For a long time, Big Finish had been prohibited by the BBC from doing any stories set during the Time War. I was pleased when that restriction was lifted, but disappointed when I found out I’d have to wait nearly two years before those stories would be released. Now my wait is very nearly over; the first set arrived in the mail today.
Initially, the Eighth Doctor Time War set was planned as a one-off complement to the War Doctor series. Sadly, the death of John Hurt means that there will be no more of those forthcoming. Soon it became clear that there was too much potential in the Time War to let the series come to a premature end. Soon there will be new series of The War Master (December) and Gallifrey: Time War (February). Also there are plans to up the Eighth Doctor box sets to three per year for the time being, one for the Time War and two for the Doom Coalition sequel.
According to Big Finish’s Vortex magazine: “There will be new regular characters in the Time War, too. When the saga opens, the Doctor is already travelling with Sheena (Olivia Vinall), who is a new companion for us but someone he has been with for a while. And then a second new friend will explosively enter his life—Bliss (Rakhee Thakrar), a refugee scientist. Listeners who follow our War Doctor stories will also need no introduction to Olistra (Jaqueline Pearce), here proving she has been a thorn in the Doctor’s side for far more years than we might have imagined.”
We have already heard some Eighth Doctor stories set during the Time War (in the Diary of River Song series and elsewhere), and we’ve seen him regenerate in the mini-episode “The Night of the Doctor”. As showrunner Steven Moffat once said of the audio range, “We saw how the Paul McGann Doctor died—now it’s time to find out how he lived.”
THE EIGHTH DOCTOR: THE TIME WAR
The Starship Theseus - p1
Echoes of War - p1
The Conscript - p1
One Life - p1
THE WAR MASTER
Beneath the Viscoid - p1
The Good Master - p1
The Sky Man - p1
The Heavenly Paradigm - p1
GALLIFREY: THE TIME WAR
Celestial Intervention - p2
Soldier Obscura - p2
The Devil You Know - p2
Desperate Measures - p2
THE EIGHTH DOCTOR: THE TIME WAR 2
The Lords of Terror - p2
Planet of the Ogrons - p3
In the Garden of Death - p3
Jonah - p3
THE WAR MASTER 2
Call for the Dead - p3
The Glittering Prize - p3
The Persistence of Dreams - p3
Sins of the Father - p3
GALLIFREY: THE TIME WAR 2
Havoc - p3
Partisans - p3
Collateral - p3
Assassins - p3
THE WAR MASTER 3
The Survivor - p3
The Coney Island Chameleon - p3
The Missing Link - p3
Darkness and Light - p3
THE EIGHTH DOCTOR: THE TIME WAR 3
State of Bliss - p4
The Famished Lands - p4
Fugitive - p4
The War Valeyard - p4
THE WAR MASTER 4
From the Flames - p4
The Master's Dalek Plan - p4
Shockwave - p4
He Who Wins p4
GALLIFREY: THE TIME WAR 3
Hostiles - p4
Nevernor - p4
Mother Tongue - p4
Unity - p5
Sphere of Influence - p5
The Uncertain Shore - p5
Assets of War - p5
The Shoreditch Intervention - p5
THE EIGHTH DOCTOR: THE TIME WAR 4
Palindrome, Pt. 1 - p6
Palindrome, Pt. 2 - p6
Dreadshade - p6
Restoration of the Daleks - p6
GALLIFREY: THE TIME WAR
Deception - p6
Dissolution - p6
Beyong - p6
Homecoming - p6
THE WAR DOCTOR BEGINS
Light the Flame - p7
Lion Hearts - p7
The Shadow Squad - p7
THE WAR MASTER 5
The Edge of Redemption - p
The Scaramancer - p
The Castle of Kurnos 5 - p
The Cognition Shift p
THE STARSHIP OF THESEUS (by John Dorney):
“The Doctor and his companion, Sheena, land the TARDIS on the glamorous luxury space-liner Theseus just as it’s about to leave the Jupiter space-port. An opportunity for a holiday presents itself – and it’s one they’re very glad to take. But when a disturbance catches their attention, they realize sinister events are taking place on board. Passengers are vanishing on every trip. And unless they’re careful they may be next. Can the Doctor and Emma solve the mystery? Or is there something else they should be worrying about?”
