The Queen of Time (Anglais) CD – Livre audio, 31 octobre 2013
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This is a gemstone of a story, and I was more than pleased with it. The character voices are perfectly done; Wendy Padbury knows her voice has deepened with age and she works with it to create a smoother Zoe voice--I could see her as a teenager again in my mind, fussing over the clocks to save the Doctor's life. Frazer Hines plays a Jamie who has grown up a little--clever use of his voice--for the first time we find him swayed by the charms of the female species. And when he plays the part of his friend Patrick Troughton, it's enough to send the chills of delight down your spine.
It's often a criticism of the Troughton Whoniverse that all the stories are the same--I never found that to be the case, as the TARDIS has proven it tends to go where the Doctor needs to go, as opposed to where he wants to go, and each different personality of the Doctor seems to need different things. Here nothing is planned: They are minding their own business and passing a quiet evening together when Hecuba, Queen of Time, dumps them into her trap. I can think of only one other time in which something nasty yanked them out of space, and that's the Great Intelligence.
The Doctor doesn't reveal the true identity of their charming captor until the very last. He drops hints here and there, but ever mindful, he never spills the beans until they're safe in the TARDIS. This is the Toymaker's sister, and there is a huge hint that he gave her the full dossier on the Doctor, because she's expecting a grand game and some fun.
Like the Toymaker, the games are layered with traps inside traps. Jamie and Zoe, the weak humans, are fighting for their lives in her maze and the Doctor is forced to fight for their very existence by keeping her entertained, much as the Toymaker wanted the Doctor to play Trilogic with him while Stephen and Dodo struggled through his Arcade. Although Zoe seems to be the driving force behind their successes at first, Jamie comes into his own and his own strengths prove their merit when he protects Zoe from death again and again.
Hecuba is a treat of a fiend. She is a villain's vixen of the first water, flirting outrageously at the Doctor and loving the fact that she's keeping him out of his comfort zone. But again, Troughton's Doctor is never completely readable. You never know if he's pretending or not--that big brain is always working, always running at light-speed to think ahead, and he always does his best thinking when he's protecting his friends. When Hecuba's evil laughter grates on his nerves and he struggles to hide his feelings, I was right there with him, thinking, "Oh, good heavens, not the laugh again. Please. I'll do anything you want." That's got to be the worst Evil Laugh since Evil Ed in the original Fright Night film. He's almost relieved when she forces him to fight a battleground version of "scissors-paper-rock" with soldiers and weapons.
Being Audio, this allows us some insights we wouldn't ordinarily get. Here we glimpse the futility of being a Celestial--no value, only games, and no joy, only immediate gratification. All she really wants is to turn the Doctor into a Grandfather Clock at the end of her game.
And then the Doctor goes completely Troughton on her and gives her a dose of her own medicine. It's all I can do to keep from springing that surprise, but I was completely satisfied, as well as the ending which leaves it all open to another re-match--and I really hope this is a rematch with the Second Doctor! I listened to the ending more than once, giggling because I was just so happy with how it ended. Five stars! And I hope for a sequel!
By nature of the story, this isn't something complex or extremely memorable. This is a simple 4-part Adventure tale that features a battle for survival against a villain who is mad as a hatter. And the success of such stories, often depends on who you have playing the villain. Thankfully Caroline Faber delivers the good as Hecuba. To borrow a phrase from the people at Riff Trax, "I don't enjoy anything as much as she enjoys being evil." Faber plays this vampish villain perfectly in a way that feels very appropriate to the era, and thus makes this thoroughly entertaining.
The adventure has some great moments and I wasn't bored at all during the nearly two hour running time.
The writing was fair to good. Television couldn't have portrayed the disgusting nature of Hecuba's feast nearly as well as audio did. On the negative side, I did find a few parts of the narration to be a tad tedious. I get that the narration has its place, but at times we get Adverb-laden descriptions of how characters feel when how they feel is quite obvious and could be better expressed through voice tone.
Still, that was a minor complaint about what was a very fun story.