Written by Doctor Squee
Another boxset from Big Finish surrounding the 8th Doctor played by Paul McGann. With the events in the 4 Dark Eyes box sets having drawn to a conclusion, the 8th incarnation of our favourite Timelord is in need of a new mission. And so the scene is set for him and his companion Liv to meet the Eleven…
(some plot spoilers below!!!)
Part 1 The Eleven
A Timelord known at the Eleven has a fractured mind so he flits between all his different incarnations and he is quite mad. The 7th Doctor locks him up for the safety of the universe. But now in his 8th life the Doctor must help his fellow Timelords recapture this split personality foe. His mission is complicated when the Eleven takes Liv hostage.
Mark Bonnar (who Whovians may also remember from The Rebel Flesh / The Almost People) gives a stellar performance as the Eleven and really gives a distinct personality to all the different personalities and if that wasn’t enough of a challenge he doesn’t even use his native Scottish accent for any of them. The only time I have ever seen someone play so many characters so distinctly in in BBC 2’s Orphan Black (if you haven’t seen it, check it out). I honestly had to check to see if it was one guy playing all the personalities.
And what an idea to have a split personality time lord. As they say in the extras it’s one of those ideas that seems so obvious now someone has done it.
Part 2 The Red Lady
We are introduced to Helen Sinclair, a brainy lady who is subjugated for being a woman. Those around her don’t see her brilliance, but the Doctor quickly does, making her a natural choice to at the end of this adventure join the Tardis.
The menace here is a ‘The Red Lady’ Who appears in a collection of paintings. Those who see her in the painting as drawn to look at her and she seems somehow to be getting closer to them.
I get that in this box set that they are trying to have standalone stories that fit into a larger tale, but I felt like the original story with the Eleven gets lost here. The story of the Red Lady is good and brings to mind stories of Dorian Grey and other horrors of the genre, but in Dark Eyes, especially the earlier ones, you really got the feeling of a joined up story over reaching. I lost the original strand a bit here, only to lead to another strand involving Galileo, the subject of the next story…
Part 3 The Galileo Trap
It’s always fun when the Doctor visits a real historical figure and so it is when he comes to see Galileo. From the events of the last story the Doctor receives a message from Galileo, but when he finds him Galileo isn’t pleased that the Doctor has come as it puts him in danger.
The interaction between the Doctor & Galileo is awesome and the nods to a past relationship for them are great. A line about Galileo having taught him the recorder is a great nod to the second Doctor. I also like the way this weaves into real events from Galileo’s life when he was exiled to his villa for his scientific views.
Another great story but another loss as to the original story line we went into in Eleven.
Part 4: The Satanic Mill
In this conclusion to DC1 the Doctor closes in on the Eleven and finds himself on a floating Victorian factory in deep space.
This story involves a lot of Doctor Who Gallifreyan mythos. Bringing up Omega, the Eye of Harmony and so much else. Some of which feels a little busy.
My favourite part of this story is bringing back the Eleven to centre stage and showing what an awesome villain he is and how he could have easily carried the whole boxset alongside the great Paul McGann.
The producers in the extras tell us how they wanted stories that could stand alone and that this boxset should be something that people could just step into fresh.
For me they have made some mistakes here. Don’t get me wrong, each story of this box set is good, but they make me wish that they had done one of 2 things. Either (A) to have had 4 different stories in 1 box set (maybe with the 2 Eleven stories as a 2 parter) or (B) my choice would have been to have 4 stories that focused on Mark Bonner’s awesome Eleven character. He was the star of the boxset by a mile and I hope they give him more in DC2.
As to this being a boxset you could go into without listening to the Dark Eye saga? Maybe. They do have references to a lot of the events that go before, which are nice for the dedicated fans of Big Finish, but at the end of the day, the stories can stand up on their own.
All in all I give this one a 7 / 10. Great stories, just short on a strong thread for me, when one was right in front of them. Still looking forward to DC2!
Available to order now from Amazon.