A 50th Anniversary Audio Drama.

CAST:

The Fourth Doctor — Tom Baker
The Fifth Doctor — Peter Davison
The Sixth Doctor — Colin Baker
The Seventh Doctor — Sylvester McCoy
The Eighth Doctor — Paul McGann
Leela — Louise Jameson
Nyssa — Sarah Sutton
Peri — Nicola Bryant
Ace — Sophie Aldred
Charley — India Fisher
The Master — Geoffrey Beevers
Susan — Carole Ann Ford
Ian — William Russell
Steven — Peter Purves
Vicki — Maureen O’Brien
Sara — Jean Marsh
Polly — Anneke Wills
Jamie — Frazer Hines
Zoe — Wendy Padbury
Jo — Katy Manning
Tegan — Janet Fielding
Turlough — Mark Strickson

Synopsis: November 23rd 1963 proves to be a significant day in the lives of all eight Doctors… it’s the day that Bob Dovie’s life is ripped apart. It’s also a day that sets in motion a catastrophic chain of events which forces the first eight incarnations of the Doctor to fight for their very existence. As a mysterious, insidious chaos unfolds within the TARDIS, the barriers of time break apart. From suburban England through war-torn alien landscapes and into a deadly, artificial dimension, all these Doctors and their companions must struggle against the power of an unfathomable alien technology. From the very beginning, it is clear that the Master is somehow involved. By the end, for the Doctors, there may be only darkness.

As I mentioned recently in another discussion, I was not expecting to receive this audio until the end of the month. Now that I have it earlier than expected, though, my wife has asked that I save it until our Thanksgiving road trip so that we can listen to it together. I’m putting this discussion up as a kind of “placeholder” until after I’ve listened to it. If it sounds interesting to you and you’d like to hear it, too, there’s still time to order it directly from Big Finish and have it in time for Thanksgiving. (Orders usually take about two weeks to reach the U.S.)

I’ll be back (to this discussion) the week after Thanksgiving. Hope to see here you then!

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Looks interesting. It'll have to wait until if/when I can afford it.

After two brief prologues, the main action begins aboard the TARDIS with the Eighth Doctor and Charley. The TARDIS has passed through some sort of time anomaly which has shunted the TARDIS to Earth, England, November 23, 1963. In short order, the Doctor and Charley discover that all iterations of the TARDIS have been shunted to this particular time and place. You can imagine the chaos that ensures as the Doctor crosses his own timelime not once, but multiple times.

This is the most technologically impressive part of the story. All versions the TARDIS co-exist as multiple overlapping ghost images (represented on CD as auditory sound bites fading in and out). I was going to say that the bits of dialogue we judiciously lifted from existing television episodes, but I’ve since read an interview with the director who maintains that all of the snatches of dialogue were specially recorded for the audio (except for Hartnell, Troughton and Pertwee’s lines, of course).

The story provides an excellent opportunity throughout for different Doctors to interact with each other, unlike the “subscriber only” four Doctor special from a couple of years ago, in which the Doctors each had their own separate section and interacted only briefly at the end. I would also estimate that each of the Doctors gets a roughly equal amount of “screen time.”

When things start to stabilize, Leela suddenly finds herself, not in the Fourth Doctor’s TARDIS, but in the same TARDIS as the Eighth Doctor and Charley. When the Fourth Doctor finally tracks her down, he has the Eighth Doctor give him the lowdown on his future self, the Sixth Doctor (whom he can see through the veil), and why he has such bad taste in clothes. Later, Ace gives nicknames to all the Doctors (other than the Seventh, who is still “Professor” to her), and she refers to the Sixth as “Joseph” (as in “Technicolor Dreamcoat”). Each of the Doctors has his own idea about how to approach and resolve the problem, and each subsequent one who tries learns something from the previous one’s efforts.

What has happened is this: the Master has unearthed incriminating evidence about the Celestial Intervention Agency and has blackmailed them into letting him choose a weapon from their secret arsenal under threat of revealing what he has learned to the High Council. Naturally, the CIA knew the Master would use whatever weapon he chose to attack the Doctor, which they were fine with, until his attack threatened all existence as well. Then they had to enlist the Doctor’s help to thwart the Master’s designs.

