The Light At The End is a two-hour long audio adventure from Big Finish and has been released a month before the 50th Anniversary it was created to commemorate. It’s what is colloquially known as a “multi-Doctor” story and features every incarnation of The Doctor from before the programme returned to our screens in 2005. This review centres on the 10,000 piece Limited Collector’s Edition. [You can find the review of the “Standard Edition HERE.]
So, how does this Doctor-centric chapter measure up against its fellow multi-physician phases? The multi-Doctor story is a very specific one, and entirely unique. Some adore these stories, whilst other slate them as over-indulgent. The Light At The End walks a fine line but feels just a little too self aware of avoiding the themes and memes of the past. The problem here is that it is neither knowingly self referential nor contrastingly different enough to break the mould. It feels a little like the “Classic Series” Doctors take a holiday in the current series universe.
There are some wonderful performances, and the pairings of the Doctors were interesting; particularly Tom Baker and Paul McGann, who make a great duo. As always with these stories, the interplay between Doctors is what a large number of fans are most interested to witness.
The chosen companions – Louise Jameson, Sarah Sutton, Nicola Bryant, Sophie Aldred and India Fisher – also bring a lot to the table and there are masses of lovely little other cameos. Colin Baker stands out as the true hero of the story, which seems appropriate as he is often lauded as the best “audio Doctor”; a title with which I would not argue.
Geoffrey Beevers is on hand as the villain, the Master and, for fans of the Gallifrey series, Oliver Hume makes an appearance as C.I.A (Celestial Intervention Agency) agent, Straxus. The story is certainly an enjoyable ride, but misses a few notes and by only allowing the Doctors to unite for a few moments makes the listener feel slightly cheated.
The Making of The Light At The End
The Limited Collector’s Edition also includes a “making of” the 50th Anniversary audio adventure. It’s great to hear a little from each of the many actors on hand to commemorate the programme, and slightly disappointing to hear that a lot the pairings of the Doctors were down to scheduling. It’s interesting to hear about the background of how the story evolved to what we get to enjoy.
This Is Big Finish Documentary
One of the main boasts of the Limited Collector’s Edition is the seventy-minute This Is Big Finish documentary, for the seasoned listener there isn’t anything new on offer here, although for new listeners it’s fantastic to get a background for those coming to Big Finish audios for the first time. The one thing that really does come across, is how greatly everyone who works for Big Finish cares and loves what they do. And very much looking forward to the upcoming Philip Hinchcliffe series of dramas.
Companion Chronicles: The Revenants
The Limited Collector’s Edition also includes the Companion Chronicles release The Revenants, starring William Russell (pictured right) and Sharon Small. This story was originally released as a free download with Doctor Who Magazine issue 448 back in May 2012. As always, Russell is wonderful, but sadly the story doesn’t impress. It’s lovely to find out a little about what happened to Ian and Barbara after returning to earth butthe story is a little stilted and doesn’t move quickly enough to build much momentum.
The packaging for the Limited Collector’s Edition is beautiful. It gives a background to each Doctor and his relevant companion in the form of a Gallifreyan Celestial Intervention Agency incident report; featuring some tremendous original images and certainly makes a beautiful momento for the 50th anniversary.
The Limited Collector’s Edition comes highly recommended to new to Big Finish listeners and completists, but for the more seasoned listener the “Standard Edition” will probably suffice. The packaging is truly elegant, but the extra content doesn’t quite balance the price.