Friday, 7 January 2011

Doctor Who The Four Doctors review

As you all know, I’m sure, The Doctor has met himself in the past (or future?) a number of times, and I think it’s fair to say that the results have been mixed.
The Two Doctors was a bit of a mess. The Five Doctors (which at least does have the Raston Robot!)  I have a considerable soft spot for, despite the many failings. Best of the lot (I’m not including the New Adventures novels or previous Big Finish here) is of course The Three Doctors, which succeeded in not only having a decent story, but also added a hefty amount to the mythos.

Which brings us to The Four Doctors.
The title is a wee bit misleading- not in a Five Doctors way (were thanks to either a huff or scheduling, depending on which story you believe, there were only four Doctors)- as the Doctors here don’t actually meet, apart from one short by utterly gloriously written scene.
Here we have a tale that is told along the Doctor’s time stream, with him encountering various characters and, it has to be mentioned, Daleks at various times in his past.
As an aside- for a guy who travels in time, the Doctor has had very few adventures that use time travel as part of the plot. One of the nice things about the new Moffat junta is the use of time travel, as seen brilliantly in the season finale adventure The Big Bang and the Christmas special.
And the nice thing about this story is that it is non-linear, so we have earlier Doctors meeting characters who have already been with him as a later incarnation. This should be a mess of confusing and hole-ridden plotting. Indeed, I thought I’d figured out a few mistakes in there, but on another listen, I was annoyed to discover that all of my questions had been answered in there. An awful lot of thought and planning has went into this story, and it’s a testament to the writer and editors that it not only holds together so well, but makes perfect sense and is easy to follow, some astounding techno-babble from the Fifth Doctor notwithstanding! I’d love to see the flowchart for this story, I suspect it would look like the average season of Lost, but have the added bonus of actually making sense
That sentence seemed like a weird way to end this review, so I’ll add another paragraph.
I keep talking about atmosphere in these reviews, and this one has it again, but the thing that struck me the most about is was, yet again, just how well and how effortlessly the four lead actors inhabit the role of The Doctor.
Yet another brilliant production from Big Finish.
By the way- I was amazed to discover, upon listening to the extras, that this adventure is not released for general sale, but is a subscriber only extra! I have to say that as 'free gifts' go, this is pretty brilliant.

Little Drummer Boy

This is another of the sort stories (Short Trips, as they are known) that Big Finish stick on to subscriptions.
This one features the First Doctor, Steven Taylor and Sara Kingdom and  and seems to be set just after The Daleks Master Plan.
It’s a fun tale, at least to begin with. It’s another Christmas set adventure which sees the characters skipping through various years, including a nice section at the Western Front in 1914.
I say to begin with, because the ending is an altogether darker affair. For me, the First Doctor has always been among the darkest of his incarnations and the conclusion of this tale, while logical and in a way inevitable, does nothing to convince me otherwise.

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