Greetings good ladies and gents to the final installment of Big Finishing Move for 2016! This fine little series of mine is where you’ll find reviews of various audio releases from Big Finish. I can think of no better way to say goodbye to this garbage year (admit it, 2016 sucked) then with some fresh War Doctor adventures. Has Big Finish been able to keep building on this series into something a little different and darker from the normal Doctor Who fare or did they deliver unto us some weak tea? Strap in folks, and let’s find out!
TARDIS Team: The War Doctor and Various
Here we have three more tales set during the Time War. First we have the Cold War drama ‘The Shadow Vortex’ where the Daleks seek to bring the Earth into the Time War in Germany right after the building of the Berlin Wall. The rest of this set deals with the Sontarans trying to get into the Time War by kidnapping Cardinal Ollistra, the Doctor being pulled into the rescue mission and the fallout of that mission.
What I like most about these set of stories is how much they call out the arrogance and callous nature of the Time Lord High Council. The fact that they are operating in this war like it is some grand game of chess while the other Galifreyans (and the rest of the universe for that matter) sweat, bleed, and die has left a sour taste in many peoples mouth. This isn’t the first time the franchise has called out the High Council for its dickery, but it’s nice to see their actions come back to bite someone like Cardinal Ollistra in a direct and personal way for a change.
Usually when talking about acting, I like to focus on the performances I found the most interesting or emotionally compelling, however, I want to take a moment to talk about how unconvincing I found Jacqueline Pearce’s acting when she was supposed to be in pain. I have done nothing but sing her praises in my reviews of the other War Doctor stories, which is why I was surprised of all the actors she was the one that pulled me out of the story. It came off as hammy and over theatrical in a way that did not fit. I guess when your so on point with most of your other performance, anything less than perfect is going to stick out even more.
On the plus side of things was Nick Briggs as the Dalek Time Strategist. Just when you think the man has run out of ways to voice the pepper shakers of doom he finds a new spin on things to keep things fresh. The Time Strategist is a slower, more calculating Dalek and Briggs adopts a calmer almost purring tone when voicing the character while still keeping it 100% Dalek. A thorough description just doesn’t do it justice. It’s best to listen for yourselves.
This outing is just average. Part of my disappointment with these tales of the Time War is that they are rarely weighty enough. These are stories of battles and last minute ditch efforts, but they rarely feel as grave and dire as they should be. Since the Time War was first mentioned in the revived TV series, the Doctor has always spoken of it as the nastiest thing imaginable, and that it had left permanent scars on his soul. However, the War Doctor series mostly contains stories that aren’t even as dark in tone as some entries from the main series. What I want to hear are stories that live up to the damaged yet wiser war vet we see in scenes like this:
I want to be on the edge of my seat and it’s frustrating that this series never fully pulls the trigger and delivers the goods. This set does start to hit the right note in the third story, but by that point the whole thing is starting to wrap up. I don’t know if it is the BBC or Big Finish itself holding things back, but I wish they would knock it off. I understand that this is Doctor Who and that there are limits to how far you can go and still remain true to the spirit of the franchise, but I wholly believe that within those limits you can still tell stories that are a bit darker and be reminiscent to original show and Big Finish’s own extensive catalog.
Purchase The War Doctor Volume 03: Agents of Chaos Here:
As you are still here, let me take a moment to say we really appreciate you stopping on by. As your peepers are still scoping out this page, I think you might find value in checking out the rest of One Of Us for all the other great stuff we have to offer. We have reviews, podcasts, and even some audio dramas available, including a nifty sci-fi survival series called The Orphans.
Check out my previous reviews:
Phantasmagoria, The Fearmonger, The Light At The End, The Spectre of Lanyon Moor, Storm Warning, Blood of the Daleks, The Chimes of Midnight, Seasons of Fear, The King of Sontar, White Ghosts, Dark Eyes II, The Crooked Man, Project: Twilight, The Evil One, The Harvest, The Last Of The Colophon, The Council Of Nicaea, Destroy The Infinite, Afterlife, The Abandoned, Zygon Hunt, Revenge Of The Swarm, Philip Hinchcliffe Presents Box Set, Dark Eyes 3, Mask of Tragedy, The Fourth Doctor By Gareth Roberts, The Exxilions, The Darkness of Glass, Dark Eyes IV, Requiem for the Rocket Men, Signs And Wonders, Death Match, Suburban Hell, The Burning Prince, The Cloisters of Terror, The Acheron Pulse, The Fate of Krelos, The Shadow Heart, Return to Telos, The Sixth Doctor – The Last Adventure, Doom Collation I, The Yes Men, The War Doctor: Only The Monstrous, Wave of Destruction, The Labyrinth of Buda Castle, The War Doctor Volume 02: Infernal Devices, Doom Coalition 2, The Paradox Planet, Legacy of Death, The Tenth Doctor Adventures: Volume 1, Gallery of Ghouls, The Trouble with Drax, The Pursuit of History And Casualties of Time (dual review), Aquitaine, The Peterloo Massacre, Doom Coalition 3