prime’ by Jake Elliott marks Frazer Hines’s first return to the iconic role since 1985’s ‘The Two Doctors,’ and his timeless voice, unbridled energy and enthusiasm, and uncanny recreation of Patrick Troughton’s make this the most engrossing entry in The Companion Chronicles yet.

Helicon Prime is described as the most exclusive holiday destination in the universe, situated in the unique oasis of calm in space known as the Golden Section. The imagery employed to bring this uniquely alien local to life such as crystalline beings, fountain water flowing upwards, and delicate flowers existing on the very edge of perception is brilliant, and Jamie’s ongoing reactions to the wonders around him perfectly recapture the essence of the era. Naturally, it’s not long before the peace is broken and the Doctor finds himself examining a dead body he believes was murdered. Aided by renowned singer Mindy Voir with whom the Doctor appears to have a strange obsession, the Doctor and Jamie unwittingly find themselves involved in a group’s search for the treasure of Fennus, an unstable and abandoned colony that saw all of its colonists perish, as Helicon Prime is being drawn out of the Golden Section.

The glaring shortcoming of any murder mystery told over such a compact running time and featuring such a small cast of characters outside of the lead duo is that there really is no time to develop the mystery or what is going to occur. Elliott does seem quite keenly aware of this, and the script makes it a point to suggest that Ambassador Dromeo is a figure to watch practically from the start. Accordingly, the story follows a fairly linear trajectory as Jamie witnesses Dromeo’s murderous actions and ransacking searches while the environment around them begins to collapse. Fortunately, the revelation that Fennus was an advanced community thriving on intellect alone is a strong central idea, and it gives the search for the data banks that provide the only legacy of the brilliant minds that could not be saved a needed extra layer and urgency. Perhaps less effective is the attempted narrative swerve in which the framing device through which an older Jamie is telling this tale becomes a direct continuation of the events previously described. Though this idea is fascinating when presented by itself, there is no explanation afforded just how Mindy has come to be in Scotland and thus comes off somewhat confusingly without helping the true resolution, making it seem as if the twist was included simply to provide a twist after a fairly straightforward affair.

Although the 2015 release of ‘The Black Hole’ in The Early Adventures audio range retroactively somewhat complicated long-held assumptions and accepted facts about the Second Doctor following the events of ‘The War Games’ on television, the statement that Victoria is absent from this adventure as she studies graphology quite explicitly suggests that this adventure takes place in season 6B that Terrence Dicks and the BBC have accepted as fact. As the only Second Doctor audio story set within this timeframe in which the Doctor is recruited to work for the Celestial Intervention Agency, there’s a wealth of unique storytelling opportunities that instantly presents itself, making the ultimate choice of story told something of a letdown in comparison. The production itself is technically sound,and Frazer Hines’s performance is pitch perfect from beginning to end as Jamie, the Doctor, and narrator; overall, however, ‘Helicon Prime’ is enjoyable but hardly a showcase for the best of the era and the enduring memories it has created.

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