Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor Chronicles – Timejacked! (Big Finish Review)

Timejacked! is a rousing three-part adventure through space and time, in the purest sense of the word. The second volume of Twelfth Doctor Chronicles visits alien worlds and alternate pasts, with a big, time-gone-wrong storyline and a charming pair of protagonists at its heart. As usual, these chronicles showcase Jacob Dudman’s interpretation of the Twelfth Doctor, and he is joined this time round by Bhavnisha Parmar as one-off companion Keira.

Earlier instalments in the Doctor Chronicles range were augmented by narration and featured a few returning characters and, sometimes, villains; Timejacked! is the second volume, after September’s Eleventh Doctor Chronicles, to go full cast and present a wholly original line-up of settings and supporting characters. More than anything, this allows Dudman to focus on providing an even more accurate performance, but it also opens up the story world in subtle yet exciting ways.

Flight to Calandra

Bhavnisha Parmar impresses from the off as the blaster-wielding Time Agent Keira, who barges into the Doctor’s office demanding to be whisked off to the planet Calandra for unknown reasons. Fast on the draw and just as quick in verbal riposte, Keira drives the narrative as much as, or even more than, the Doctor, in what is a promising opening gambit for the character. The interplay between the two has all the hallmarks of that unique Doctor-companion bond; the former has an earnestness that any incarnation of the Doctor couldn’t help but be drawn towards, while Keira learns a thing or two along the way by virtue of the Doctor’s beneficence.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Dudman does a simply uncanny rendition of Doctors Nine through Twelve. As on volume one, his take on Twelve has a lot going for it; the way he emulates Peter Capaldi’s intonation, use of pauses and other vocal tics is very clever. He’s helped by Matt Fitton’s script, which is tight, witty and pacey without being overwhelming. Fitton captures with skill both the Doctor’s flippancy and sarcasm, and his staunch morality and penchant for deep kindness.

By virtue of being the first of three linked episodes, Flight to Calandra functions as an introduction to the Calandra setting. Although the problem at this initial stage is fairly straightforward for the Doctor to solve – Keira has inadvertently triggered the mass duplication of anyone on Calandra who uses the teleport system, causing paranoia and confusion throughout the population – the episode ends with a revelation that shows just how interlinked these three episodes are.

Split Second

Split Second significantly escalates the threat introduced at the end of Flight to Calandra. A change in writers brings no disruption to the narrative flow, however, with Lou Morgan picking up where Fitton left off and pitching the Doctor and Keira headlong into a timeline severely fractured by Keira’s accidental interference in the timelines.

After finding modern-day Bristol significantly changed from what they know – hovercars fly through the air and a massive wall surrounds the city – the duo looks into the damage done to time with a trip to medieval France, where twentieth-century tanks roll across a battlefield of the Hundred Years’ War. Soon they embark on a time-hopping foray into the past and the future as part of an effort to fix the damage.

One of the big advantages of the Doctor Chronicles format, like The Companion Chronicles before it, is a generous focus on character. The limited cast on this release, too, works in its favour, allowing for fun moments like the Doctor’s encounter with a prehistoric woolly mammoth. Morgan captures nicely the Doctor’s tetchiness and Keira’s brash intelligence, letting Dudman run riot with his on-point performance. Some might be disgruntled by Twelfth Doctor stories being told without Capaldi present, but vocally speaking there’s very little to separate them – and considering this is audio, the voice is all we have to go off, meaning it’s surprisingly easy to forget someone else is in the role.

The Weight of History

A society changed; a new regime, and a new leader, installed; the population put under authoritarian rule, unable to speak out in fear of punishment: these are common enough tropes in fiction – not to mention real life – across Doctor Who and countless other properties. In its depiction of a timeline altered for the worst, though, The Weight of History is reminiscent of series ten’s The Lie of the Land and is in that regard faithful to this era of the Doctor’s life.

Lou Morgan’s second script for Timejacked! balances the light with the weighty. After we open with some fun hijinks over the sudden appearance of a second, identical Keira inside the TARDIS, the story shifts back to Calandra, which the Doctor and Keira (and Keira) now find under the rule of the seemingly immortal Founder Havilland (Holly Jackson Walters). Their mission to repair the tears in time off-world have succeeded, it seems, but the core of the problem remains. Jackson Walters delivers an (enjoyably) arch, OTT performance to a character who could easily come off as one-note; her exuberant energy makes Havilland a thoroughly entertaining part of the story.

Every so often, Dudman slips out of character for a word or two – and who can blame him, really, when voicing someone forty years his senior – but it’s rare enough that you quickly forget it ever happened. With his clear and abundant skill, Dudman will surely continue to have a long and varied career in voice acting, and not only in the Doctor Who sphere. This is no mere of approximation of Capaldi; this is a full-blooded embodiment of the character. Dudman also works well with Parmar, who brings a new rapport with the Doctor different from what we’ve seen, or heard, before.

Timejacked! represents a fresh new arc for the Twelfth Doctor during a period of his life when any distraction from his self-imposed isolation at St Luke’s University is a welcome distraction. Contained within these three stories is some decent character work and a thrillingly wide scope of storytelling, but more than anything Timejacked! is an opportunity to spend time with an incarnation who, even after just a few years off our screens, has already become a solid fan favourite.

Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor Chronicles Volume 2 – Timejacked! was released in November 2021. It will be exclusively available to buy from the Big Finish website until 31 January 2022, and on general sale after this date.

Extras

Accompanying the three stories is a seven-minute music suite – a fun, cheeky and thrilling sequence of tracks from Ioan Morris – and a separate suite of interviews for each episode. Producer Alfie Shaw prefaces these extras by sharing the relief he personally felt at being able to return to studio for the recording, a sentiment echoed with enthusiasm by Dudman. From there, Shaw breaks down the rationale for creating a single, three-part story that drew inspiration from classic Doctor Who serials, before Parmar and the other cast members share their thoughts on the scripts, the recording process and the joy of being part of Doctor Who at Big Finish.

Synopsis

The Doctor’s been timejacked!

Rookie Time Agent Keira Sanstrom needs the Doctor’s help, and she’s prepared to go to extreme measures to get it. Unwillingly whisked away from St Luke’s University, the Doctor quickly discovers that being forced off Earth is only the start of his problems… 

Flight to Calandra by Matt Fitton

The Doctor wants a peaceful afternoon playing guitar in his study. Keira wants the Doctor to take her from Earth to the planet Calandra. Reluctantly, the Doctor agrees. But when they arrive, Calandra isn’t how Keira remembers. Something’s gone very wrong…

Split Second by Lou Morgan

Oh dear. That wasn’t meant to happen.

The Weight of History by Lou Morgan

The Founder built their planet and their people from nothing. Their lives, and their very world, are dependent on the whims of the Founder. All praise the Founder.

Cast

Jacob Dudman (The Doctor)
Bhavnisha Parmar (Keira Sanstrom)
Hannah Genesius (Milla)
Charlie Hamblett (Vetch)
Holly Jackson Walters (Havilland)
George Naylor (Attis)
Harley Viveash (Pennou)

Production Credits

Music by Ioan Morris
Script Editor Matt Fitton & Alfie Shaw
Written by Lou Morgan & Matt Fitton
Senior Producer David Richardson
Cover Art by Caroline Tankersley
Director Helen Goldwyn
Executive Producer Nicholas Briggs & Jason Haigh-Ellery
Producer Alfie Shaw
Sound Design by Lee Adams

Suggested Listening

Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor Chronicles Volume 1
Doctor Who: Dead Media
Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor Chronicles Volume 2

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