The Company of Friends (#123)

Big Finish Main Range

Benny’s Story by Lance Parkin

Bennie and the eighth Doctor work very well together, though this story is a bit generic in nature. It’s very good, surprising, and full of a few twists but the concept is a bit odd with the Countess Venhella being a weird type of goodie two-shoes in general. So there’s no real bad guy but there is, and there isn’t. Bennie gets to be snarky and spout off her little asides. The Doctor gets to be off the cuff and generally having a good time as he solves things, though perhaps a little too easily at the end there. But a good time is had by all!

They work well together and the Doctor doesn’t have a twinge of conscience at the end as he leaves, which is odd in a way. Bennie would not make a great companion for him because she’d only stop him when he was doing the bigger bad things and by then, it might be too late! But that could make it all a bit more interesting, too…

Fitz’s Story by Stephen Cole

Though only a character in the books I’ve run across once, Fitz doesn’t really interest me. I thought this would be his chance to shine but if this is what his character’s all about, I’m glad he’s not an audio book companion. I rolled my eyes a lot during this audio. Whatever, frat boy. Not that being indulgent and trying to party with the girls is a bad thing but I get the impression that he’s been doing this with the Doctor for years (in the books) so perhaps he could grow up just a bit someday. Or is that his charm? Because it’s not extremely charming any angle I look at it. Perhaps he and young Turlough could go off and wreak havoc but Turlough learned, he grew up a bit when he was with the Doctor! I don’t get the impression that’s something Fitz is even interested in…

Izzy’s Story by Alan Barnes

The beginning of this story has me bored but it turns out a bit better than I expected, that’s for sure. Is Izzy just 12 years old? Good lord but the Doctor is going with younger and younger companions all the time, isn’t he? Wow. Not that the theme of this one is too young with comic books but Izzy sounds like she’s definitely a teen/pre-teen girl and not prone to growing up either. The Doctor doesn’t even do much during this story as it’s all about Izzy and her antics. I haven’t run across her character in the few books I’ve read but that doesn’t bother me at all now.

Mary’s Story by Jonathan Morris

I struggled with whether to give this 5 out of 5 jelloids because it’s really, really good! The first time the Doctor meets Mary Shelley isn’t the first time he meets her really. I actually hope that they do more adventures with Mary though what she brings to the table besides a fertile imagination isn’t very clear. Every character has something – Ace has her tendency towards violence, Hex has his tendency towards healing, Nyssa is telepathic and thoughtful and brilliant, and so on. She is a bit generic Victorian womanly here though her life is not, obviously.

But she is the only one who tries to “tame” the monster. And though I haven’t read her famous book, I think this story very much parallels and introduces a lot of the story for her, which is both good and bad. It works fantastically for the story but it also takes away from her abilities as a writer as she would’ve just been putting down on paper some of these events and shaping them into a complete story. It’s really, really fun to listen to, though, so if there’s any of the audios you listen to on this CD, definitely listen to this one!!!

Paul McGann, Lisa Bowerman (Benny), Matt di Angelo (Fitz), Jemima Rooper (Izzy), Julia Cox (Mary)

Director: Nicholas Briggs

Release: July 2009

Laura Vilensky 2019