The One-Day War Doctor returns in an impressive adventure ‘Dark Eyes 3’. Previously, the eighth Doctor has travelled with the unusual companion, Molly O’Sullivan, through time and space and an interesting set of accents.
Paul McGann’s non-cuddly but truly classic Doctor in every sense is in direct conflict with the Master who is newly fledged in this incarnation by the incredible Alex MacQueen who manages to exchange his sharpen tongue with the blunt and northern Doctor who tries again to understand what motivates his oldest friend and oldest enemy.
There are four episodes in this story and it would be foolish of me to try to sum up the epic adventures which cross the galaxy, time and space. The first, ‘The Death Of Hope’, opens when the Doctor is summoned by the Time Lords in the majestic person of Time Lord CIA Agent Narvin (Sean Carlsen) who offers apologies for the behaviour of Straxus but has his own agenda. He shows the Doctor a scenario where Earth colonists are being threatened by the Eminence and only the Doctor can save them but he wants to save Liv Chenka (Nicola Walker) and Molly O’Sullivan (Ruth Bradley), too. Is he going to spread himself too thin when the Master is already two steps ahead?
The Master has subsumed Molly O’Sullivan to his will and is using her in a long term plan that involves both the Eminence and the Daleks. The Time Lords also prove slippery with Narvin at the forefront with his smooth criminal style. Dr. Sally Armstrong (Natalie Burt) is still working for the Master but how long before she realises that her long term survival may not be at the forefront of the Master’s plan?
‘Dark Eyes’ has proved to be an excellent new venture for Big Finish. Its timing has been either beautifully planned or fortuitous as the eighth Doctor took such a significant role in the 50th Anniversary. There is a huge special effects budget and you won’t believe what can happen between your ears. You can jump in here as well without needing the backstory of the previous two series, however you will want to fill in the gaps. As the extras state, they have tried to really emphasise this is about the struggle between the Doctor and the Master and, in some ways, the actual plots are incidental although they proved to be full of ideas and momentum so we don’t feel we are listening to the Time Lords arm wrestle. Matt Fitton has taken on the writing duties from Nicholas Briggs and his dialogue is pithy and witty with some seriously pissed-off aliens making for some great exchanges. It must be great to write for the Doctor but even better to write for the bonkers Master, the plot he contrives for the Master really is spot on. Ken Bentley directs. With the locations from the colonies and back to Earth, there is a constant sense of movement and change. Liv Chenka is really brought to the fore in these stories and Nicola Walker wraps her immense acting chops around her role. Sally Armstrong, played by Natalie Burt, is also given some epic moments and her position as the Master’s companion is contrasted with that of Liv and Molly, who is not heavily featured this time around but we do get a few additional characters including Narvin (Sean Carlsen, last heard in Gallifrey) and Georgia Moffett as Engineer Tallow pops up as well. There are even some comic moments that will give you pause to giggle.
If you need to listen to a depressed Dalek then the extras will serve that purpose. As ever, the fifth disc is always worth a listen. ‘Dark Eyes 3’ proves there are plenty of ideas in the Big Finish pot and I think this could run and run.
(pub: Big Finish. 5 CDs 3000 minute story. Price: CD: £40.00 (UK), Download: £35.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78178-305-4)
cast: Paul McGann, Nicola Walker, Ruth Bradley, Alex MacQueen, Natalie Burt, David Sibley and Sean Carlsen
1: The Death Of Hope: Georgie Fuller and Geoffrey Breton
2: The Reviled: Sacha Dhawan, Sarah Mowat and Laura Riseborough
3: Masterplan: David Sibley and John Banks
4: Rule of the Eminence: Jonathan Forbes, Beth Chalmers and Georgia Moffett
check out website: www.bigfinish.com