Sunday, 20 September 2015

The Light At The End

This was my first ever BF review - please be kind!

Nostalgia is a wonderful thing, it can take you back in time to a more innocent age, make you recall sounds, smells, food and people long gone, and listening to The Light at the End, the official 50th anniversary audio from Big Finish, I can confirm it has this nostalgia feeling off to a “t”. I would go as far as saying that when the Doctors and companions make their appearances, I went decidedly warm and fuzzy and a bit dewy eyed.
But is it just nostalgia that this celebratory release has going for it, well, yes, and no in equal parts, even though it has all the first eight Doctors in one form or another, it owes an awful lot to the “timey-wimey” structure of the Moffat era, lots of hopping back and forth and bits happening out of order and without wanting to spoil it the ending feels like a staple from the RTD era.
Blimey, that was negative from me, sorry – but there are some excellent parts to it; my standout moment was a very small character moment where McCoy’s Doctor and Ace meet up with Colin Baker’s Doctor and Peri and McCoy reminisces about meeting Peri again, its beautifully melancholy and one of the reasons why I love McCoy’s Doctor so much, he really does seem to carry the weight of the universe and the decisions he has to make on his shoulders.
The Master is the villain of the piece played with gleeful menace by Geoffrey Beevers (the Wile E Coyote of villains according to Mrs W “why does he bother”) and again, without spoiling the plot, there is a scene where his cruelty and malice are really brought to the fore without him even being in the scene, it really is chilling and nasty.
All the Doctor’s get a fair slice of the action, the first part mainly has the pairing of Tom Baker and Paul McGann, Peter Davison does his own thing and the second part concentrates on Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy. The pairings work well together and each Doctor is given plenty to do, but the star of the production is Colin Baker, effortlessly dominating each scene he is in, a completely commanding performance as “Old Sixie”, he really does have some punch the air moments in this drama and its really sad to think that if he is THIS good, how good could he have been given a chance on TV – again nostalgia, Colin’s performance took me out of myself and back to being a 14 year old watching Trial of a Time Lord on a black and white portable TV in the spare room in my Taid’s (Taid is Welsh for Grandad) house back in 1986.
But what of the plot, well, to be absolutely honest, there isn’t a lot I can say without giving away spoilers; its epic, its celebratory, its very “fannish” and it really isn’t just wheeling in the old guard for the sake of it, there is a genuine plot driven reason why all the Doctor’s meet up. The crux of the plot is one man, Bob Dovey who’s life is affected by meeting The Doctor and a rather special date 23 November 1963, but apart from that, to quote River Song: “spoilers!”
The sound design owes a lot to Nu-Who, very bombastic and epic with a fantastic new arrangement of the theme tune (which Mrs W says sounds like Kiss!) which is to my taste, but might not be to classic era fans.
So, what is my feeling for the story, well, it is a brilliant celebration of the classic era of Doctor Who, all era’s are paid homage to  and there really are nods to the fans with little mentions of instances from The Doctor’s past 50 years, but it is a celebration wrapped up in a Nu-Who veneer, and that’s no bad thing. It does sag a bit in the middle and can get rather muddled, but no more than your standard Moffat story, so I can forgive it’s little inconsistencies, but as a love letter to fans and a testimony to 50 years of adventures Day of the Doctor will have to go a long way to beat it. There is so much in there that it will take two or three listens to absorb it all, but I don’t think that this will be a chore, so overall, the whole isn’t as good as the sum of its parts, and by jingo some of the parts are fantastic, just sit yourselves down in a quiet room, put your headphones on and lose yourselves in a fitting tribute to the classic era.
Score 7.5/10