by Z. P. Moo
When you try to figure out who are among the most important figures in human history you tend to get a lot of the same names regardless of how many people you ask. Common choices tend to include your great leaders like Julius Caesar and Henry VIII, scientists like Einstein and Newton who revolutionised how we understood the universe and our place therein, maybe some more unusual but nevertheless valid answers like Hitler might show up, and so on.
by George Wellard
Can you redeem the irredeemable?
This is the question Boom Town ponders over. While still taking the time to make gags, show off the brilliance of the TARDIS team of Nine, Rose, Jack and Mickey and explore the mundane yet wonderful city of Cardiff, beneath the surface lies a war of morality and what it takes to earn redemption.
by James Blanchard
Steven Moffat’s “Extremis” is one of the few episodes of Doctor Who ever to illicit a physical reaction from me. I spent every minute, of the last ten minutes, saying “oh noooo” as the truth of the story was revealed. I spent another ten minutes just thinking about it afterwards, not because it confused or annoyed me, but rather I was amazed at the sheer amount of philosophical critique and content poured into such a short amount of time.
“Extremis” is one of the most overtly philosophical Doctor Who stories ever – in fact, the whole episode acts like a critical timeline of the practice. The story starts in the Vatican, in the ancient, classical world, dealing with classical philosophy of essence and ethics; it ends in the Oval Office, in the modern (or even post-modern) age, with the characters facing the harsh reality of a staggeringly indifferent world. To me, “Extremis” was a fascinating exercise in the use of the Doctor Who universe and its characters to describe how it can be possible to live a good and virtuous life in an ultimately existential universe.
by Ruth Long
“How do you get into a Dalek’s head?”
Steven Moffat is known for finding new and creative methods of exploring a monster almost as old as Doctor Who itself. The unnerving corruption of the nanocloud, the horrific Dalek sewers, the revelation that their own casing is built to censor and distort the words and intentions of the being inside. But perhaps most intriguing is his use of the Daleks in relation to his characters, and one specific character in particular. In her duration on the show, Clara Oswald has been placed within a Dalek shell no less than three times. On each of these occasions the circumstances have varied greatly, yet there’s something rather fascinating about such an unusual recurring theme, and even more so the curious manner in which it’s consistently framed.
by Z. P. Moo
After the financial success of the first series of Dark Eyes it was hardly a surprise when Big Finish commissioned a follow-up boxset and so along came the creatively titled Dark Eyes 2. For this release Big Finish went more into the extensive back-catalogue of their Doctor Who stories and brought in a few more familiar elements alongside the 8th Doctor and Molly O’Sullivan.
One of these returning elements is the character of Liv Chenka, played by Nicola Walker, returning from an encounter with the 7th Doctor that was seen in the Monthly Range story Robophobia. Another thing to return to Doctor Who there is the Eminence, a universal gaseous consciousness that the 4th and 6th Doctors had both encountered – the Doctor’s previous confrontation with it had ended with a dormant piece of the creature inside his head (this will be a major plot point later). We also have some giant robots call Viyrans, which had featured in a handful of other releases. But the biggest headline has to be that Alex MacQueen’s Master is back. Following an acclaimed debut in UNIT: Dominion (he’s undoubtedly the highlight of that story), it was only a matter of time before he showed up again and this time we get some context as to where he fits into the timeline of that character. I don’t want to get into review mode here, since I’m aiming to analyse and not review, but he is so damn perfect for the part that whoever decided to cast him should be given an award. Anyone who has seen him in literally anything he’s ever been in would surely have had him pegged as a candidate for playing the role, and he totally delivers.
I’ll save more of my gushing praise for his performance until we get to Eyes of the Master and pretty much everything in Dark Eyes 3, but why do I draw attention to these things now? Because by including them Big Finish give a statement of intent: “Dark Eyes 2 is going to be a much bigger story, the stakes are higher, and it’s more connected to the wider canon we’ve created.” One might argue that by your saying this you’ve set yourself up for failure, but we shall see.
by Z.P. Moo
Dark Eyes, or Dark Eyes 1 as it’s retroactively known, picks up the pieces where the finale to Big Finish’s Eighth Doctor Adventures (EDAs) left off. Where that set ended the Doctor has just lost some friends. Not only have two companions, Lucie and Tamsin, been killed during a fight with the Daleks but also his great-grandson Alex. There are arguments you could make that this is a serious case of fridging and I won’t really bother to argue because that assertion is probably and unfortunately correct. But that’s not really what I’m here to talk about, if you want me to go off on one about why the practise of fridging is bad then you’ll have to wait for my analysis of Dark Eyes 4’s finale, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
The cover debuts a new look for this incarnation suggesting he has moved on to a new chapter in his eighth life. Gone are the long flowing hair and the Lord Byron ensemble, in their place come a more practical shorter hairstyle and a leather jacket, the latter of which will be a mainstay for the two incarnations that follow this one. Is that a deliberate choice of foreshadowing? Although the War Doctor was still unknown to us at this point we cannot say the same of the Time War. From his new costume alone we can see that the Doctor is growing closer to what he shall become during the Time War. And there are indeed hints that such a conflict is on the horizon, which we shall see as we go on through the Dark Eyes saga. You could accuse me of reading too much into it, but the point of the new look for the Doctor is clear enough: He’s just learned the hard way that the universe doesn’t play fair and after the tripple-whammie of To The Death he’s had enough. This is where we pick up the story in the opening entry, The Great War.