The purpose of this thread is to discuss the War Doctor audios from Big Finish. Like the Eighth Doctor, who was featured in only one televised episode then went on to be featured in a long-running series of audio adventures, so too is the “War Doctor” featured in only one televised episode (“The Day of the Doctor”) and has only just begun what I hope will be a long-running series of audio adventures. The first three-part collection, “Only the Monstrous,” was released last month. The second, “Infernal Devices” is due in February, with two more slated to be released later in 2016.
There is one other, brief, small screen appearance of a rather young-looking War Doctor, and that is in the short film “The Night of the Doctor,” which features the regeneration of the Eighth Doctor. It also brings the Eight Doctor audios into official continuity by mentioning the Eighth Doctor’s most prominent companions by name. If you’ve never seen “The Night of the Doctor” mini-episode, click here.
When writer, producer and executive producer of “The Collected War Doctor,” Nick Briggs, was asked whether or not there was any thought of picking up directly after “Night of the Doctor” with the new Doctor finding his feet, Briggs replied: “Not on my part. I’m very keen not to lock things down and join up continuity. On the one hand you risk the TV series contradicting what you’ve written at some point—because although we have to check with them, they don’t check with us—but also, I think it’s a creative dead-end to leave no space for new stories. On a practical note, it would hardly have been credible for John [Hurt] to play a younger version of himself. He has a beautiful, craggy voice that absolutely speaks of decades, perhaps centuries more experience than that.”
As with “The Eighth Doctor Adventures” discussion, I will maintain an index to the individual stories on this initial post.
1. ONLY THE MONSTROUS
1.1 The Innocent - p1
1.2 The Thousand Worlds - p1
1.3 The Heart of the Battle - p1
2. INFERNAL DEVICES
2.1 Legion of the Lost - p1
2.2 A Thing of Guile - p2
2.3 The Neverwhen - p2
3. AGENTS OF CHAOS
3.1 The Shadow Vortex - p2
3.2 The Eternity Cage - p3
3.3 Eye of Harmony - p3
4. CASUALTIES OF WAR
4.1 Pretty Lies - p3
4.2 The Lady of Obsidian - p3
4.3 The Enigma Dimension - p3
Interesting. I haven't heard much about Hurt's health lately. Hopefully, he'll last a while longer, yet.
Actually, things sound good for him at the moment.
I did not know he was in ill health, but it's good to hear he's on the mend. Reportedly, he heartily enjoys recording the audios.
“As the Daleks mass their time fleet for a final assault on Gallifrey, something ancient is waiting for them at Omega One. And a sacrifice must be made. Arch-manipulator and Time Lord strategist, Cardinal Ollistra receives shock news of the Doctor’s death. Meanwhile, on the planet Keska, a parochial war has returned to plague a peaceful civilization after decades of tranquility. But how can such a war have any connection with the great Time War which, at any one moment in the whole of eternity, could threaten to tear the universe apart? If only the Doctor were still alive.”
“The Innocent” begins abruptly with Doctor’s (reported) death, moves immediately into the theme, then flashes back to the circumstances surrounding the Doctor’s “death.” (Just to clarify, this is not the death of the Eighth Doctor; he has long since regenerated into the War Doctor.) Speaking of the theme song, this arrangement is very martial, with percussion and brass, played in a minor key with dissonant chords.
As the story proper opens, the Doctor saves two Gallifreyan soldiers from suicide mission. The Timelords are using Dalek technology, specifically the Time Destructor, and the Doctor feels he has a better chance of surviving. He does, but it’s a near thing. He awakens on the planet Keska and is found by a young woman named Rejoice, but he slips in and out of consciousness for a period of “100 sunrises.” When he has fully recuperated from his injuries, he learns that the Keskans are at war with the Tallions, and fled to the planet Keska from the planet Traan before Rejoice was born. The Keskans are unaware of the time war and have never heard of the Daleks.
