‘Black And White’ is the second in the series of three in the main Doctor Who range. The three stories are also complemented by a Companion Chronicle called ‘Project Nivana’.
Hex and Ace are rescued at the end of ‘Protect And Survive’ by the timely arrival of the TARDIS. But the white TARDIS is now black and it has new occupants.
As they meet their fellow travellers, both are disgusted by the obvious machinations and secrecy of the Doctor. Hex is ready to walk but is persuaded by Captain Sally Morgan (previously of ‘The House Of Blue Fire’) that he should stay.
When the four get split up, Hex and Sally arrive in a time where the Tales of Beowulf are being told round the fire. But Ace and Captain Lysandra Aristedes (previously of ‘The Forge’) meet the young Beowulf and learn the real truth behind the stories.
As these narratives weave together, we find out what the Doctor is up to, sort of. There are now both black and white TARDIS-es or TARDII?
This is a good second part of the trilogy and it doesn’t suffer from the Two Towers syndrome, there’s a plot, sub-plot and disappearing TARDIS to cope with and we even hear from the absentee Doctor, as it becomes slightly clearer why it now appears he has four companions who are alternating with each other.
It’s complicated and at this point everything is not obvious (relax, I’m sure the third episode will clear it all up, I think). The dialogue and interaction is both witty and emotionally relevant. In his absence, the heart does not grow fonder of the Doctor and he almost becomes the enemy, although the four battle to find out the truth, almost despite themselves.
There is real meat in this narrative and sometimes I did feel I should be taking notes. There is also an excellent villain, silkily voiced by Stuart Milligan (Nixon in ‘Doctor Who’) and it’s worth the price of admission for him as he usually gets the best lines. Ace (Sophie Aldred) is on top form and also gets to call people ‘beardy’, that always goes down so well. Hex finds a kindred spirit in Captain Sally Morgan (Amy Pemberton) and Ace trades jibes with Lysandra (Maggie O’ Neill)
Apart from wondering why we don’t see more on TV of the marvellous Maggie O’Neill, I also found time to ponder which clever clogs thought it would be a good idea to bring these four together. It is the amazing brain of Alan Barnes who devised the trilogy based on quite a few previous outings, which at first glance are not connected at all (that’s what I meant about taking notes). This episode is written by Matt Fitton who manages to tie up a script of timey-wimey stuff very well. I assume he used a mind map.
The last instalment is ‘Gods And Monsters’, in which everything will turn out to be a dream after too much stilton.
(pub: Big Finish. 2 CDs 120 minute story. Price: CD: £14.99 (UK), Download: £12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84435-944-8)
cast: Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred, Philip Olivier, Maggie O’Neill, Amy Pemberton, Stuart Milligan, Michael Rouse, Richard Bremmer, John Banks and James Hayward
check out website: www.bigfinish.com