Doctor Who Audio Review: Peri and the Piscon Paradox
Peri and the Piscon Paradox Review
Written by: Nev Fountain
Directed by: John Ainsworth
Featured Doctor: Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker)
Featured Companion: Perpugilliam “Peri” Brown (Nicola Bryant)
This week there were some big releases in Comics and there was even the premiere of the first episode of Doctor Who’s Twelfth Series… but I wanna talk about this instead. It’s another Big Finish Doctor Who Audio, belonging to the “Companion Chronicles” series, where actors who played Companions of The Doctor come in and tell essentially narrate a story from their perspective. There are variations on this theme, like the Companion Chronicle I previously covered (linked here) and today’s little audio, actually.
As the title says, this story is all about Peri, but if you look down a bit you might notice another name: Colin Baker AKA. The Sixth Doctor. So, if these audios aren’t meant to feature The Doctor, what’s up with this one? Well, I can’t actually tell you, but if you stick around you’ll probably want to listen to this one on your own. But first, the plot.
The 5th Doctor and Peri land in Los Angeles in 2009, searching for a criminal called Zarl, a Piscon (who are sort of like the Pescatons in many respects, just a bit less violent), who intends to steal all of Earth’s water. Now, if you know your Doctor Who, you are aware that Peri comes from the 1980s and she’s American, so naturally she almost instantly runs into herself, as a secret agent trying to catch Zarl. But does Zarl have any ulterior motivations? Will The Doctor be able to stop him in time? And, above all, can this Peri be trusted?
The problem with trying to review this story is that it heavily relies on surprises and misdirection, so if, at points, I sound a little vague, it’s because I want you to go listen to it with the least amount of spoilers.
Peri has always been one of my favorite companions for reasons I can’t quite explain. She’s not particularly brave or smart, she doesn’t have a distinctive backstory and she can be a bit of a screamer. So, why do I like her? Well, she has good chemistry with her Doctor, which counts for a lot, but I think she has a good sarcastic sense of humor and a certain charm that really work for me. This last bit comes courtesy of her actress, Nicola Bryant, who is maybe the only person to do a fake American accent that sounds fake, but is still really pleasant to listen to.
I’m focusing on her because, in “Peri and the Piscon Paradox”, she has to narrate, be two different versions of Peri and she has to act as every single other character in the story, apart from the Sixth Doctor.
Beyond her acting though, this is quite a tale. The story is divided in two halves, the first one from young Peri’s perspective and the second one from the older Peri’s. It sets itself up a weird little pantomime, almost a parody of a Doctor Who story, with this ridiculous villain, a lot of running around and a few jabs at Los Angeles which might hit or fall flat, depending on your persuasion. However, most of this stuff exists to gives a better understanding of Peri’s perspective on the world and the direction her life might take. The concept of having a character meet their future self is nothing new, but I’ve never seen it done in quite this way, where the fact that they’re meeting is almost purposefully sidelined for all the other madness.
The thing is… It’s all leading somewhere. I can’t reveal what happens, but I will say Nev Fountain pulled off an insanely careful tightrope act with this story. It’s difficult to balance drama and comedy in most things, so when you push the comedy to be as broad as it is and drama to be as affecting as it is, you are playing with fire. Yet, he does it. All the way through this story you’ll probably be laughing or smiling, but as soon as you get to a certain point, you will be fighting back tears and scarcily be able to tell where things changed.
“Peri and the Piscon Paradox” should, from premise alone, be a ridiculously stupid idea with inappropriate tone shifts here and there. What we get instead is a very funny and weird story, with real, honest and deserved pathos. It’s an interesting exploration of Peri as a character, and I didn’t even mention how the Sixth Doctor gets involved. Trust me, it’s worth it to find out on your own. I give this one a high recommendation, go on and read it.
Peri and the Piscon Paradox Review