THIS STORY TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE
TV EPISODES "COLD
BLOOD" AND "VINCENT
AND THE DOCTOR."
BBC AUDIO CD (ISBN 1-4
IN JANUARY 2011.
the TARDIS is drawn
to a Shinto shrine in medieval Japan, where ogre-like mannequins GUARD an ancient jade pyramid, so sacred that only monks may look at it.
the Shogun, the ruler of Japan, wants to possess the pyramid and has ordered seven samurai and a band
of soldiers to come
to Kokan and seize it.
Soon the secrets of the jade pyramid will be known...
The eleventh Doctor’s third audio exclusive adventure, The Jade Pyramid, sees the alien robot-filled world of the Doctor and Pond clash with the noble and distinctive culture of feudal Japan. Brimming with of Shoguns, Samurai, dispossessed Ronin and poisoned shuriken, Martin Day’s story is a veritable melting pot of genre staples that have been given a typically Who twist.
Narrated by incumbent Time Lord Matt Smith, like its predecessors the production strives to evoke the feel of a televised episode as much as it can. Murray Gold’s authentic title music bookends the piece, while the sound design ensures that the recounting is enlivened by evocative woodwind sounds and punctuated with scene-setting gongs. Much as he did when reading The Runaway Train, Smith effortlessly brings his own character to life here, but he nails Pond’s bawdy Scots brogue too, and seems to have tremendous fun different-iating between each of the emblematical Japanese characters that he’s required to voice. The results are mixed, sometimes bordering on caricature, but this is at least in keeping with the tone of the piece.
Indeed, The Jade Pyramid’s most ear-catching quality is its infectious playfulness. Day’s prose is wry and humorous – medieval Japanese farmers don’t smell dreadful, they smell of “damps cats and cabbage”. Outlandish similes are drawn using characters from popular culture such as Eeyore and Morrissey, and even the Doctor knows things deep down in his “hearts of twin hearts.” As well as injecting the proceedings with a real sense of fun, this remarkable approach makes the production incredibly accessible, particularly to younger listeners, who might not appreciate listening to the Doctor reel off passage after passage of beautiful but abstruse text. It also helps to highlight the differences between the world that we live in and the one being explored, particularly as the listener is often placed in Pond’s shoes as she is forced to understand the ancient things around her by comparing them to things from our time.
The narrative is almost wholly unremarkable though. We have a big green pyramid with a crashed alien vessel beneath it, whose pea-ceful occupants were promptly slaughtered by the locals upon arrival, leaving their robotic “ogres” with nothing to do but guard their ship. This is set against a backdrop of human vice, tax thievery and imperial intrigues - it’s like a cross between a Tom Cruise movie and a SEGA Master System game.
Educative, entertaining and thoroughly amusing throughout, The Jade Pyramid may not be a must for most of us, but it would certainly make a fine addition to the collection of any young follower of the television series. Take it at face value, and you won’t go far wrong.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2011
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
This audio book’s blurb offers no guidance as to placement. However, as the Doctor is trying to take Amy “somewhere nice”, as he’s still trying to do at the start of Vincent and the Doctor, then we posit that this story takes place in between the television episodes Cold Blood and Vincent and the Doctor.
Thanks to Eoin Flaherty
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