TV & Radio
CD review: Doctor Who – Dark Eyes 2
REVIEW: (Big Finish Productions)
When Doctor Who executive producer Steven Moffat recalled Paul McGann to play the eighth Doctor’s regeneration the internet went wild.
The seven minute mini episode, The Night of the Doctor, went online in November a few days before the 50th anniversary special The Day of the Doctor and was a great unexpected prequel to that Doctor Who love fest that followed.
Up until then McGann had only played the Time Lord on screen once in 1996, in what became known as the Doctor Who TV Movie, although he had loaned his vocal talents to Big Finish Productions several times for Big Finish audio adventures.
The four episode long Dark Eyes won Best Online Drama at the BBC Drama Awards 2014 so it’s no surprise that producer Nick Briggs should recall McGann for the series’ sequel, Dark Eyes 2.
The only way to describe the original four part Dark Eyes story is epic, as McGann’s Doctor stumbles upon a plot to destroy the universe involving the dastardly Daleks and an Irish World War I trenches nurse named Molly O’Sullivan. O’Sullivan is the girl with the said dark eyes who can’t help calling the Tardis the “tardy box”.
Both the Daleks and O’Sullivan return for Dark Eyes 2. But O’Sullivan (Ruth Bradley) fans will have to wait for Dark Eyes 2 - Part 2: The White Room by Alan Barnes for her to rejoin the Doctor as his companion.
Since Part 1: The Traitor, by Nicholas Briggs, is set after the other three parts, it’s linkage to them is somewhat confusing, and deliberately so. Briggs, and his co-writers, are banking on their listeners having some intelligence and counting on them to return to this series for more airings until all the plot twists and turns are familiar.
In that respect Dark Eyes 2 is very much like a modern Doctor Who story from the pen of either show runner Steven Moffat or his pal Mark Gatiss. It also has a lot in common with Moffat and Gatiss’s Sherlock in the way it tells the story.
In Part 1 the Daleks (Briggs) have occupied and enslaved planet Nixyce VII. Med-tech Liv Chenka (Nicola Walker), who ran into the Doctor in previous Big Finish stories, is caught up in the occupation and doubles as the Doctor’s companion. O’Sullivan is also at the Doctor’s side for Part 3: Time’s Horizon, by Matt Friton, and Part 4: Eyes of the Master, also by Briggs.
The story jump about in time and location, and my favourite aspect was 1970s London where the Doctor keeps a house in, wait for it, Baker St. He drives none other than a Volkswagen Beetle, a car which his passengers remark is “smaller on the inside”.
There’s lots of wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff in this four parter which you can’t accuse of taking the expected route or being predictable in any way at all.
Part 1 is a smokescreen of sorts, since the adversary the Doctor is really up against in this story is The Eminence (David Sibley), a gaseous entity the Doctor describes as far more dangerous than his old enemy for it has the ability to possess people. And, yes, the Doctor’s old Time Lord Nemesis The Master is also present in the final part played with pomp by Alex Macqueen.
Dark Eyes 2, then, is a paradox. It delivers everything you have come to expect of a Doctor Who story, but in a completely unexpected way. And it leaves you wanting more.