I can hardly believe I’ve sat on this for nearly five months. I haven’t been in the right place to even listen to it much less write it, but I am now so on we go! One other thing before we get started: I’ve decided to discuss all “Time War” related stories in this one thread, rather than starting a new discussion for each one. The “War Doctor” stories will remain in a thread of their own, but this one will cover Eighth Doctor, War Master and Gallifrey “Time War” stories in release order (which is not necessarily chronological order). See initial post above for what’s coming soon.
PROLOGUE: An unidentified mortaly wounded Time Lord in a battle TARDIS searches for “the renegade” in order to assassinate him. [CUE THEME]
The Eighth Doctor and Sheena materialize in a broom closet of a luxury space cruiser. While familiarizing themselves with the ship, they meet a crewman named Jefferson and a man with a grievance against the owners of the ship. His sister came aboard and never returned, and wants to learn what happened to her. While investigating, the Doctor begins referring to Sheena as “Emma.” She responds at first, then points out that’s not her name. The Doctor is mightily embarrassed, and asks what her name is. She hesitates, then responds “Louise.” They don’t realize it yet, but time is being rewritten around them.
Upon further discussion they realize that neither of them can remember how they met, how long they have been traveling together or why. They discover this is a former cruise ship converted into a refugee ship. The Doctor asks, “Refuges from what?” and when he is told “the war,” he cannot remember which war. Eventually some of his memories return and he remembers the Time War.
The ship is traveling through a certain dangerous area of space and is using engines that require human sacrifice. The technology is called a “warp bridge,” and it must in some way resemble a physical bridge because there is a troll-like creature living underneath it. In order to cross this area of space and get to safety, several jumps are required, each one requiring a human life. There are many among the war-weary refugees who are willing to make this sacrifice. This is what happened to the man’s sister. The Doctor offers to power the ship with his lives. It is at this point the Time Lord from the prologue arrives.
The Time Lord’s mission is to kill the Doctor before he is captured by the Daleks and his knowledge co-opted for use against Gallifrey, but he dies before he is able to complete it. His TARDIS is too badly damaged to be of further use, and he was killed with a “regeneration inhibitor,” so he does not regenerate. The Daleks have followed him and begin to attack the ship. The Doctor sends a message, but re-routes it so that the Daleks think he is on the bridge, buying them time to escape. He leads a group f refugees to the closet where he left his TARDIS, but it is gone. The Daleks track him down, but another group of human fighters, led by Jefferson and a woman named Bliss. They route the Daleks and the Doctor leads his group to where the Daleks have left their time ships. The ships are unlocked because, who would steal a time ship from a Dalek?
The Doctor gets the refugees aboard and manages to learn how to fly it, leaving the Daleks to face the troll-like creature in the engine room. The time ship materializes on a planet, but no soner do they begin to explore than they are attacked by a giant creature of some sort.
TO BE CONTINUED…
“How do you tell a war story about someone who doesn’t want to fight?
“This was the question that largely prompted the box set you’re about to hear. Matt Fitton and I sat down in Louise Jameson’s living room one evening during the recording of the second series of The Omega Factor to discuss ideas for this set, and it did rather prove a challenge.
“The Doctor wants to keep out of the way of the war. This much is clear from ‘The Night of the Doctor’. But what that story also makes clear is that he still wants to save people from it. The innocents caught on the fringes. Conscientious objector he may be, but that doesn’t mean he’s blind to the suffering. So that was always going to be the focus. The human cost.
“A chance to see how the war impacted on the outsiders.
“I’d largely kept the Daleks out of my previous Time War story (‘Legion of the Lost’), to vary the stories a bit, and that led to me staying away from the frontline and temporal shenanigans too. But the Daleks had to be up close and center for this set… and so I was very keen to bring in the time factor this, er, time. Seeing what unusual places it could take the storytelling to. As well as bringing in a sense of the epic and crazy, homaging all those evocatively named events of the War referenced in the RTD era. But ultimately it had to be about people. And about small, personal tragedies. About the price innocents pay.
“The Doctor can’t save everyone.”
