Review by Jacob Licklider
Out of Time was a release that couldn’t have come at a better time: we were reaching the fall and the COVID-19 pandemic was still getting worse and lockdowns were getting to people and Nicholas Briggs brought together Tom Baker and David Tennant in an exciting adventure with the Daleks. It was a fun release and with David Tennant’s availability due to the pandemic being more available to record from home, two further releases were announced where the Tenth Doctor meets the Fifth and Sixth Doctor set to be released in June 2021 and 2022 respectively. Well, it’s June 2021, if only by two days and Out of Time 2: The Gates of Hell sees the Fifth and Tenth Doctors in Paris, 1944 facing off against the Cybermen in the Catacombs. There’s also a Time Agent calling herself grapefruit but French. This is a script from David Llewellyn and he packs a lot into a single hour, almost too much for a single story to do. As the title is ‘Out of Time’, the idea is that Cybermen have been using the Transit of Venus, whenever the planet Venus passes directly in between the Sun and another planet (in this story Earth, obviously). It’s actually a really interesting idea with a piece of alien technology from the Cybermen being sent back in time and essentially being put into the hands of aristocrats to weasel their way to survive. This is a Cyberman story after all and it just feels right, though if there is one big and glaring issue with the story is that they don’t actually feel like a threat.
This is a story whose focus is more on showing the character interactions between the Fifth and Tenth Doctors. For the first two thirds of the story they are kept separate which is a good decision and allows both characters to shine, as the supporting cast is incredibly small allowing for the Doctors to be the real focus. Peter Davison and David Tennant are both great once they come together as Llewellyn’s script ends up really invoking Time Crash and not having these two Doctors argue as is the case with other multi-Doctor stories is actually a stroke of genius here. It means that they can immediately work together and take advantage of the fact that there were only about twenty minutes left in the story before things needed to be wrapped up, cutting out several of the steps. Llewellyn also takes the chance to parallel the two Doctors, both portrayals which have been called the more human of the Doctors, though in very different ways. The Tenth Doctor is the Doctor after all who ended his life with the words “I don’t want to go” while the Fifth Doctor silently faced his regeneration although this time he was convinced this would be death.
The Fifth Doctor is much less brash than the Tenth and spends much of the story being the level headed one, discovering just what the Cybermen have been doing while the Tenth Doctor is trying to figure out what the Time Agent character wants. This is where the crowded plot does come in detriment, having the threads of the Cybermen being the Cybermen, the Cybermen using time travel to take over the world, several timelines being created, and the two Doctors just interacting means that this story is just a bit too much to handle. It’s still an excellent little story and actually more interesting than the first one, mainly because Shelley Conn’s Tina Drake makes a fun third element especially interacting with Tennant and Mark Gatiss playing a human villain is enough to add some genuine spice here. Ken Bentley’s flair for direction shines through and brings Llewellyn’s script to life with Nicholas Briggs providing a variety of Cyberman voices brings something different. Overall, Out of Time 2: The Gates of Hell is a great way to start the month of June from Big Finish Productions, throwing some great ideas together and David Llewellyn’s stellar character writing bringing together a great cast into a great, standalone story that may just be a perfect gateway into Big Finish as Out of Time was. 8/10.
You can get it on download or CD here: https://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/doctor-who-out-of-time-2-the-gates-of-hell-2296