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24 May 2012

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Eddie Robson

RRP: £8.99

Release Date: 31st May 2012

Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 24th May 2012

Jamie McCrimmon is trapped. Trapped not only within a four wall cell but within several time streams and not all of them are in the right order. 

His interrogator, and at some points prisoner Moran is interested in The Doctor and his agenda towards the local alien race the Unhelt. Jamie maintains that the Unhelt are harmless and that The Doctor trusts them. But why does Jamie keep switching from prisoner to captor and why do the Unhelt seem to be the enemy he believed they weren’t?

It soon becomes clear that someone is playing a game with Jamie. But it seems that there are two more players than just the highlander and Moran. The mysterious Si is behind it all, informing The Doctor that Jamie is indeed part of a game and it is one that will guarantee his freedom, if he can put the pieces of the puzzle in the right order.

Jamie McCrimmon must now face a test not just of his own resources but of his trust in the Doctor as he may not be right this time around.

Big Finish has recently been experimenting with the format of The Companion Chronicles by releasing them as audio dramas rather than talking books. This can be seen in the recent release Binary and the same format is used here to great effect. The nature of the story allows the pace to be kept at a great momentum in the audio drama format and as a result the story never feels boring.

The Jigsaw War is an intriguing play and certainly not one for a causal listen. This story, with its jumping about in time at an almost disorientating pace, demands your attention. Part of the fun is hearing Jamie trying to figure out his escape route as we hear him in both increasingly desperate and relatively calm situations within the same room. 

Frazer Hines is superb as Jamie especially when he is on the defensive about The Doctor towards Moran. This story is again another opportunity to hear Hines’ uncanny impersonation of Patrick Troughton, this time given full credit as The Doctor and not Jamie impersonating him. When these moments come they are delightful as Hines really acts like the Second Doctor which lends it more authenticity than simply doing a heightened impression of Troughton. It is a joy to listen to.

Hine’s fellow cast member Dominic Mafham is terrific as Moran, particularly as the actor has to play the character at several points in a very disjointed timeline. These moments require many different emotional states which Dafham excels at. He makes for a wonderful straight sparring partner against the rough and ready Scot and the contrast is admirably brought to life by both Hines and Mafham.

Deep within the puzzle of the play are some very interesting questions about The Doctor that Moran raises to Jamie during their interrogations. These mostly concern the off audio Unhelt and The Doctor’s opinion of them. The Unhelt to Jamie and The Doctor are simply subjugated and oppressed by Moran’s people whereas Moran present s a plausible case that they are dangerous and his people’s methods in containing them while admittedly cruel do serve a greater purpose in keeping the peace between the races. It is suggested by Moran that The Doctor simply takes things on face value and sees only a small part of the picture without full possession of the facts. This does cause an interesting moral dilemma for Jamie but it is brushed away somewhat by the far bigger puzzle that is the main story.

When the conclusion comes it is rather abrupt and does not really leave the listener fully satisfied. However, writer Eddie Robson has been rather clever to design the story in such a way that when the story is over, a way is offered to the listener to hear the adventure in the correct chronological order of events. It is a clever twist and adds a great deal of replay value to the listener.

The Jigsaw War is an enjoyable Companion Chronicle despite some of the more intriguing ideas being swamped by the main narrative in whatever order you choose to listen to it. A recommended listen.

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