Sunday, 20 September 2015

Dark Eyes 4

It really is sad to say goodbye to something good isn’t it? Take me for example, five years on I still mourn the end of the Russell T Davies era of TV Doctor Who.  It was as close to perfect as the series had been. It had everything, action, adventure, romance and gut wrenching, heartbreaking emotion. Four hours, four long hours I cried when Tennant regenerated. I was not just crying for him, I was crying for the end of an era, and with the dawning realisation that Doctor Who would never be quite this good again. And for me it wasn’t, Matt Smith left me completely cold, and despite Capaldi being utterly wonderful, the stories are not quite there, there is something lacking – perhaps the BBC could ask Big Finish for some tips in how to put heart and head back in to Doctor Who…
Which brings me in my now usual circumventuous way to Dark Eyes 4.  Ah Dark Eyes, born from the loss of the wonderful Lucie Miller leading us through the life of Molly O’Sullivan, reuniting us with Liv Chenka, adventures with The Daleks, the Eminence, the Master and more.  Dark Eyes is a lesson in how to build on what had come before, to take the triumphs of the Lucie Miller era and build on them, build deeper, darker, more emotional stories, to take the happy go lucky Eighth Doctor and set him on the path to choose “Warrior” at the end of his life on Karn.
So Dark Eyes Four – four stories linked which lead to the end of the saga, and what an ending, what an ending, oh my THAT ending, but I am getting ahead of myself.  The set starts with “A Life in the Day”, The Doctor and Liv Chenka (Nicola Walker) are in 1920’s London, they befriend Kitty Donaldson – an old friend of Dark Eyes herself Molly O’Sullivan and her brother Martin. Martin is a war veteran who takes a liking to Liv and spends a perfect day with her, but all is not as it seems. The Doctor and Liv are being hunted by killer androids, all of London is in danger, and just when you think love has saved the day, unfortunately it hasn’t. This is Doctor Who does Groundhog day; its a really small scale story, linked to a much bigger scale event, its sweet and charming, and its quite amusing to see the belligerent matter of fact Liv wooed by the joyful Martin Donaldson, lovely to see her hard facade crack and see the person underneath the veneer – a great start to the set.
Second is “The Monster of Montmartre” – events in the first story lead The Doctor and Liv to Paris, but something is wrong.  A monster stalks the streets of Montmartre, there is a red Pagoda where the Windmill of the Moulin Rouge should be, things are not at all right, and then the Dalek Time Controller shows up….. this is where Dark Eyes 4 really gets going, the plot kicks in and picks up from the previous sets.  The Dalek Time Controller has an audacious plan and with the help of The Master, he is going to achieve it, leading to Part three “Master of the Daleks.”  Alexander Macqueen is back as the gleefully camp, delightfully cruel incarnation of The Master.  He has all the best lines, including my favourite “I’m his arch enemy!  Like an ordinary enemy but a touch more sardonic” – fabulous!
The Dalek Time controller has created a divergent timeline in which earth is New Skaro, the population have been subjugated as have the Sontarans who now act as a slave race for the Daleks. Never more has the phrase “my enemies enemy is my friend” been more apt.  This story has a lot of surprises which I will not spoil, but it sets up everything for the finale  “Eye of Darkness”, which I cannot really tell you anything about without ruining it, okay, it has The Doctor in it and it’s set in the Eye of Orion, it ties up all the loose ends regarding the Daleks and The Eminence, but that’s your lot. No more. Nothing to see here.
So a fitting end? Oh yes indeed – I think I am on record as saying that I enjoyed Dark Eyes 1, Loved Dark Eyes 2, though Dark Eyes 3 was okay, well, Dark Eyes 4 really has saved the best until last.  It’s a roller coaster of emotion, action and adventure, perfectly crafted, well honed and structured stories that make sense.  They hang together well and most of all DON’T CHEAT (take note TV series). The acting is top notch, I am really growing to like Liv Chenka, but the guest cast are uniformly superb – Rachel Stirling, Susannah Harker, Dan Starkey, Alexander Macqueen, Nick Briggs – the whole production oozes class, draws you in, plays with your expectations, build you up and knocks you down. I take my hat off to all involved. Truly a classic. 10/10.