Having long since been parted from the Doctor and Zoe, and back on Earth in the highlands of Scotland, Jamie McCrimmon recounts a story of a visit he and the Doctor once paid to an orbiting resort called Helicon Prime, located in an area of space whose tranquil properties soothe all the vacationers who visit there. But moments after the TARDIS brings them there, one of the resort’s clients is murdered. When the Doctor tries to find out why, he inadvertently brings himself to the attention of a highly-placed ambassador whose dealings on Helicon Prime are shrouded in mystery. When other vacationers die, one by one, the Doctor swings into action and makes himself – and Jamie – the next targets of the killer.
Cast: Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrimmon), Suzanne Procter (Mindy Voir)
Timeline: sometime around The Two Doctors and before Spearhead From
Review: In my review of a previous Doctor Who Companion Chronicles release set during the Troughton years, I praised Wendy Padbury for her uncannily well-observed impersonation of the second Doctor. That was just a warm-up, though – Troughton’s other co-star, Frazer Hines, has Patrick Troughton’s vocal mannerisms, nervous tics, and even his voice nailed. Perfectly. It’s positively eerie. Allow me to present Frazer Hines as the second Doctor Who.
The story isn’t bad, though I have the same basic criticism I had of Fear Of The Daleks – it just doesn’t really feel like a story that would’ve taken place in Troughton’s era – but that’s all a matter of taste. What Helicon Prime does excel at is presenting an Agatha Christie-style murder mystery for the second Doctor and Jamie, in a setting that seems more akin to Colin Baker’s era. The two time travelers are still flying solo, placing the story somewhere around The Two Doctors or possibly in what fandom refers to as “season 6B”, of which you can find a more concise explanation than I could ever manage here. (It’s not uncommon for fan chronologists to place The Two Doctors within “season 6B” either; some Past Doctor novels have taken place during this apparently lengthy stretch of unchronicled-on-TV adventures as well.) The plotting of Helicon Prime is fairly straightforward, though there is a nifty little sting in the tail at the end to keep you on your toes.
In the CD Extras section after the story, Frazer Hines talks about how the writer of Helicon Prime seemed to have a good handle on the character of the second Doctor, and I can’t really disagree. But the gold really goes to Hines himself on this one – his vocal impersonation of Troughton is startling, and I could’ve sworn to God that I was hearing the two of them in the studio together. For many years, in the early days of Big Finish Productions’ web presence, there was a FAQ page which stated that under absolutely no circumstances would Big Finish entertain notions of casting David Troughton or Sean Pertwee in their fathers’ roles, out of respect to both generations of actors. I always thought that was the wisest, most tasteful decision they could’ve made. But I’m pleased that they loosened things up enough that we could get Frazer Hines’ performance on record here – it’s amazing stuff. Fans of the Troughton era really owe it to themselves to listen to this one.