Review by Doctor Squee (Host of Gallifrey Stands Podcast)
In the latest two short adventures in this range from Big Finish the 8th Doctor in both is reunited with old companions in the shadow of the Time War. If these haven’t been released closed to each other, it’s a funny coincidence & a welcome one as these stories complement each other very well.
“A Heart On Both Sides” is read by Sarah Sutton as Nyssa. Since her work at Terminus Nyssa she has become a controller on the hospital ship Traken; which is parked close to Gallifrey in the shadow of the Time War. But the Timelords are not flavour of the month with most, even though Nyssa try’s to stay neutral. So when one of Nyssa’s staff is suspected of being a Time Lord there are questions to be answered, especially when things start going wrong on the ship.In “All Hands On Deck” Carole Ann Ford returns as Susan. Susan has been living happily in earths future after the Dalek invasion & is living in a house on what used to be Coal Hill School. But things seem to be on the up after the robot spiders attack along with other things going wrong. When Susan finds her Grandfather in this Eighth incarnation are these problems a coincidence and how does this all tie into problems back home on Gallifrey?
In both of these stories it’s interesting how they have the Doctor working in the shadows allowing for our two narrators to have stories told from their perspectives. In both cases it took me a while to see where the stories were going, but in each case it was satisfying how they did. They both end up being a comment on how the universe and the Doctor’s old friends have coped with the Time War and how the Doctor wants to protect them from the effects, if he can!
Lisa Bowerman directs both splendidly and the pacing gives time for the story to build but packs a punch at just the right time. This is also a credit to writers Eddie Robson (All Hands) & Rob Nisbet (A Heart). When you also think of where the 8th Doctor is in his story at both points, at one having lost his Great Grandson & at another feeling he doesn’t have a home, it adds an extra poignancy not directly commented on; but certainly evident.
This is the kind of thing Short Trips were made for. To tell a great character piece that complements the Doctor & companions involved. I give them both a well earned 9/10
You can buy “A Heart on Both Sides” on CD or download here https://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/a-heart-on-both-sides-1364
And “All Hands on Deck” here https://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/all-hands-on-deck-1365