Doctor Who: The Perpetual Bond Review

DW The Perpetual Bond

Kicking off the “Audio and comic companion debut marathon” is the only black and white era new companion to be introduced (unless you include the very old comics from TV Action, but I don’t have access to that stuff, so… sorry!), that being Oliver Harper. Creating a new companion for the First Doctor was met with wide raising of eyebrows, but it’s pulled off well in this trilogy (the other two parts of which I’ll get to down the line…) So let’s have a look at The Perpetual Bond, not only the first in this marathon, but the first Companion Chronicle I’ve reviewed!

Official Synopsis:

When the TARDIS materialises in a familiar junkyard in the 1960s, the Doctor and Steven are soon embroiled in a mystery in the City of London. Who are the mysterious, bowler-hatted businessmen with their deadly umbrellas? What secret is young Oliver Harper desperately trying to conceal?

Contracts have been signed. A deal is in place. The Doctor discovers that perhaps not even he can stop a terrible business…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

Steven Taylor (Peter Purves) – Steven is fresh off of a horrible, death-filled Dalek epic and wishes to unwind… I guess 60s London is as good of a place as any!

Oliver Harper (Tom Allen) – Oliver has a secret he’s tried his best to keep from the authorities, but they’re on to him, and he needs to escape… oh and his employers appear to be mushroom people from outer space, but who cares about that?!

The Doctor (William Hartnell’s incarnation, via Narration) – The Doctor has been dealt a serious blow by seeing a trusted companion age to death before his eyes in a matter of seconds. He needs to unwind, so maybe a return to where this all started is just what he needs!

The Fulgurites – Mushroom-like alien race who deal with human trafficking with the full backing of the British government, who are still financially recovering from the end of WWII…

Plus more!

The Good:

DW The Perpetual Bond Cover

A nice cover, though I do normally prefer the covers in colour, even if it’s from the black and white era…

The period this story takes place in, directly after The Daleks’ Masterplan epic, is interesting. Both Steven and The Doctor are still reeling from Sara Kingdom’s death, so the idea of taking on a new companion so quickly is an odd one, but this story does it well. The duo, who haven’t reached the more unpleasant bickering we see in the TV follow up to Masterplan “The Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve”, I think end up seeing Oliver as a “second chance”, though one that nicely ties into Massacre by the end of the trilogy…

The thought of the British government turning a blind eye to some extra-terrestrial human slave trafficking because its netting them some much needed money is a sadly believable one, well, as in the government being willing to do it, not that it’s believable aliens have set up shop in the London trade market…

As per usual with more narration-heavy stories by Simon Guerrier this is a very well written story, very descriptive prose and the two actors do a good job with it…

The Bad:

All that being said, and I hate saying this, but I just find the story really dull. This is the second time listening to it, and I couldn’t really remember what happened the first time because I was so bored then, and this time, once again, my mind started wondering somewhere in Part 2. I don’t know why, either, because it is well written and acted, but I just struggle to stay interested with it on. This is not a reflection on Mr. Guerrier or the actors, but… I don’t know, it just doesn’t hold my interest.

Oliver Harper’s big secret is possibly teased a little too much, and a bit too fourth wall breaking at some points. “They must never know: MY SECRET!” Not a major complaint, and the pay-off later is good, just a little thing I noticed this time round.

The Continuity:

DW The Perpetual Bond Cover Textless

It’s the clean cover art! Saw it on the TARDIS wiki and thought “Why not?” These audios tend to be lacking in pictures, so…

Several call-backs to the just-having-happened “Daleks’ Masterplan” aside, there are several mentions of Ian and Barbara’s exit from “The Chase”. Also the TARDIS arrives in I.M. Foreman’s junkyard, the same place it was located in during the very first story “An Unearthly Child”, as well as in Sixth Doctor TV story “Attack of the Cybermen” and Seventh Doctor TV story “Remembrance of the Daleks”.

Steven mentions a previous visit to London, which is a reference to another Companion Chronicle “The Suffering”, rather than “The Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Eve”, which as already mentioned, happens after this trilogy of stories. Speaking of this trilogy of stories, it continues in “The Cold Equations” and ends with “The First Wave”.

Overall Thoughts:

The Perpetual Bond is a good introduction to Oliver, and it’s well acted by the two voices present, but I’ll put my hand up and say “For reasons I don’t really know, I found this story really boring”. I hate saying that, because I know deep down it’s well written and good, but for me personally, I have to mark it down a bit for not holding my attention, for whatever reason…

3 Star Listen

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