From July 2009, Big Finish release 123 - The Company of Friends. Written by Lance Parkin, Stephen Cole, Alan Barnes and Jonathan Morris, and directed by Nicholas Briggs.
This is one of the regular releases which has four short individual stories instead of a longer multi-part drama. Four of the Eighth Doctor's companions introduce adventures they had with the Doctor. Let's consider them in turn.
Benny's story by Lance Parkin has the famous archaeologist Bernice Summerfield running into the Doctor while on a dig. Benny is a long running Big Finish character who was originally created by Paul Cornell in the Virgin new adventures books. This is a fast and furious adventure which involves a little jiggery-pokery with time travel to make it all fit. So fast that it sort of blurred past me. 2.5 stars and on to the next.
Fitz's story by Stephen Cole. Fitz Kreiner is another Eighth Doctor companion who originally started in a novel and this is his first appearance in a Big Finish story as far as I know. On the planet Entusso a new alien protection organisation is setting itself up a commercial business which is apparently promoted by the Doctor. Again this tale shot by me and probably needs another listen. Maybe It is because I have no familiarity with Fitz that it just seemed a blur. 2 stars
Izzy's story by Alan Barnes. Sticking with the theme of taking companions from other media Izzy Sinclair was the Eighth Doctor's companion in many of his comic strip adventures. Appropriately enough this story concerns Izzy's attempt to use time travel to secure a copy of the infamous missing last issue of Aggrotron, the most dangerous comic in the galaxy. Alan Barnes has edited the Judge Dredd Megazine and Aggrotron is a thinly disguised version of the greatest comic in the galaxy, 2000AD. Izzy desperately wants the last issue because it revealed the secret identity of the lead character Courtmaster Cruel, another thinly disguised nod to Judge Dredd whose face is never seen in the comic.
Izzy's story was a much more engaging story for me as a 2000AD fan, particularly as I am currently reading Thrill Power Overload - a history of the first 30 years of the comic. Izzy herself may be slightly annoying but the story is great fun. 3.5 stars
And finally, Mary's story by Jonathan Morris is the pick of the bunch. And it was the first Big Finish story I reviewed on this blog all the way back here. The way Morris introduces the Doctor to Mary Shelley and the other guests at the Villa Diodati while also showing her to elements of the Frankenstein story she will go to write is just fantastic. And it is backed up by the best all round cast of the four stories. Great stuff and still 4 stars.
Overall The Company of Friends averages out at 3 out of 5 precious back issues of Doctor Who Magazine. Next up will be some more 2000AD before I embark on the Key 2 Time.