THIS EPISODE TAKES
DWM COMIC STRIP
BIG FINISH CD#123
RELEASED IN JULY 2009.
THE DOCTOR RECKONS
THAT TARDIS travel
opens one's eyes to
aN ENTIRE universe of
possibilities. For geek
girl Izzy, it's also
a fantastic way to
track down ultra-
rare back copies of
Aggrotron!, the most
dangerous comic in
Oh dear. Everyone seems to really like this episode, but me. Perhaps I had too high hopes for it.
The eighth Doctor’s run of Doctor
Who Magazine comic strips is
one of my favourite eras of the
whole canon, and fangirl Izzy is
one of my favourite companions.
As such I was expecting something rather special from this one; perhaps something in the vein of the comical one-offs that the comic strip did so well during this period. Instead, we got a dreadfully unfunny pisstake of 2000AD.
OK, there are some good points – Jemima Rooper makes for a very
good Izzy. She’s not quite how I’d imagined her, but it’s an excellent
performance nonetheless. But she’s a caricature of Izzy, and she was
a bit of a caricature to start with. All she does is say ‘Top!’ and go
on about how much she loves her comic; there’s no hint of the great,
resourceful companion she is. It’s a shame, because the interplay
between Rooper and McGann here is great. The Trainspotting-style
opening is a lovely touch, and the general idea of aliens working on a
sci-fi comic has potential, but it’s thrown away on an unfunny runaround.
As Izzy might say: pants.
Copyright © Daniel Tessier 2009
Daniel Tessier has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
For me, it is Izzy’s Story that typifies what The Company of Friends is all about. Going into this episode with virtually no prior knowledge of the “funky geek-queen”, Alan Barnes’ enchanting Stockbridge caper has finally inducted me into the world of Doctor
Who comics and in particular the world of Izzy Sinclair.
Izzy is played here by Jemima Rooper of Hex fame, who according to her interview in the CD Extras narrowly missed out on the part of Rose in 2005. Whether Rooper would have made a good Rose or not I really couldn’t say, but she certainly convinces as Izzy. I love
the illimitable zeal and obsessive compulsion of the character; it’s the perfect counterpoint
to Paul McGann’s chilaxed cool.
“How are we going to stop the squads of fictional android henchlings who are
engaged in a hugely illegal covert intervention in the events of planet Earth?”
Izzy’s Story itself is every bit as quirky and comedic as the first two episodes of the release, if not a little more so. Barnes seems to have relished the opportunity to gently rip the piss
out of the comics that he so clearly loves, fusing a full-on nostalgia fest with a typically Who “wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey” plot. There is something inordinately appealing about travel-ling back in time to your youth to beat yourself to the last issue of a rare publication…
The episode doesn’t shy away from wallowing in the blatant fannishness of The Company
of Friends, either. The play is littered with in-jokes and metafictional gags - Barnes must have had his tongue squarely planted in his cheek, for instance, when he wrote the scene where Izzy tries to convince the disparaging Doctor of the merits of the ostensibly-lame ‘Aggrotron!’ comic and engage him as regards the mystery of Courtmaster Cruel’s true identity. This episode has certainly “got subtext”, as Izzy might say.
I’m also fond of this episode as Izzy’s life before meeting the Doctor brings to mind many aspects of my own in the mid-1990s. The Trainspotting homage dates the piece perfectly, as do references to “The Next Generation on VHS” and such like. In fact, the only thing missing was a bit of Britpop!
If only they could’ve got the rights to use Common People…
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2009
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
The second disc of The Company of Friends takes us back to the eighth Doctor’s
nine-year comic strip reign in Doctor Who Magazine, featuring the most beloved companion from that era - Izzy Sinclair (or Izzy Somebody…)
For those not familiar with Izzy, she first met the Doctor when she and Stockbridge’s UFO enthusiast Maxwell Edison stole an artefact that was being sought by his old enemy, the Celestial Toymaker, in the eighth Doctor’s inaugural comic strip End Game. Following the events of that story, Izzy joined the Doctor as his constant companion throughout his first two years’ of comic strips adventures. She has also appeared in a couple of Big Finish’s Short Trips anthologies, first in 2004 and again more recently in 2008.
Izzy’s Story, written by Alan Barnes, begins with a perfectly-pitched Trainspotting sequence before the opening music. It’s cool, self-assured, and funny, and the story only continues to impress from there. The story sees Izzy and the Doctor land in Stockbridge looking for a lost issue of Aggrotron!, the most dangerous comic in history. Barnes (who wrote Izzy’s debut some five years before he did the same for Charley Pollard) succeeds in bringing the feel
of the comic strip into this wonderful episode. If this story were ever to be animated, the episode ought to be accompanied by the artwork of Roger Landridge; that’d be a dream come true!
Onto the cast. Jemima Rooper (of Hex fame) is incredible as Izzy. From the Trainspotting intro mentioned above to the determination employed to find out about what has happened in the lost issue of Aggrotron!, Rooper really convinces the listener that she is Izzy!
Rooper’s interaction with Paul McGann’s Doctor is amazing; the Doctor’s amusing dislike of comics and the scene in the shop are both particularly well done. Steve Hansell pulls double duty as both old man Grubb and the comic book character “the Man” and it work wonders!
Furthermore, Teddy Kempner’s Grakk almost steals the show with his performance, and Courtmaster Cruel (Anthony Glennan) is actually quite scary at first (until we find out that
he’s actually a fan-boy, that is!)
Overall, Izzy’s Story is a great addition to The Company of Friends. Its mid-1990s dialogue, as well as Rooper’s wonderful performance, is sure to have you begging for more. Here’s to Big Finish using more of Izzy in the future!
Copyright © Kory Stephens 2009
Kory Stephens has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
As in this story Izzy and the Doctor seem very much at ease with one another, but Izzy is still distinctly fully human, we have placed it between the DWM comic strip anthologies The Glorious Dead and Oblivion.
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