This is a very low key adventure as the Doctor takes a break from the Time War to help the Keskans with theirs. For another Doctor, I would classify Rejoice as good companion material. But this Doctor is not interested in a traveling companion. The Time Lords refer to him as Doctor, but not to his face. He refuses to identify himself to Rejoice at all. The woman who plays Rejoice delivers a remarkable performance. She delivers her lines in a calm, unemotional way, which not only sounds kind of alien, but also conveys the sense that she thinks about each and every word she says. She’s unsophisticated, but highly intelligent. She’s also forthright and honest.
The Doctor wants to be left alone, and mostly is except that Rejoice has visited him on 17 occasions in the last five or six months. The Doctor seems to enjoy her infrequent visits, although he complains about them. Mostly what they do is sit around and compare philosophies. Eventually the time Lords track him down. Cardinal Ollistra sends an agent named Velkin to draft him back into service, but he’s not ready to return to duty just yet. The Doctor and Rejoice take a rowboat out on the lake to get rid of Velkin.
While they are rowing and discussing what it means to be “monsterous,” the Doctor flies into a rage. Not one to put up with such actions, Rejoice dives into the water. She calmly informs him that she will be waiting for him on the shore. If he gets tired, she tells him to wave his oar in the air, and she will swim back out and row him back to shore.
Later, Cardinal Ollistra uses temporal energy from the Eye of Harmony to draw the Doctor back. (Sounds like a time scoop, although that term is not used.) The Doctor tries to flee in the TARDIS, and sure enough, Rejoice hops aboard at the last minute so it looks as if the cranky Doctor is going to have a companion after all. BUT THEN… the Timelords transport her off the TARDIS and back home.
There is absolutely nothing I dislike about this story. I love the music, the cranky War Doctor, the Daleks Time War plot. Rejoice serves a cool fruity juice drink and just the sound effects have me craving it. The writing is perfection. The same Doctor who said "No More" lives in this audio. He is steadfast in his conviction that he doesn't have a name. The Time Lords meddle and it is infuriating. It is wonderful.
THE THOUSAND WORLDS:
“With the high ranking Time Lord Seratrix behind enemy lines, the Doctor finds himself assigned to a rescue mission. But any room to maneuver is severly restricted by an area of space known as the Null Zone. Times have changed on Keska, and a countdown to destruction is beginning. But who are the Taalyens and what is their part in the great and terrifying Dalek plan?”
NOTE: I misspelled “Taalyens” in my previous post. It’s pronounced like “Italians” minus the first syllable.
The Doctor finds himself assigned to a small task force, under the command of Velkin and also including the two Gallifreyan soldiers he saved from the effects of the Time Destructor in the previous episode. The detonation of the Time Destructor resulted in an area of space, containing roughly 1000 planets, in which time travel is not possible. Their apparent mission is to rescue the Time Lord Seratrix from one of these worlds.
As you may have guessed, the world is Keska, and 20 years have passed since “The Innocent.” (Apparently the detonation of the Time Destructor threw the Doctor back in time.) In the previous episode, the Doctor helped the Keskans with a shield which would protect them from attack. Now the Daleks have formed an alliance with the Taalyens, disabled the shield and have taken control of Keska. The Doctor is reunited with Rejoice, who has become somewhat hardened by her experiences, but is still fiercely loyal to the Doctor.
The Doctor’s and Rejoice are eventually captured. He is surprised to find Seratrix apparently working with the Daleks. The Daleks are in the process of drilling through the planet’s crust to tap the core. This strategy sounds disturbingly familiar to the Doctor. Seratrix asks the Doctor who sent him on this mission, and he tells him it was Cardinal Ollistra. Seratrix is relieved because Ollistra sent him, too, and concludes that they are on the same side, fighting for the same goal. He explains that these particular Daleks consider the Null Zone their own time and space, and, because they are removed from the Time War, are seeking to establish peace throughout the 1000 worlds.
The episode ends with dozens of Daleks chanting: “PEACE IN OUR TIME! PEACE IN OUR TIME!”
Tracy’s been busy this week, so I’m going to post my thoughts on “The Heart of Battle” today and she will post her response to parts two and three over the weekend.
