Doctor WhoMusic/Audio

New Eighth Doctor Box Set 1: Doctor Who – Dark Eyes by Nicholas Briggs (cd review).

After the terrible events of ‘To The Death’, it’s hard to see where the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) could be going. As he realises he impacts so heavily on people’s lives, there can be nothing but despair to follow. But in a marked contrast to the way the Eleventh Doctor reacted to loss, the Eighth still seems to care about the individual and is much less brittle than his later incarnation. He also ends up in Earth’s past but he has come on a mission, to find ‘Dark Eyes’ with only the small matter of the Western Front to negotiate. There’s even a Wilfred Owen quote in there to spot.

Molly O’Sullivan (played by Ruth Bradley) is a volunteer nurse. It’s the First World War and there’s gas in the air. When a strangely dressed man comes into the nursing stations suffering from its effects, she is eager to help him. How is she to know it’s her he’s come to find?

Molly’s special and somehow connected to a terrible plot that will affect the whole of the universe. Even within the chaos of the First World War, there is something deeper and more sinister surrounding our dark-eyed Molly and it’s the dreaded Daleks behind it.


Part One: The Great War does contain some great period detail and everything is skilfully meshed together by the sound design and music by Andy Hardwick.

With a plot reminiscent of ‘The Chase’, the Doctor and Molly escape across time and space as the Daleks follow. As the scenarios change, in Part 2: Fugitives, we get to know a little more about Molly and dig into the fiendish plot. As this is also Time Lord territory, we get Peter Egan as Straxus, Tim Treloar as Lord President and Toby Jones as Kotris. Alumni from classic Doctor Who, Ian Cullen also features as Nadeyan. Epic actors for the epic scale. It is also written and directed by Nicholas Briggs, aka the busiest man in audio.

With the final Parts 3: Tangled Web and 4:’X’ and the Daleks, we get to the core of the Doctor’s mission and finally find out about Molly. Along the way, there are some lighter moments and some banter between the new companions is excellent with Ruth Bradley’s Molly more than up to the challenge.

There are four stories in this collection and I like this trend of bringing the whole thing as a boxed set. There is an also a whole disc of behind the scenes interviews and explanations. The scale is nice and large and feels cohesive, if on occasions a little fast and confusing. This is an enthusiastic response to the continued adventures of the Eighth Doctor with a real desire to fill out the one incarnation that was unfortunate to be never given time in the TV series. McGann’s Doctor is one that does not come across as devious and manipulative but genuinely tries to make sense of his relationships with humans, not treating them like his previous personification, he was prone to concentrate on the bigger picture forgetting the personal.

Despite the cover photo of a new McGann costume, there is no actual moment of change for him. It’s all explained in the extras as it was down to the change being endorsed by the BBC and the McGann coming in for a photo shoot pretty much after the story had been put to bed. I like the implied movement, something the Doctor have been denied in the past with the almost freakish insistence of keeping them pretty much in the same outfit for the whole tenure. Its true nobody ever admitted to like McGann and that wig, so it is great to see the Doctor being reclaimed from those nasty Americans.

This has proved to be a great return for the Eighth Doctor and with its combination of historical setting and jaunting through the space-time continuum, it still manages to convey the human interactions that form the basis of all good adventures. Clocking it at nearly five hours this is an ambitious drama series and hopefully more will follow.

Sue Davies

(pub: Big Finish. 5 CDs 300 minute story. Price: CD: £40.00 (UK), Download: £35.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84435-977-6)
cast: Paul McGann, Ruth Bradley, Peter Egan, Toby Jones, Tim Treloar, Ian Cullen, Laura Molyneaux, Natalie Burt, Jonathan Forbes, Alex Mallinson, Beth Chalmers, john Banks and Nicholas Briggs

check out website: www.bigfinish.com

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