Once and Future: Two’s Company

Posted in Audio by - August 17, 2023
Once and Future: Two’s Company

Released August 2023


Changing from his third to sixth incarnation, the Doctor finds himself in the crosshairs of another renegade Time Lord who is looking to stop his travels before they even begin in “Two’s Company” by Lisa McMullin. With Harry Sullivan, Jackie Tyler, and Lady Christina de Souza all seemingly entwined in some capacity, he must find any clue he can to the origins of the degeneration weapon that is wreaking such havoc across his timelines.

The biggest flaw of so many celebratory stories is that they often look to incorporate as many characters or callbacks as possible to help create a truly momentous occasion and atmosphere, often at the sacrifice of any meaningful narrative or character development, and that unfortunately is the case with “Two’s Company.” While this is no insult against Michelle Ryan who gives an utterly charming and energetic performance as the confident and determined Lady Christina, deftly proving just why her own series of audio adventures should continue in the process, this is simply not a character who needs to be a prominent focus in an anniversary story after featuring in only one on-screen adventure. Her skill set with heists and daring and acrobatic acts as well as her unique scope of knowledge are absolutely essential for the plot to progress as needed, but even the Doctor is forced to remark just how convenient it is that he has been led to encounter an individual that offers precisely what he needs. As it is, this provides a sort of backhanded way for River Song to be involved as she apparently guided Jackie to Lady Christina’s abode to ask for a cleaning job that didn’t exist, but this in itself is also something of an odd narrative decision given how much more important River has been to the modern series.

Jackie, naturally, is Jackie, and Camille Coduri effortlessly reprises her role as an outspoken woman who continues to care for and worry so much about her daughter while also trying to make a living and continue on with her ordinary life. She forms a fast friendship with Lady Christina despite their very different upbringings, and Coduri and Ryan form an immense chemistry that could easily form the basis for many more intriguing adventures; while the foundation for them meeting and for Jackie happening upon an incredibly important piece of alien jewelry that Rose happened to leave behind are both somewhat tenuous, they succinctly combine to bring the Doctor into their lives and to join their adventure when the Doctor’s plans to purchase the artefact at an auction are upended by another mysterious bidder on the phone. Sadly, “Two’s Company” then takes the all too familiar route of having both of these immensely enjoyable characters forget their experiences together so as to keep established continuities in tact, eliminating any potential drama or character development that could be explored in any future stories.

It’s also somewhat unfortunate that Harry is presented as a man who will so willingly accept any Time Lord claiming to be the Doctor as the Doctor. While the ambiguity that the change of appearance as well as the possibility that regeneration could cause any number of inexplicable conditions certainly exist, more time needed to be devoted to explaining just why he has fallen so completely in line with this mysterious Time Lord without a TARDIS who is undertaking experiments with an extremely alien element. As the title furtively points out, this authoritative and quite belligerent character turns out to be the Two, and while Michael Maloney gives an intriguing performance as this character who is experiencing regenerative dissonance for the first time and who is trying to come to terms with what an increasing number of voices could mean in subsequent regenerations, there is never any reason to believe that he is the Doctor or for Harry who has had such tremendous experiences with the Doctor to at least question him more overtly. Still, Christopher Naylor continues to give an incredibly strong performance as Harry that captures the essence of Ian Marter so well, and although Harry is a bit too quick to reveal vital information to anyone around him, his chemistry with Colin Baker is wonderful and provides a nice tie to both UNIT and the Doctor’s past as the Two’s plan to travel to 1963 to stop the Doctor from embarking on his lifetimes of journeys begins to take form.

With so much time devoted to returning characters, it’s perhaps unsurprising that The Two suffers somewhat as a result. The Eleven, of course, made an instant impact in Doom Coalition and has rightfully featured in many more serials since while also paving the way for other incarnations to also feature in a number of adventures across the cosmos. The Two is unique, however, because this is the first regeneration of the renegade to have to come to terms with his unique condition, and he quite rightly wonders what his future will hold. This is a fascinating angle to explore that could truly offer a rewarding sort of origin story for one of Big Finish’s iconic Doctor Who nemeses, but that opportunity is unfortunately set to the side in exchange for him choosing instead to target the Doctor after he was shown that the Doctor will forever be the cause of his downfall. It’s a neat way to bring Karn into the fold indirectly as part of the celebratory affairs, but this robs the Two of any meaningful characterization and ultimately just makes the villain wholly more generic in the process.

Ultimately, then, “Two’s Company” is a celebratory release in every way, and while it does perhaps finally point the Doctor toward the origins of the degeneration weapon while also introducing the intriguing properties of esoterium and its relevance in Time Lord history, it’s fairly light on story overall and revels in the conveniences needed to bring its many characters together. Still, Colin Baker is superb as the Doctor and showcases the immense bravado that his incarnation constantly exudes, and the story as a whole is a fast-paced and enjoyable but ultimately forgettable affair fronted by an incredibly engaging cast of actors and characters.

This post was written by

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.