blogger_who (blogger_who) wrote,

Doctor Who: Destiny of the Doctor 02 - Shadow of Death

Rewritten from material that I originally posted 6/14/13 on another forum:

Blurb: Following an emergency landing, the TARDIS arrives on a remote world orbiting a peculiar star – a pulsar which exerts an enormous gravitational force, strong enough to warp time.

On further exploration the Doctor and his friends, Jamie and Zoe, discover a human outpost on the planet surface, inhabited by scientists who are there to study an ancient city. The city is apparently abandoned, but the scientists are at a loss to explain what happened to its sophisticated alien architects.

The Doctor discovers that something dark, silent and deadly is also present on the world - and it is slowly closing in on the human intruders...

Format: Limited-cast "talking book" format. The story is read by Fraser Hines except for the part of Sophie Topolovic, which is read by Evie Dawnay. Published by Big Finish Productions and Audio Go and released February, 2013.

Setting: Planet: Geminga B. Earth Year: 2724.

Continuity: Although impossible to say with certainty it appears that This story takes place between The Invasion and The Krotons. The Doctor describes the HADS system on the TARDIS, which places this story pre-Krotons. As the gap between The Wheel in Space and The Dominators should be very small this is the only other gap where this could work. The Doctor refers to the fact that Steven Taylor used to transport prefabricated building parts throughout Earth Space (see The Anachronauts). Jamie mentions that he met the Doctor at the battle of Culloden (see The Highlanders). Jamie recalls walking on the moon and mentions the Cybermen (see The Moonbase). The Doctor recalls that Jamie referred to airplanes as "flying beasties" when he first saw them (see The Faceless Ones).

Canonicity Quotient: There are some problems. The HADS is explained here but the Doctor explains it again in the Krotons. I've used this as justification for setting it before the Krotons, along with Jamie saying that Zoe had just recently joined them, but why does the Doctor feel the same need to explain the system to them in that story? Conversely if Guerrier had intended this story to happen after the Krotons why doesn't the Doctor just refer to the HADS and have one of the companions say "Oh you mean that thing that moves the TARDIS when its in danger?" There's also the issue with technology where Zoe seems quite familiar with technology well in advance of her time and the Doctor saying this is just like stuff Steven seemed to work with in the future. In the end all of that is quite a mess. 0.90

Discussion: I just listened to this one. While I think this was overall a better story, I think that it still suffers from the same "so what" problem that Hunters of Earth did. We're getting some relatively low key stories here which I guess are building to some kind of epic story in the last volume but it does mean that each individual release is not terribly interesting on its own. It does definitely have its good points as I will describe below.

Fraser Hines is wonderful as both Jamie and the Doctor. I can't say enough how much the love and respect that he has for Patrick Troughton comes out in each and every story where he does that voice. It's not perfect. He stammers a little to much, which is a Troughton trait but he didn't do it all the time, but much like Purves' brilliant Hartnell it's not important that it isn't perfect, its the love and respect that lends itself to the verisimilitude. Hines also does a wonderful job narrating making this story very interesting to listen to.

The story, while simple and somewhat basic, was at least an interesting story and up until the resolution it maintains interest because you want to understand what's going on. The idea of a creature of shadow reaching out towards you is menacing and suitably atmospheric and it helps to continue the feeling of claustrophobia. The atmosphere is created well by the setting, an exotic world with a beautiful sky, mysterious ruins, and scattered time fields makes the place both mysterious and seemingly dangerous. That heightened with the danger inside makes this feel like a base under siege with nowhere safe to run.

On the other hand, why was Sophie even voiced in this story. Evie Dawnay does a fine job of voicing her but she barely has any lines and doesn't do much in the story. I realize that the Doctor is the one that we'd really want to have voiced and he isn't available to us but it almost feels like they could have saved their money and had Fraser do Sophie's voice as well. Her character has nowhere near as much to do as Cedric did in Hunter's of Earth and even he didn't have much.

I have a problem with something that seems to crop up with ever Guerrier story. He doesn't appear to put any thought into the temporal setting of his stories. This story is set in the 28th century. The Doctor then brings up that the technology is familiar to him as what Steven used to assemble. The audios have established Steven as coming from the 23rd century. There is no way that in 500 years of technical development that the same technology would be used. It's even worse because all this Steven info is in stories that Guerrier himself wrote. It's almost as if he thinks that the future is just one location and that all things happen simultaneously within it. (As an aside, I always thought Steven should be from the 26th century and was grounded while participating in the Draconian War but that's just a personal preference and there's no evidence to support it, so if BF says 23rd century then 23rd century it is) He also ignores the fact that Zoe would be hundreds of years out of date for the tech in this story. She may be a genius and pick things up quickly but she'd need time to study the technology for a while before she'd be able to do something with stuff that's at least 700 years ahead of her time. It's insane to think otherwise.

The resolution is so silly it makes you re-evaluate the whole story. "I'm so sorry that we killed all your friends, could you mind keeping down the noise?" just makes the whole thing seem so trivial in retrospect. The Doctor says that everything is taken care of but how does he know that. Who knows what noise level these guys find unacceptable? Maybe after the Doctor leaves they still kill the humans because they can sense the vibrations from them walking around their ship and it still hurts their delicate sensibilities? It's just incredibly goofy and seems almost as if a resolution had to be found because the story had come to the end of its runtime and no more involved solution was at hand.

It still niggles at me that these stories reference the new series. It would seem that's the purpose of these but I'd rather have had them just have some linking location or arc rather than wholesale visits from or messages from the new series. As I won't be listening to the ninth, tenth, or eleventh Doctor segments it is starting to become more frustrating that these stories seem simply to exist to allow an excuse for a message to be passed to an earlier Doctor rather than being able to stand on their own two feet.

So in the end I gave this one a 7/10. The story is fine although a little basic and let down by its ending but Fraser's performance as the Doctor keeps it from a 6/10. I hope that the next installment, involving my favorite Doctor will have a bit of a meatier story.

Final Rating: 7/10

Recomendation: The story is full of suspense and Fraser Hines is a great storyteller. Still, we've got silly resolutions and a story that at the end makes you go "so what". It's a mixed bag here, so basically I would say to skip it, but if you're interested in following the entire Destiny of the Doctor run then this one won't really be that bad. It's certainly an interesting enough for a single listen.
Tags: anachronauts, audio drama, destiny of the doctor, doctor who, dominators, faceless ones, fraser hines, highlanders, invasion, jamie mccrimmon, krotons, moonbase, season 6, second doctor, shadow of death, simon guerrier, wheel in space

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