ECHOES OF WAR (by Matt Fitton):
“Colliding with the full force of the Time War, the Doctor crash-lands on a jungle world with a ragtag band of refugees. To stay alive, they must cross a landscape where time itself is corrupted. A forest which cycles through growth and decay, where sounds of battle are never far away, and where strange creatures lurk all around. Luckily, the Doctor has friends: not only plucky scientist Bliss, but another, much more unlikely ally. Its name is ‘Dal’…”
The Doctor and the refugees land in time to see the Theseus breaks up and crash to the planet. They are stranded. The planet has multiple distortion zones in which no technology will work, including the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver. They are able to use the technology in the stolen Dalek ship to identify a safe zone some miles away. Since that is also the direction in which the Theseus fell, that is the direction they head. The Doctor hopes to fins his TARDIS among the wreckage.
The vegetation around them grows and gets old, dies, then reverses the pattern over and over again. In the distortion zones they see phantom images of past battles of the Time War, alternate realities. They soon encounter an amnesiac Dalek. The Doctor tries to co-opt it to their side and cautions the others not to say things such as “Doctor” or “Time Lord.” One of the refugees says “Dalek” however, and the Dalek begins to remember. As it begins to say “Dal—” the Doctor cuts it off and tells it its name is “Dal.”
Then they are attacked by long-haired prmates with claws. Jefferson runs from them and disappears into n of the distortion zones. He emerges minutes later, but from his perspective he’s been gone for weeks. He manages to say, “They made me fight,” before he drops dead.
Whe the primates attack again, this time it is the Doctor who disappears. This leaves Bliss, reluctantly, in change. She decides that they should continue on the same course of action. Soon they come upon the wreckage of the Theseus. The Dalek finds the TARDIS ad identifies it as an important piece of technology, insisting that they take it with them. The closer they get to the safety zone, the more the Dalek remembers.
The Doctor reappears with the primates in their true form. They are really peaceful creatures, but the Time War has forced them up and down the evolutionary chain. They were seeking help, but Jefferson misunderstood and ran from them.
Just then, the Time Lords appear on the scene. Cardinal Olistra sends the refugees to an internment camp to be vetted. The Dalek has recovered its memories, but the Doctor hopes it will learn from its experiences helping and protecting the humans in the Doctor’s absence. Just then, one of Olistra’s officers kills the Dalek. The Doctor chastises her for the damage they have done to the planet, and now they’re back. But the Time Lords have not been there before. All of the Phantom battles were from the future, not the past. Olistra makes a conscious decision to continue the war there, thus condemning the race of primates.
She then informs the Doctor that he is to report for training. In other words, he’s been drafted.
“What does the Doctor do when he’s pushed to his limits? The Time War is the fire in which great men are forged, and before we reach the journey of the War Doctor, so memorably portrayed by the great Sir John Hurt, the Eighth Doctor must make his way into the flames. We will start to see how he comes to be driven inexorably towards the decision he makes in ‘Night of the Doctor’.
“Of course, the Doctor always needs allies, and here he has Bliss—a clever, rather bolshy, graduate from Luna University to leand a hand. Back when names were in the frame for the Twelfth Doctor’s next companion on TV, I remember seeing Rakhee Thakrar mentioned and thinking—what a fantastic idea. I love East Enders, and have followed it through many years of ups and downs—much like some other BBC show!—and truly believe that, at its height, it can be some of the best drama on TV. Nowhere was this more evident than in the 2016 episodes focusing on Shabnam Masood (played by Rakhee) and her family coping with a tragic stillbirth. It was a powerful and heart-rending storyline and an acting masterclass from all involved. So as soon as I came up with Bliss as the Time War companion, in my mind, there was no other name in the frame to play her—and I was delighted when producer David Richardson told me Rakhee had said yes!
“So let’s head into that furnace with the Doctor and Bliss. The Time War is everywhere, and nowhere, it crosses all of time, and none of it. Once caught in its crossfire, you may never be free again. The darkest days of the Eighth Doctor are coming—and that is when his flame must burn the brightest…”
THE CONSCRIPT (by Matt Fitton):
“Cardinal Ollistra has a new tactic to persuade the Doctor to join his people’s fight. With his friends locked away, he has been conscripted alongside fellow Gallifreyans to train for the front lines of battle. Commandant Harlan has a reputation – his camp’s regime is harsh. He believes the Time Lords must adapt to win this war, but the Doctor is not easily intimidated. Can there be any place for dissent when the Time War looms so close?”
