Written by Nicholas Briggs, John Dorney, Marc Platt & Matt Fitton
Starring Paul McGann, Nicola Walker, Hattie Morahan & Alex Kingston
Following on from the previous Eight Doctor series Dark Eyes, the still-ominously-named Doom Coalition is back with boxset two of four starring Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor, Nicola Walker as Med Tech Liv Chenka and Hattie Morahan as ex- British Museum scholar Helen Sinclair.
Beachhead by Nicholas Briggs
In an attempt to recharge his batteries after his confrontation with the Eleven, the Doctor takes Liv and Helen to the sleepy English seaside village of Stegmoor. But they find the village in turmoil with the Voord trying to invade Earth.
Nicholas Briggs continues his run of great writing with a gentle opening story, featuring a relatively underused villain in the Voord, which develops at a nicely gradual pace, with allusions to Jon Pertwee’s era that help to capture a beautiful classic Doctor Who style.
Scenes from Her Life by John Dorney
Investigating the appearance of the Voord on Earth, the Doctor, Liv and Helen follow a trail which takes them to the other side of the universe. There they discover a mysterious and almost deserted gothic city lost in space and time, in which the grotesque inhabitants are conducting a vile and inhumane experiment. The Doctor and his companions must hurry to save the lives of those in danger before the experiment is a success.
John Dorney has done it again. This mystery story loosely inspired by Gormenghast, takes an entirely unprecedented look into Time Lord society and in the one of the most fascinating locales Big Finish has ever crafted for us, link that with the incredible cast on hand, including Vincent Franklin as Lord Stormblood and Emma Cunniffe as this box set’s most pivotal new character Caleera, and you have an unmitigated success.
The Gift by Marc Platt
The TARDIS deposits its crew on Earth in San Francisco, 1906. There they find an actor-manager desperate to stage his definitive production of King Lear. But a real storm is headed their way when he becomes the possessor of a mysterious psychic ‘Gift’ which is hungry for power and intent on wreaking havoc and destruction.
The Gift initially feels wonderfully tangential, reminiscent of the likes of the classic Hartnell era episodes ‘The Feast of Steven’ or ‘Flight Through Eternity,’ and builds this whimsy, adding some wonderful Shakespearian influenced drama to reach a terrific conclusion.
The Sonomancer by Matt Fitton
On the other side of the galaxy a mining company is exploiting the already unstable planet of Syra for every precious mineral it contains. River Song is attempting to save the native people. She needs the Doctor’s help, but she also knows he mustn’t yet discover her true identity. The final confrontation sees the Doctor once again face his enemy the Eleven.
The Sonomancer sees the return of the tour de force baddie performance of Mark Bonnar as The Eleven, a Time Lord who internally contains multiple personalities of all his former regenerations. Alex Kingston is featured in this episode as long term Beau of the Doctor, River Song. As in the last time we saw the Eight Doctor and River meet, the Doctor mustn’t know who is River. This is handled well and story has some great performances, but the stakes of this fourth and would be climactic story don’t quite meet expectations which tries to do too much in a short space of time.
Paul McGann is as always at the top of his game, but for me it is the combined female cast that deserves the highest accolade for this release. Nicola Walker and Hattie Morahan in particular are fantastic as the Doctor’s companions; they have a wonderfully supportive camaraderie and feel like well rounded characters who are given the space required to develop and grow.
Doom Coalition two is a clear evolution from part one, with fantastic build up, but not quite the pay off a listener expects. It remains a brilliant piece of work, which still leaves us wondering who exactly are the titular Doom Coalition? I guess we’ll have to wait until part three to find out…
BLOGTOR WHO RATING 9/10
Paul McGann (The Doctor), Nicola Walker (Liv Chenka), Hattie Morahan (Helen Sinclair), Alex Kingston (River Song), Rebecca Night (Matilda Gregson), Julia Hills (Phillipa Gregson/Dispatch), Kirsty Besterman (Ishtek/Lilly), Andrew Dickens (Voord Guard/Police Sergeant/Mr Rogers), Emma Cunniffe (Caleera), Vincent Franklin (Lord Stormblood), Jacqueline King (Lady Sepulchra), Hamish Clark (Swordfish), James Jordan (Charles Virgil McLean), Paul Marc Davis (Pepé Gonzalez), Cory English (Sam Sonora), Laura Harding (Ethel Halliday/Mariam), Enzo Squillino Jnr (Aldo Deluca), Derek Ezenagu (Ruslan/Ivo), Janet Fullerlove (Yeva/Wife), John Banks (Husband/Guard/Mineworker/Galactic Heritage/Shopkeeper) and Mark Bonnar as The Eleven.
Producer David Richardson
Script Editor Ken Bentley
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs
Thanks to Big Finish