Ringpullworld

Posted in Audio by - March 27, 2019
Ringpullworld

Released November 2009

Within the narrative confines of one character relating a story to another, several early installments of The Companion Chronicles have toyed with that format to maintain intrigue and avoid the trap of simply having the story sound like a standard audiobook with little personal investment or intimacy. While varying degrees of success have been obtained with these experiments, writer Paul Magrs has perhaps provided the most ambitious and effective example yet in ‘Ringpullworld’ as the Novelisors from Verbatim Six have finally found their way aboard the TARDIS to chronicle the adventures of the famed Doctor and his companions, here as Turlough pilots a stolen ship through a pocket universe on a mission the Doctor has strictly forbidden.

Although the initial premise of Turlough needing to kill the Doctor was narratively a suspect one from a potential companion’s perspective, the more self-serving and cynical nature of the character was a fascinating thread that set him apart from others even if he didn’t receive the most rounded characterisation during his televised tenure and too often was relegated to sulking shiftily in the background. Fortunately, the audio medium has allowed Turlough to truly shine as a character from the very beginning, and Mark Strickson gives one of his most enthusiastic performances that highlights just how much Turlough has begun to change for the better since joining the Doctor while questioning if the old Turlough would like the man he has since become.

Each installment of this series allows thorough exploration of the inner workings and thoughts of the featured character, but this notion is spectacularly brought to the forefront with the addition of the Novelisor Huxley played so brilliantly by Alex Lowe. What unfolds is not a simple retelling of a narrative so much as an impassioned discussion about the best way to tell the story occurring in the present tense. Turlough is understandably irritated to no end about having his every thought stated, questioned, and chronicled, but whether Huxley simply elaborates on the style of Turlough’s intonations or offers greater insight into the true actions he provides a fascinating look at the role of a narrator in general and emphasises everything that makes Turlough so unique. The fact that Huxley feels somewhat let down by the fact that he has attached to Turlough rather the Doctor only further fleshes out the fascinating dynamic these two create, and the fact that all Novelisors form mental links with their subjects while remaining in telepathic contact with the others to add to the universe’s ongoing narrative hints at the dedication to their race’s calling regardless of their subjects’ own thoughts on the matter.

The first episode is filled with immense visuals befitting of Magrs’s lofty reputation, and the story of dimensional transcendentalism being brought into the universe to stop the aggressive expansion of one species at the dawn of time without engaging hostilities is brilliantly conceived with the barrier between universes looking like a ringpull imaginatively ingenious. Yet as Turlough recounts the events that led him to this situation with hilarious but loving impressions of the Fifth Doctor and Tegan that feature perfect words and mannerisms to lend verisimilitude to both, it’s Huxely’s revelation that he can flash forward and allow speech through the future tense as well which sends ‘Ringpullworld’ into another level of storytelling completely. Huxley suggests that there are three distinct possible outcomes here, and Turlough soon takes up the mantle of narrating the very best outcome, becoming more comfortable with the prospect of speaking in this tense as he progresses and realising only at the end that this may not ultimately be how events play out despite his confidence. That the story ends without a true resolution decided may leave some listeners feeling unfulfilled, but as the culmination of a brilliant and audacious experiment with storytelling it’s wholly fitting and once more allows the character of Turlough and his utter belief in the Doctor to shine all that more brightly. This is without a doubt the epitome of what The Companion Chronicles can achieve, and the writing, direction, sound design, and acting that all emphasise characterisation and the quips of interaction amidst a gorgeously visual and dangerous backdrop excel on every front.

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