The Doctor takes being forced to military life about as well as you might expect. Most of this story is light-hearted… until the Daleks attack. They are stationed on the moon Tenacity, and the Doctor becomes closest to two of the recruits, Veeda and Norvid. While the Doctor is in solitary for one infraction or another, the Daleks attack. Norvid, inspired by what he thinks the Doctor might do, ends up getting himself killed. As the moon is being evacuated, the Doctor tries to convince his fellow recruits that it’s not worth dying for. He is, at least, partially successful. Some of the soldiers desert, but others, including Veeda, choose to stay and fight.
The Doctor’s sonic screwdriver was broken during training, and as they part ways, Cardinal Ollistra replaces it with one of a different color. She also returns his TARDIS, which is still in the process of repairing itself, and can travel in space, but not time. Part of Ollistra’s bargain for letting the Doctor go free is that she keeps the refugees. He refuses, of course, and she reneges on her offer. Because he has been so uncooperative, she reasons that she might have better luck dealing with his next regeneration and decided to kill him.
“Stand still,” she says, aiming a staser at his hearts, “and I’ll try to make your death as painless as possible.”
“There are qualities about the Doctor that are universally admired—those things that have made him an enduring hero for so many generations—and the Time War would seem to be the ultimate test of those qualities.
“How does a person who famously abhors weapons and violence function during war? The world of Doctor Who frequently asks the question, but rarely has the chance to hang around long enough to draw any conclusions. However, the Time War forces us to confront the issue head on.
“By its nature the Time War must be a war unlike any other. It’s a war happening not just everywhere but everywhen, and how it’s fought must be terrifying beyond imagination. But it would be inappropriate to glory in the spectacle of war, particularly given the Doctor’s character. In war it is inevitably the innocent who pay the highest price, and so it makes much more sense to explore the effect of war on the lives not just of those fighting it but also those trying to survive it. That’s the stuff of tragedy. These are anti-war stories for an anti-war Doctor.”
ONE LIFE (by John Dorney):
“As the full force of the Time War crashes down around the Doctor and his friends, a desperate battle for survival ensues. But not everyone is playing the same game. Ollistra is after a weapon that could end the war in a stroke and she’ll sacrifice anyone or anything to take it back to Gallifrey. Even the Doctor. Surrounded by Daleks, and on a tortured planet, only one man can save the day. But he doesn’t want to fight.”
Cardinal Ollistra’s intention to force the Doctor to regenerate is interrupted by the Daleks’ attack. The Daleks got through the Time Lords’ defenses by using a “regression wave,” not simply against the base or the moon it’s on, but the entire solar system it’s in, effectively dialing time back to before the Dalek defense was installed. The entire solar system is collaping under the strain, and the Doctor attempts to use the force of the collapse to fling the TARDIS free.
Speaking of the TARDIS, when the Dalek discovered it in “Echoes of War” and the refugees looked inside, it appeared to be an ordinary crate. I didn’t quite get it at the time, but that was because it was so badly damaged that it is no longer “bigger on the inside.” It is in self-repair mode and is gradually getting better, but in this episode one of the refugees remarks, “It’s not that much bigger on the inside.” Another humorous line was when the Doctor began to quote the well-known saying about ignorance to his latest companion, saying, “Ignorance is, uh… quite nice sometimes.”
The Time Lords (and the Daleks, for that matter) are in search of a weapon that has somehow erased all knowledge of itself from existence. The Doctor is surprised to learn that he is not the “renegade” both the Time Lords and the Daleks are after. There has been a married couple among the refugees all along, Rupa and Quarren Maguire, and this episode is interspersed with scenes of them meeting, dating, getting married, having a miscarriage, etc. Ollistra mentions a Time Lord device used to protect agents in the field, one which stores the Time Lord’s true self in a small personal item such as a fob watch. Quarren got a matching set of pendants for himself and his wife on their wedding day. His wife’s pendant has a hologram of the wedding ceremony, but he has never opened his own.
The Doctor thinks of a way to escape from the Daleks in his damaged TARDIS that would not be possible in a fully functional one. For expediency’s sake, he sets the TARDIS to take them to the nearest system with no sentient life. Their reprieve is short-lived, however, as the Daleks soon follow and subject the solar system to rapid aging. They see entire races born and die, and civilizations rise and crumble. Soon the system’s sun in in danger of going nova. The Doctor can save them, but only by sacrificing his own life. His last bit of advice to Quarren (since Quarren has no intention of ever becoming a Time Lord again), is to destroy the pendant once he gets himself clear of the Time War.
