Friday, 1 January 2016

Only the Monstrous: The Thousand Worlds written and directed by Nicholas Briggs

What's it about: With the high-ranking Time Lord Seratrix behind enemy lines, the War Doctor finds himself assigned to a rescue mission. But any room for manoeuvre is severely restricted by an area of space known as the Null Zone. Times have changed on Keska, and a countdown to destruction is beginning. But who are the Taalyens and what is their part in the great and terrifying Dalek plan?

Damaged: We're told again about how dangerous the War Doctor is. I hope this is backed up by some evidence this time around. If the Doctor's presence on Gallifrey was felt there would be anarchy. He has to keep to the cloisters, so to speak. He might be outwardly different from the other Doctors but he has the same level of disdain for Gallifrey as his predecessors. He'll come to regret that at the apex of the Time War. When Ollistra tries to call him the Doctor he practically goes to strike her with anger. It's not how he recognises himself anymore. He has come to accept that each Dalek scheme will be more hideous and overblown than the last and they ultimately he will defeat them. Big surprise coming then, Doctor. By bringing him back to Keska under Dalek rule the Doctor is seeing the big picture in the universe. He might be able to save them from their local skirmishes but the Daleks will catch up and conquer every planet he has saved eventually. Ultimately there will be nowhere to run.

Sparkling Dialogue: 'What can possibly be good about destroying all life on a thousand planets?'

Great Ideas: A large sector of space in a specific period has been rendered impossible to reach by time travel. Naturally the Time Lords are intrigued. If there's a period of time/area of space that they cannot get their grubby little protuberances on I'm not at all surprised that it would obsesses them. When you have played God for as long as this it is hard when another race decides they want a piece of the action. The Daleks have turned Keska into an industrial nightmare, a stinking pit of despair. The Daleks are building incredible monolithic structures on each of the thousand worlds they have conquered. The ending certainly raises an eyebrow...the Daleks are looking to create peace in our time. But with their involvement I am sure it will have the same kind of scale and devastation as the Reality Bomb from Journey's End.

Audio Landscape: Trickling sewers, time stretching as you enter Null Space, war music, stasers blasts.

Musical Cues: That dreadful war music in honour of the Prime Dalek. What a godawful noise. They have to be an evil bunch.

Isn't it Odd: It is a little overstated that Rejoice has seen a pathway to the rest of the universe in the Doctor given that is exactly what he isn't offering. It almost feels like she has seen the previous 50 years of Doctor Who on the box and wants a slice of the action. It feels like it is something she should say rather than something she would say. They bonded in The Innocent over a dramatic problem but I don't buy the connection that she has to the Doctor - this talk about her wanting to protect him from himself. The worst she saw of him was him having something of a tantrum on a boat. What is it about Daleks and drills? They do love a big phallic drill plunging into the core of some unsuspected planet. I want to see the universe burn and fade and scream. 'You think what the Daleks are doing here is just another strategy in your Time War?' Well, duh.

Standout Scene: The shock reveal that Carolyn Seymour was playing an older Rejoice as a slave on the mechanised future version of Keska came out of nowhere. It's beautifully played by the two actors too. It's their first scene together but there feels like there is a weight of time and friendship between them. That, to me, felt more compelling than the first scene which tried to suggest there was a substantial friendship in place. Perhaps it is all down to the performances.

Result: 'This has an unpleasantly familiar ring to it!' John Hurt, Jacqueline Pearce, Carolyn Seymour...you can't argue with the kind of talent that Big Finish are booking these days. I only wish they were given a more ambitious narrative to play about in. Bizarrely this feels like the opening instalment again, like The Innocent wasn't needed at all. It introduces us all to the key players in the first scene and works out to be the first part of a two part story. Whilst it gives the story a chance to breathe and take in the scenery it means that there is little in the way of pace to this story. What's disappointing is how familiar it all is. A dollop of The Dalek Invasion of Earth, a dash of The Stolen Earth and Dalek Empire overseeing the whole thing. I have to admit this isn't quite the Time War I was expecting the Doctor to be fighting. Whilst Moffat boiled it down to a game of cowboys and Indians in The Day of the Doctor, there were scattered references throughout the Davies era that suggested this was a War fought in a multitude of times, dimensions and twisted realms. Where rules of time and space were broken and perverted. I'm not saying this isn't dramatically pitched but it certainly is a little mundane. Drills and monoliths and engines of destruction. Been there, done that. If you are going to suggest that things got so bad that the entire planet Gallifrey had to be wiped from the face of existence for the greater good then you have to provide inescapable evidence as to precisely why. And we're nowhere near that yet. While it plays out along predictable lines, The Thousand Worlds does at least have a humdinger of a cliffhanger that propels us into the final part. I'm looking forward to new writers tackling the second box set though. This isn't brave and bold as a Kang should be: 5/10

1 comment:

Ed Azad said...

There's simply no way the Doctor (even the War Doctor) is ever going to be presented as anything less than a paragon of virtue. Besides the obvious baggage associated with Colin and now Capaldi, it's just not believable that scruffy, huggable John Hurt could lay a finger on anybody...in the context of DOTD it was fine, but the basis for building a series of War Doctor stories is fundamentally flawed.

Also I don't think Big Finish has the creative capital to depict the Doctor doing anything so unkind, anyways.