The weapon in question is aimed at the TARDIS and causes it’s timeline to collapse upon itself on November 23, 1963 (a random date). The timelines collapse in random order; it’s not strictly first to last or last to first. As a matter of fact, the first three iterations of the Doctor (as observed through the veil by the other five) are separated from the rest, but can be seen working together to resolve the dilemma from their end.

It’s been about two weeks since I listened to it (and I really need to hear it a second time), but it’s more than just an excuse to bring five Doctors (and some 16 companions) together; it’s actually a quite interesting story (and it’s tied together by an “everyman” character named Bob Dovie). It’s probably not a good story for a newcomer, but I’d definitely recommend it to any hardcore Doctor Who fan.

Sounds interesting,

I started listening to “The Light at the End” for the second time this morning. I would like to mention that this production features a new arrangement of the theme song which I like quite a bit. There are also lots of auditory Easter eggs which I will leave for potential listeners to discover for themselves. Now that I’m in a position to take notes, however, I would like to reproduce a few snatches of clever dialogue.

First I should point out I misremembered one of the scenes I mentioned in my initial post. It wasn’t Leela who appeared in the Eighth Doctor’s TARDIS, it was Charley who appeared in the Fourth Doctor’s TARDIS.

CHARLEY: But you’re not the Doctor…?

FOURTH DOCTOR: Oh, but I am! The definite article, you might say. I’m afraid it seems that my future counterpart hasn’t told you about regeneration.

LEELA: “Regeneration”?

CHARLEY: And it looks like you haven’t told her, either.

FOURTH DOCTOR: Ah, yes… good point. Well, it’s quite a dull subject, actually.

The Fourth and Eighth Doctors play off each other very well.

FOURTH DOCTOR: I don’t recognize this.

EIGHTH DOCTOR: It’s my version of the TARDIS’s control room.

FOURTH DOCTOR: Really? It seems a trifle ostentatious to me.

EIGHTH DOCTOR: I inherited it.

FOURTH DOCTOR: Who from? Jules Verne?

GHOST IMAGE OF THE SEVENTH DOCTOR: Hello!

EIGHTH DOCTOR: No, from him.

[GHOST IMAGE OF THE SIXTH DOCTOR APPEARS]

FOURTH DOCTOR: Do I really end up with such a terrible sense of fashion?

EIGHTH DOCTOR: Says the man in the impractical scarf. It’s all a question of taste, I suppose.

FOURTH DOCTOR: Well, I suppose that would explain your Wild Bill Hickok costume.

EIGHTH DOCTOR: Hmm… most people think it’s something to do with Byron.

We later see this same scene from the Seventh Doctor’s point of view. He explains the concept of regeneration to Ace, and she says, “So… are you seriously telling me, all those blokes… old man white hair, Beatles haircut, frilly shirt, long scarf big eyes, cricket boy, Joseph and his amazing Technicolor dream coat, and Lord Byron… all of them, they were you?

It occurs to me that this story could explain how the Third Doctor seemed to be familiar with his successor (“All teeth and hair?”) in “The Five Doctors.”



Jeff of Earth-J said:

IIt occurs to me that this story could explain how the Third Doctor seemed to be familiar with his successor (“All teeth and hair?”) in “The Five Doctors.”

 

 

Actually, the "teeth and curls" line was supposed to be Lis Sladen's, but Pertwee stole it form her, as he was apparently wont to do.

Teeth and curls, right. It just didn't make any sense that Pertwee should have that line. The last time I watched it I noticed that she did kind of pantomime "teeth and curls." The Third Doctor must be a whiz at charades!

I get the impression from commentaries and DVD extras that Pertwee had just a touch of the prima donna to him, and that it was an unwritten part of the job description of the actress playing the lead companion to jolly him along, even if that occasionally meant letting him steal a line or a scene.  I suspect that Sladen just fell back into old habits when she was working with him again for "The Five Doctors".

I just listened to this a third time. Here’s a bit of dialogue that struck me as humorous this time through. The Sixth Doctor and Peri are peering through the veil at the Seventh Doctor and Ace.

SIXTH DOCTOR: That’s a future version of me.

PERI (cheerily): And that’s a future version of me!

SIXTH DOCTOR: Hardly!

PERI (rebuffed): Just joking.

How long is this thing?  (Amazon won't tell me and I'm way too lazy to look any farther than that.)

Four episodes (approximately 30 minutes each) on two CDs (or download).

Thanks. I might have to pick that up.

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