..with a few quick bits of news from the WHOverse. A dopey computer crash sabotaged my planned review of the rather lovely DOCTOR WHO VAULT book - but look for that soon!
In the meantime…
MOFFAT SAYS “AT LEAST” 13 EPISODES FOR DOCTOR WHO SEASON/SERIES 8
I, for one, can not wait to behold a Malcolm Tucker Christmas.
BBC ISSUES POSTER ART FOR ITS ADVENTURE IN SPACE AND TIME ‘CREATION OF DOCTOR WHO’ DOCUDRAMA
And a new look at Jessica Raine looking so, so hot as Verity Lambert…
TALKBACKER V’SHAEL ON THE LIGHT AT THE END BIG FINISH AUDIO
User V'Shael here.
Since user HornOrSilk who normally does the excellent Big Finish reviews suggested it, I took a stab at reviewing the Big Finish 50th Anniversary release, "The Light At The End". There will be some general thoughts and comments, followed by a more spoiler filled review a few paragraphs in.
In brief - a loving if silly romp featuring all the classic series Doctors, in a manner that is somewhat similar to the Five Doctors though even less plot-heavy than that particular anniversary special.
In depth - Like with the Moffat penned "Day of the Doctor", I kept my expectations very low going into this show. A running time of two hours means there are obvious limits to how much "screen" time each incarnation can get. Throw in the fact that each Doctor and companion have to have some banter time for nostalgia sake, and you realise that what little plot there is doesn't really have much room to breathe.
On a technical level, the audio release is available in a 5.1 surround sound. This is relatively new for audio books. And it's played with to some very useful effect in this story, and not just for explosions and such.
There are surprises in the story, which some other reviews have spoiled but which I won't do so here. Guest stars you won't have heard about, voices you'll be surprised to hear. The end result is that fans of the classic show are given just about everything they could possibly have wished for as an anniversary present. While I definitely feel there were flaws (it's a far from perfect episode) I would rank it up with The Five Doctors, The Three Doctors, and a good bit away from The Two Doctors and god help us Dimensions in Time. All of the actors throw themselves lovingly back into their roles, and none of them sound like they are too old or too unfamiliar with the part.
Plot : 4 / 10
Direction : 8/10
Acting : 9/10
Overall score : 7/10
And now, some spoilers.
I think it's possible that since so many Doctor Who fans are pedants about the minutiae of the show, that your enjoyment of this adventure will depend very much on what sort of fan you are. If you visibly winced at the start of the Doctor Who TV movie, where you heard the Master was put on trial by the Daleks, or worse scoffed aloud at the inherent implausible idea therein... if you heard the Daleks in Asylum had a Parliament and a Prime Minister and several expletives of disbelief worked their way towards your vocal cords... then the plot line for "The Light At The End" may seriously strain a facial muscle or two.
The Celestial Intervention Agency is not a new concept in Doctor Who. And nor is the idea that the Time Lords can (in extreme circumstances) ally themselves with The Master. But the circumstances as revealed in this tale stretch credulity more than a little.
The writing doesn't flow as well as it could have or should have, I think. There is one glaring stand out moment for me, where one character goes from shock to funny in two lines, which is really jarring. And to me that shows the seams in the writing, where plot met with the necessity for comic moments and characters who are known to be snarky to get a chance to be snarky. Too many competing directions for the writing to be pulled in.
The alien race The Voss, are a mass of contradictions. Capable of "selling" weapons to the Daleks? Capable of creating weapons that are at least on a par with anything the Time Lords could create, and yet this race is unknown to the Doctor? So many things that stretch credulity to the breaking point.
A very nice surprise is that the first three incarnations also feature in the story (though in a way that's very different to the opening few minutes of 'The Day of the Doctor') and it is astonishing how large a role they have to play in the episode. It's beautifully done and was one of the nicest unforeseen aspects of the story for me. A quick overview of how each of the doctors are utilised then:
Tom Bakers Doctor is paired with Leela initially, before being paired with Paul McGann. It's a great pairing, though it's also one of the only parts in the episode where the writer fails to capture the dialog of the Doctor in just the right tone. I don't think this is Tom's fault, I think he does the best with the flippant lines he's given.
Peter Davisons Doctor is paired with Nyssa, who appears to be part of the audio post-Terminus continuity. They get involved with the human side of things, displaying sympathy to the immediate victims of the Masters plot.
In many ways, I think this is Colin Bakers episode. His incarnation provides much of the thrust, much of the commentary, much of the investigative prowess. If you're really not a fan of his incarnation, this might be a problem for you. It wasn't for me. He is paired with Peri, and this adventure occurs at some point after the Two Doctors.
Sylvester McCoy's Doctor is paired with a young Ace, and has a great deal of interaction with Colin Baker and Peri. Indeed, Sylvester gets one of the few scenes where a Doctor meets a previous companion and is rather melancholy about these people from his past. In a way, it brought me back to the way Peter Davison totally didn't react as expected to reuniting with Susan in the Five Doctors.
Paul McGann has very little to do, and probably gets the least to do of all the Doctors, though he gets some lovely banter with Tom Baker.
To sum up - Get it, enjoy it, don't expect too much from it. It services its needs though.
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