Quarren cannot live with the Doctor’s sacrifice, however, knowing that if he opened the pendant he would regain the power to save them all. He hopes that he will be able to open the pendant, set things right, then go back to his existence as Quarren with his wife Rupa. That is not the way it works out, however. Once he becomes a Time Lord, there is no going back to being Quarren again. He can, however, assume another human form, one with no memories of his life as either a Time Lord or as Quarren. This is what he does, after first removing his existence as Quarrren from the timestream so that no one, not the Doctor and not Rupa, remembers him
“The Time War. Ever since it was first mentioned by the Ninth Doctor in 2005, it has captured the imagination of Doctor Who fans everywhere. There has been so much conjecture, so much yearning to go there, to see what happened…
“For a long time at Big Finish, we thought that it would remain a locked off area of storytelling, and perhaps even that it might be best if it remained untouched, to retain the mystery. But times and feelings change, and suddenly that whole era opened up—first with our War Doctor stories, now with the Eighth Doctor, and coming soon with the War Master and Gallifrey: Time War.
“In fact it’s an era rich with possibilities for storytelling.
“The stakes, the action, the drama are all heightened and so are our imaginations. For the Eighth Doctor, it’s a bit different—we know he wants to remain on the fringes of the war, and that’s the Time Lord we see here—trying to help out in a universe gone mad.
“John and Matt have written some lovely scripts—in fact they’re some of my personal favorites among their work—and Ken cast very carefully, bringing in some really superb actors. And what a joy to have Rakhee Thakrar on board—Matt wrote the role for her, and we all loved her. In just a few days she became part of our Big Finish family, and we’re looking forward to more Blissful times working with her.”
UP NEXT: THE WAR MASTER
Listening to the CD “extras” I realize I completely missed a plot point early on. The description of “The Starship Theseus” provides a clue. It begins by mentioning “The Doctor and his companion, Sheena,” then goes on to ask, “Can the Doctor and Emma solve the mystery?” I even mentioned that the Doctor calls Sheens first Emma, then Louise. What I didn’t mention is that she isn’t in the stories long after that. What I failed to realize is that Sheena was erased from the Doctor’s timeline and he didn’t even realize it. I don’t know if this mean she no longer exists at all, or merely that the choices she made prior to the story never led her to meet the Doctor in the first place.
Big Finish does a lot of things like that. They might convey something through SFX alone (for example) that may not be entirely clear at first, but it usually becomes clear in subsequent scenes. Granted, I missed this one, but I’ll be better prepared to appreciate it next time through. It’s better than “sign-posting” by having the Doctor say something like, “Oh, no! Sheena has disappeared from the timeline!”
Bliss will be the Doctor’s “Time War” companion for the foreseeable future.
NEXT: “Four brand-new full-cast featuring the Master’s exploits in the Time War.”
BENEATH THE VISCOID (by Nicholas Briggs):
“On the ocean planet Gardezza, deep beneath the Viscoid, a mysterious capsule is recovered from the Time War, and an equally mysterious stranger found within. The Doctor’s reputation precedes him, even here… but can he be trusted?”
The planet Gardezza is completely covered with water, a thick, smelly water called the Viscoid. The air-breathing inhabitants of Gardezza live in shelters beneath the surface of the Viscoid. Gardezza is occupied by the Daleks, forcing the inhabitants to retreat further beneath the Viscoid. As the story opens, a mysterious capsule plunges to the surface followed in short order by the Daleks. Inside the capsule is a man claiming to be the Doctor. The Doctor’s reputation has preceded him and the Gardezzians take him in to enlist his help again the Dalek occupation.
Sometime before the story, the Master (played by Derek Jacobi) lost his TARDIS and he has struck an alliance with the Daleks to help him find it. It’s deep beneath the surface of the Viscoid, and he assumes the identity of the Doctor in order to facilitate its retrieval. He plans to betray the Daleks at the first opportunity, but the Daleks have anticipated his betrayal. The Master and the Gardezzians have a common enemy, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are all on the same side.
The primary purpose of this initial “War Master” story is to reintroduce the Derek Jacobi Master to the audience. He plays the “Doctor” very much in the style of Patrick Troughton, and his true self reminds me in turns of Colin Baker and Anthony Ainley. I’m not going to tell how the conflict is resolved, but when the Master has regained his TARDIS, he receives an “emergency recall” from Gallifrey. Out of curiosity, he decides to accept.
