It might not be the last Doctor Who Companion Chronicle, but The Elixir of Doom is my last Companion Chronicle, as I haven’t been following the Zoe strand, which means I’ll be skipping its and the range’s finale in Second Chances. The Elixir of Doom is perhaps an atypical way to see the range out, but the Companion Chronicles at their best were always atypical. Paul Magrs’s story picks up from the end of his previous Find and Replace, with Jo Jones and Iris Wildthyme having adventures together — both of them played with panache by Katy Manning, of course.
Sometimes their narration is a little interchangeable, unfortunately, but I never had trouble telling their dialogue apart as Jo and Iris try to get used to each other — Jo expects Iris to be a bit more Doctor-like, and Iris is a little offput by Jo’s insistence that they be fighting evil all the time. To add complications, the Doctor himself is around somewhere in 1930s Hollywood, and Iris is pretty sure Jo oughtn’t meet him (though perhaps for reasons more selfish than she’d like to admit). All three of them are investigating mysterious monsters in the mansion of a Hollywood star.
The Elixir of Doom is fun, and that is perhaps the most you can think of it. There are some interesting ideas, but they feel skirted around; the real bulk of the story rests with the main characters’ battle with the actress and her husband. Jo shines best of all: this is the compassionate, brave Jo I didn’t always appreciate on television but have grown to like in Companion Chronicles and Lost Stories. Katy Manning is, as always, an absolute delight — Big Finish had stretched her abilities in a way her television appearances never did, and this story continues to do that. On the other hand, it feels like our protagonists have little to do with the resolution, and aspects of the plot repeat Excelis Dawns over again.
Light and fun, though perhaps sometimes too light, this is a nice bittersweet note for the Companion Chronicles to strike at the end of their nine-year run.
The Elixir of Doom (by Paul Magrs; starring Katy Manning) was released by Big Finish Productions in May 2014.