CAPSULE REVIEW | The Early Adventures: The Home Guard

While visiting his old friends Jamie and Polly in the quaint English village in which they live, Ben Jackson becomes suspicious of the Doctor, an imposing, standoffish man who commands the Home Guard. As an evil enemy launches a catastrophic air raid on the village, Ben, Jamie and Polly fall in with a man who knows that this mysterious Doctor cannot be trusted. The Master will stop at nothing until the Doctor is defeated… and Ben, Jamie and Polly will obey his every nefarious command.

Right from the opening scene, which sees an unfortunate traveller brutally murdered by the Master on a darkened country lane, The Home Guard is a delightfully atmospheric story, all foggy English villages and sinister figures moving about in the dark. The first two parts are leisurely paced, really setting up the mysterious situation the TARDIS team have found themselves in, which means it’s almost a shame when the actual plot kicks in in the final half.

Elliot Chapman is the star of the show here, portraying lots of different sides to Ben, from his naive denunciation of the Doctor in the first half, to his earnest denial of the Master in the second. Anneke Wills also impresses, bringing Simon Guerrier‘s evocative prose to life as the story’s narrator, while Frazer Hines is excellent as usual in his dual role as Jamie and the Second Doctor, being particularly effective at portraying the latter’s darker sides, which are on full show here.

Meanwhile, the Master as a villain is effectively written and portrayed (and it’s great to hear him interact with a Doctor and companions he’s never encountered before), while Molly Hanson and Brian Murphy are compelling, if a little one-note, as villagers Jill and Robert.

Overall, The Home Guard is an atmospheric and interesting story which could perfectly fit into the late 60s era of Doctor Who it’s trying to emulate. Though its latter half isn’t quite as good as its first, this is a strong release from start to finish. Highly recommended.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Home Guard is available on CD or as a download from http://www.bigfinish.com

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