With each go at the Twelfth Doctor that Jacob Dudman gets, the stronger his performance grows, and in Timejacked!, he does an absolutely brilliant job that should convert anyone whose interest is undone purely on if the original actor is not in the role.
Despite being an edition of The Doctor Chronicles, this is actually pretty much a full-cast release and features Dudman’s Doctor trying to undo a catastrophe in time with Kiera Sanstrom (played by Bhavnisha Parmar, who also portrayed Yasmin Khan’s sister in the television series) who has rudely barged into his study at St. Luke’s University and demanded he do her bidding so the mess in time (of her own doing) can be undone.
From the off, it’s fast and brilliantly directed. Sometimes, Dudman rushes a line in the first few pages, but he nails so many others and once he’s embedded back into the role it seems so naturalistic and multiple elements of the production are firing on all cylinders. The musical cues are really strong, particularly making use of the Doctor’s guitar at the very start to really suck you straight into Series 10, and the cold open does its job perfectly before the titles come in.
The opening episode then relocates to the planet of Calandra, and the Doctor and Kiera are dropped into a world with a guest cast that somehow does feel very of its series. Good job by the casting director there.
Peter Capaldi’s performance as the Doctor has a lot of natural humour in it, and Dudman brings that out very well, whether it be the sarcastic quips, the knowing remarks, or when rubbing his own ego.
So you’ve got a Doctor on top form and an interesting proto-companion in the aggressive but redeemable time agent Kiera, a very rich soundscape, a strong guest cast, and a whole lot of worldbuilding — it feels like a winning combination already. It’s a reminder that the Twelfth Doctor era still has so much potential to be used and enjoyed.
Calandra is populated by people who have doubles called ‘the confused’, created Heaven Sent-style with transmats making a copy of a person to move them from A to B, and who are being cleaned up off the streets by robots who are stealing time from those they catch. It’s grim, but perfectly doable for a tea-time TV audience, and particularly so when Matt Fitton’s script is buzzing with humour. Making Kiera a time agent, as Captain Jack Harkness was, provides the Doctor with plenty of material to use to seriously or jokingly criticise her, such as saying the agency needs an ego filter after she says she got bored with its usual tasks.
Kiera has a history with Calandra and is part of the problem of its ‘confused’, and while she proves to be a very good counterpart to the Doctor, it’s their dialogue that proves just why the Twelfth Doctor and Missy were perfect opposites for each other with their quips. Dudman nails this incarnation’s little intricacies, and there’s a great line about him listening to the shipping forecast, making this episode really, really enjoyable and almost in an unexpected way.
And at this point in the episode, not too much has actually happened. It’s not overpacked, so it’s allowing the script and performances to shine and make an engaging story. Eventually, the timey-wimeyness layers up with the ‘confused’, and the Doctor has to make some tricky decisions beyond being held to siege by Kiera, and the ending is a cliffhanger that means you have to listen to episode two.
The attempted repairs to time have done quite the opposite: in the next episode, we land on a modern Earth turned into a steampunk war world. The direction really sells the hodge-podge of time that has occurred, including 14th Century France, and Dudman’s Twelfth Doctor portrayal grows in strength as they zap through time and space locations. Ultimately, it all comes down to a showdown in the English city of Bath in 1813, where they have the opportunity to close the time fracture. It’s risky, and furthers the redemption of Kiera until another huge cliffhanger.
Episode three is a story that is far easier to do on audio than any alternate medium from a production point of view, but for listeners, it isn’t always the easiest to distinguish when two characters are the same as the ‘confused’ meet their originals. There’s also Kiera from two different times, and what initially plays as comedy — as it very much would if Clara got to see herself — then teeters on catastrophe for Calandra as space and time around them looks very different again.
One of the major tropes of this era was the Twelfth Doctor monologue, and Dudman gets to try one out about the use of guns. It fills just enough time because in the episode’s first half, there is a smaller scale to proceedings. The Doctor and Kiera try to find out where they are, to find out what’s gone wrong, to find out what they can do to help, and all while not falling on the wrong side of whoever is now in charge of the planet since “The Last Great Rearrangement”. Rather than The Pyramid at the End of the World, this is ‘The Cube at the End of the World’.
It’s mostly hinting towards a specific twist, given everything that’s occurred so far in the boxset, but then actually pulls out a totally different twist that sets up the chance of redemption for Kiera while also further explaining the absolute chrono-catastrophe she has been responsible for. How she handles that, and the outcome of her actions, will decide if she has the chance to appear in Doctor Who again, which this reviewer certainly wouldn’t be against the idea of…
The Twelfth Doctor Chronicles Volume 2: Timejacked! is out now from Big Finish.