‘A Heart on Both Sides’ is a Short Trip story and the first of two preludes to next month’s Time War box set.
Having finished her work on Traken, Nyssa now travels between planets aiding anyone she can. For a while now, she and her partner Doctor Foster land on a planet close to Gallifrey, she finds things in the Time War are finally coming to a head. A long time, Nyssa travelled with a Time Lord, she even visited Gallifrey and she thought she understood the Time Lords. But she soon discovers that anything can change. Not every Time Lord has a heart on both sides.
Nyssa is perhaps the last companion that one would think of having a role in the Time War, Romana, K9, Leela or Ace perhaps but not Nyssa. Nyssa was too kind-hearted. She cared too much to involve herself in something like the Time War. But writer, Rob Nisbet, weaves those character traits into the perfect reason why Nyssa would get involved.
Went to Gloucester
Nyssa really shines in this dark tale. Her caring personality gets her into some trouble and it is a good job that Doctor Foster is on call to help. Nisbet does a brilliant job of weaving the Doctor into the story and putting him in contrast with the Doctor Nyssa knew. Weary after his involvement in the war so creating the sense that this is someone completely new.
Nisbet has also kept some sense of continuity with Nyssa’s character arc in other spin-offs. An older Nyssa, presumably the same one here, would one day go on to meet the Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Turlough in ‘Cobwebs’. There’s even room for the ending of ‘The Entropy Plague’, suggesting that this story takes place before that one for Nyssa. It’s a nice nod to her character growth outside her TV appearances without distracting from the story.
Words, Words, Words
Perhaps the only problem with this story is that it is very talky. Characters move from set piece to set piece and just talk. There is hardly any action: no running down corridors chased by monsters or from explosions. But it’s a very dense plot and it’d be hard to keep a lively pace while explaining it all.
But those are only minor quibbles, Sarah Sutton is in her element and narrating comes naturally to her. In much the same way Matthew Waterhouse seems to have found his niche in narration. We’d love to hear Sarah given more narration roles in future Big Finish.
Ultimately, ‘A Heart on Both Sides’, couldn’t come at a better time. With October seeing the first in the Eighth Doctor’s new series set during the Time War, a primer is a great help. Even though the Daleks were committing atrocities, the Time Lords were doing just the same. In war, even the best of humanity get caught up in events and sometimes there is no way out…
Blogtor Rating: 8/10
Doctor Who: Short Trips Monthly is a series of new short stories read by an original cast member.
Release #33 is an Eighth Doctor and Nyssa story.
After her medical work on Terminus, Nyssa is now the controller of a hospital ship, the Traken. As the universe burns in the crossfire of the Time War, she and her assistant travel to a planet close to Gallifrey where they are needed more than ever. A long time ago, Nyssa knew a Time Lord and understood his people. But it seems they can change…
Producer Ian Atkins
Script Editor Ian Atkins
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs
Written By: Rob Nisbet
Directed By: Lisa Bowerman
Sarah Sutton (Narrator)