THE HEART OF THE BATTLE:
“Trapped in a citadel swarming with Daleks, the Time Lord rescue force must find a way to overcome insurmountable odds. With the Daleks apparently planning to rule the Null Zone, perhaps their thirst for universal conquest and victory has been quenched. The Doctor doesn’t believe so—but how can he prove it without destroying any chance of peace? As the countdown to the destruction f Keska proceeds, a deadly choice must be made… a choice that will define this Doctor and perhaps forever cast him in the role of ‘monster’.”
Seratrix sincerely (if naively) believes that the Daleks intend to pursue a peaceful agenda. It turns out that they plan to turn each and every one of the 1000 worlds within the Null Zone into projectiles to hurl against Gallifrey all at once, but that’s almost beside the point. This initial three-part story sets to establish the War Doctor as apart from all previous incarnations by pitting him against Seratrix, the peacemaker role the Doctor himself might be expected to play under other circumstances.
Cardinal Ollistra’s plan along was to use the Doctor to set up a kind of “back door” for War TARDISes to be brought into the Null Zone. Because the Daleks were trapped within, unable to travel in time, it would be a relatively simple matter to track them down and destroy them one by one, like shooting fish in a barrel. Cardinal Ollistra manipulated Seratrix all along. Surprisingly (or not), the Doctor sides with Ollistra to wipe out the Daleks. The last line thematically draws the three parts together and sets the tone for future adventures. Ollistra asks the Doctor where she can find him when she needs him again, and her responds, “At the heart of the battle, where the blood of the innocent flows and only the monstrous survive.”
...Is this incorporation of Eight Doctor audios into continuity the only time a non-screen Doctor story/ies has been explicitly mentioned later on in a BBC filmed production ?
As far as I know, "The Night of the Doctor" is the only time Big Finish continuity has been directly referened on screen. The episodes "Blink" and "Human Nature/Family of Blood" were adapted from print, but other than that, I don't know of any non-screen stories referenced on TV.
LEGION OF THE LOST:
“In a time of war, every means of victory must be explored. In the Time War, the unthinkable must be thought, and neither side can afford to be squeamish about their methods. When the destruction of an obscene weapon leads to the Time Lord once known as the Doctor uncovering a secret Gallifreyan initiative, he cannot believe what is being considered. Should victory be sought at any cost? Or are there worse possibilities than losing to the Daleks?”
The Daleks have a weapon which can wipe a race from history, but it does so in such a way as to leave the timeline intact. Furthermore, there’s something about the method which makes survivors keenly aware of the culture that was lost. The Daleks have been targeting peaceful, non-combative races which contribute to the arts. The Time Lords have lost a battle to capture this weapon. The Daleks have also bioengineered a Varga plant specifically for Time Lords. It extinguishes regeneration energy so they truly die. The Doctor arrives with the intent not to capture the Daleks’ weapon, but to destroy it. He finds only one survivor, but she soon falls victim to one of the plants. The Doctor escapes her fate, but is rendered unconscious.
A group of Gallifreyan soldiers arrives, too late to help, but they collect all the dead Time Lord bodies. They have a secret base, but the Doctor soon awakens to discover that they’ve allied themselves with a race of “technomancers” to create a device able to return dead Time Lords to life. Note that this is not regeneration, but rather actual resurrection of the dead. The Doctor is then reintroduced to the Time Lord he saw die on the planet.
And that’s where I left off.
Jeff of Earth-J said:
other than that, I don't know of any non-screen stories referenced on TV.
My recollection is lore from Ian Marter's novelisation of The Sontaran Experiment cropped up in the series later. It might be where the Sontarans were first described as a clone race. The book varies from the show a bit, and shows what happened when Harry went inside the craft. He finds it's bigger on the inside than the outside, and there are many Sontarans inside in hibernation. I think the former idea is alluded to in The Two Doctors, when the Sontaran craft attack the space station.
The Dalek Emperor appeared in the comic strip (and perhaps stories in annuals; I can't say) before The Evil of the Daleks. The version of the Emperor in Remembrance of the Daleks was based on the one from the comic strip.