I know I mentioned in the previous “Second Doctor Companion” story write-up that actress Deborah Watling passed away sometime after recording this story.
What I didn’t know at the time I wrote that was that this was the final time Watling got to play the Victoria character.
So, once again, since this is a companion story, the Doctor himself is more of a figure in the background as Jamie and Victoria do their thing. The focus is more on Victoria than Jamie, but the central idea seems to be to explore the relationship the two had.
That’s a good thing in my mind. Victoria’s final TV episode did feature Jamie’s looking rather glum after he and the Doctor left Victoria behind with a kindly couple in the twentieth century. Was there more to the relationship than what I saw? If so, it was rather subtle. Sure, the Doctor admitted he was fond of Victoria as well, but Victoria’s time on the TARDIS was generally one where she was often scared out of her mind. The talk at the end of the CD where the actors, writers, and producers discuss the making of the story, they do mention the Second Doctor’s time was one with a lot of monsters in it. Victoria didn’t do well with monsters, so she moved on.
So, is there a monster in this story? Well, yes, but the story also alternates between Jamie and Victoria’s narration, and the general impulse seems to suggest that Victoria, a woman who lived in fear during her time on the TARDIS, sensed that among the things that might have happened had she stayed on the TARDIS–a romantic connection to Jamie–was a distinct possibility, and that also scared her. Jamie was more of a big brother figure, and that feeling was mutual from the looks of things, with Jamie’s impulse being to protect Victoria more than anything else.
That makes a certain amount of sense. Victoria was supposed to be a fairly innocent young girl when she first appeared, possibly still a teenager, so she might have been a little too young for Jamie. Besides, that sisterly affection comes through here as there’s a framing device of sorts that is Victoria’s teaching Jamie how to read.
Anyway, the story goes that the TARDIS lands on a planet that seems to have defied all attempts of civilizations to live there despite the planet being more or less designed for that purpose. Apparently, stories themselves become lethal, and paper seems to come to life, fold itself into shapes, and attack people, even temporarily incapacitating the Doctor at one point. He had Jamie and Victoria wait in the TARDIS while he sorted everything out, explaining that they knew how to use the food machine and someone (the Time Lords no doubt) would be along to find them eventually.
But they don’t stay put, protecting each other as they go out to help the Doctor and a group of scientists who came from a planet where power is determined by how much people look you…my god, a planet run by Instagram Influencers.
Anyhoo, the story actually had a sweet ending. Victoria, in the present, had called the police to report a Scotsman in a Panama hat had been inside her home and stolen a piece of paper. That, of course, would have been the Seventh Doctor, someone Victoria didn’t recognize even as he knew her. It turned out he took a single piece of paper, one from the planet that she had as a souvenir and that might have become dangerous. But the Doctor did leave something: a letter from Jamie that he wrote to his one time travel companion.
So, the relationship between Jamie and Victoria? Close, but platonic. Ultimately, this was a sweet story, and I could get behind more like that since there are two more of these companion stories left.
And it looks like the next one has Zoe.
The Wheel Of Time “A Place Of Safety”
The X-Files “Blood”
Hunters “The Trial Of Adolph Hitler”