The Mists of Time

Posted in Audio by - May 03, 2019
The Mists of Time

Released August 2011

Originally released as a digital download exclusive to readers of Doctor Who Magazine issue 411 in July 2009, ‘The Mists of Time’ by Jonathan Morris was later released as the second of three stories included in The Companion Chronicles: The Specials box set. With Jo Grant in the spotlight, the dark past of the Time Lords themselves comes to light as Jo inexplicably finds herself back on the ravaged planet of Zayin Eight and reunited with a human named Newton Calder whose team members have mysteriously gone missing.

‘The Mists of Time’ by necessity serves as an introduction to The Companion Chronicles range, and so it is no surprise that both the narrative framing device and the actual story being told are fairly traditional. Nonetheless, as Calder reminds Jo that she has been here before and asks her to tell him the tale, the expanded running time afforded this production allows an immense atmosphere to be created as Jo and the Doctor explore the tense confusion engulfing a Space Archaeology Group dig. Interestingly, Calder is a member of this original dig, but the fact that Jo’s narration takes place in the third person sadly takes away from the potential drama that could likewise be shared their present. Still, this does mean that Calder can relate events that occurred when Jo was asleep or otherwise not present, allowing a more dynamic and robust account of the strange and ghostly reappearances of those who have perished.

In every sense, Morris recaptures the spirt of the classic serials that saw Jon Pertwee’s incarnation leave Earth and his UNIT family behind. With an isolated group of humans under threat and the Doctor insistent that there is a scientific explanation for the apparitions that appear in short order once the subject enters someone’s mind, ‘The Mists of Time’ doesn’t necessarily try to take any risks but instead ensures that it upholds the traditional core of this era to entice new listeners with just how evocative the audio medium can be for this long-past but beloved period of the franchise. Unfortunately, this more traditional route means that the rather fascinating look into the surprising brutality of the Time Lords far in their past is relegated to the background quite quickly in favour or a machine that has now found its way into the hands of a man with delusions of grandeur and dreams of riches beyond compare. Given the more aristocratic nature of the Third Doctor and just how dearly he holds the laws of time even if he doesn’t always agree with his people, he is the perfect medium through which to explore the Time Lords’ one-time willingness to completely erase temporal rivals from existence, but this is little more than a perfunctory bit of exposition that is quickly passed over to continue the narrative at hand.

As is typical with Jo’s tales, Katy Manning proves again to be a true master of the audio medium as she deftly distinguishes the two versions of Jo while likewise capturing the intonations of Pertwee and bringing several other supporting characters to life vividly. Andrew Whipp may not be quite as involved as other guest actors in the range, but his presence is perfectly evocative as needed for an atmospheric ghost story like ‘The Mists of Time’ sets out to tell. Thus, although the climax may be a bit rushed and the end twist predictable yet still wholly satisfying, this is strong introduction to the range that hits all of the right notes even if it doesn’t try to experiment and do something new like so many great successes in this range already have.

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