Monday, September 16, 2013

Review: Doctor Who, Destiny of the Doctor series

For the 50th anniversary year of Doctor Who, Big Finish Productions commissioned 11 stories, each featuring a different incarnation of the Doctor, tied together with an overall story arc. (Some of this is guesswork, as the last few stories have yet to be published.)

Each story is about an hour and most are narrated by one of the Doctor's companions. In each story, the Eleventh Doctor sends a message to his earlier self, making a request related to the story at hand. It seems clear that the Eleventh has problems of his own.

The stories are:
1. Hunters of Earth - Carole Ann Ford narrates the story, set in Totter's Lane and the Coal Hill School in 1963, and features Susan and the First Doctor.
2. Shadow of Death - Frazer Hines narrates and reprises his role as Jamie in this Second Doctor story (also with Zoe) set on a planet in the orbit of a pulsar. Hines does an uncanny imitation of Patrick Troughton.
3. Vengeance of the Stones - Richard Franklin narrates and is featured as a young Lieutenant (not Captain) Yates as he meets U.N.I.T. and the Third Doctor for the first time. The story is set in and among various standing stones of northeast Scotland.
4. Babblesphere - Lalla Ward is the narrator in this story, featuring the Fourth Doctor and Romana II, set on an Earth colony that is in ruins. The residents are so addicted to social networking that they've allowed themselves to become enslaved by the network's computer.
5. Smoke and Mirrors - Janet Fielding narrates the Fifth Doctor tale, with Tegan, Nyssa, and Adric joining Harry Houdini in an old fairground.
6. Trouble in Paradise - Nicola Bryant narrates and stars as Peri in the Sixth Doctor story in which Six gets a message from his future self, directing him to find and save an Omniparadox, which "contains energies capable of turning reality inside-out". I quite enjoyed the interaction between the Doctor and Peri.
7. Shockwave - Sophie Aldred narrates the Seventh Doctor story and plays Ace. The two arrive in the 49th century on a space station in the process of being evacuated from an oncoming shockwave. The Doctor has contrived to get them on the last spaceship out because, naturally, he has an ulterior motive.
8. Enemy Aliens - India Fisher narrates and plays Charley Pollard in the Eighth Doctor story.

Not out yet, but scheduled for release in September, October, and November, are:
9. Night of the Whisper, with Nicholas Briggs
10. Death's Deal, with Catherine Tate
11. The Time Machine, with Jenna Coleman.

Some of the stories are more compelling than others. I particularly liked the Third Doctor story. While I enjoyed the Fourth Doctor story, it needed more Doctor to it (and would have been great if Tom Baker had voiced the Doctor but, alas, none of the "Destiny" series uses any of the actors who played the Doctor). Nonetheless, they're all interesting stand-alone stories so far, and have whetted my appetite for hearing how the individual pieces relate to the final story.

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