THE GOOD MASTER (by Janine H Jones):
“The Time War rages around Arcking - a planet serving as a sanctuary for the sick and injured. But Arcking is protected by a mysterious, powerful force: a force the Master will stop at nothing to harness… even if time itself is against him.”
COMMENTARY: “The Good Master” does not pick up directly from the end of “Beneath the Viscoid”. As the story opens, The Master is masquerading as a doctor (as opposed to the Doctor) on the planet Arcking. I assume he is on a mission for the Time Lords, but the thread of his recall to Gallifrey is not picked up. Arcking is surrounded by a field of temporal grace and is a “fixed point” in space as well as time,” something of which there are few of anymore at this stage in the time war. There is something about the planet that not only revitalizes those sick and injured in the Time War, but is also proof against the Daleks. Both the Time Lords and the Daleks are trying to figure out just exactly what it is.
In these “War Master” stories, the Master seems to be stuck in the pattern of doing the right thing but for the wrong reason. If things go south, however, he doesn’t get too broken up if innov=cents must pay the price. The heart of the planet is both telepathic and sentient. When one of the human characters touches it, it becomes anchored in space and time, the fierld of grace collapses and the Daleks attack. It is suggested that perhaps the Time Lords wanted the Master to come in contact with the heart of theplanet for reasons of their own. The Master says that sometimes pawns must fall (meaning the entire planet Arking) in order fr the King to survive. “Long Live the King!”
I should mention something about the theme music for The Master. If you can imagine the theme from Get Smart, arranged by Led Zeppelin in a minor key and scored for orchestra you’ll be close.
You should find and listen to the War Doctor one as well.
And the theme from The Diary of River Song. (I particually like that one.)
THE SKY MAN (by James Goss):
“When his new companion decides to save a planet, the Master indulges this most futile of requests. Materialising on a primitive, agrarian world, both the strangers quickly find their place in it… until fallout from the War invades their happy paradise.”
COMMENTARY: The Master has taken on one of the characters from “The Good Master,” Cole Jarnish, as his new companion. Cole is the one “responsible” for the collapse of the field of temporal grace which surrounded the planet Arcking. This is not the first time we have seen the Master take a companion; he also travelled with the Eighth Doctor’s former companion Tamsin Drew for a time. In each case, he has chosen a basically good person whose naiveté makes him or her easy to manipulate and lead astray. As the story opens, the Master shows Cole a list of 15 planets in need of savings and, with no further information, basically asks him to decide which planet will live and which will die.
Cole (reluctantly) makes his choice and they land on the primitive, agrarian world mentioned in the summary above. The Master immediately goes off on his own to start a grape orchard and to try his hand at making wine, leaving Cole to be taken in by a farmer and his daughter. Most of the populace distrusts him, but he is a great help to the folks he’s living with. These people are aware of the Time War, but have so far managed to stay beneath the notice of either the Daleks or the Time Lords due to their lack of technology.
Cole and the woman develop the beginnings of a romantic relationship. One night, an attack from an unknown source comes from the sky, bringing pestilence, famine and disease. The townsfolk blame Cole, whom they call “The Sky Man,” and try to lynch him. He is shot, but his survival suit saves him. He later modifies the suit to save the life of the man he is staying with, then begins to mass-produce the suits for everyone. In the meantime, the Master keeps to himself growing his grapes. Occasionally he will “secretly” help the farmers.
Many years pass and eventually, the people of the planet must become sealed in their survival suits permanently. Eventually, they begin to even sound almost exactly like Daleks. When Cole cannot tell them who attacked them all those years ago, they resolve to move out into space, seeking vengeance against all races they encounter. “We must have retribution!” they shout in their metallic voices.
Cole is crushed by the evil thing he has done. The Master points out that Cole should have died on Arcking; he is a paradox. Furthermore, all of the inhabitants of this planet should be dead, making them a paradox created by a paradox. Cole realizes that, if this race ever makes it into the Time War, he has “accidentally” created one of the most powerful weapons in history.
THE HEAVENLY PARADIGM (by Guy Adams):
“With his plans approaching fruition, the Master travels to Stamford Bridge in the 1970s: a location he believes might hold the key to his success. But what terrible secret lurks under the stairs of No. 24 Marigold Lane? And what sacrifices will the Master make in the name of ultimate victory?”
COMMENTARY: So far in this set, the Master either has been shown doing the right thing for the wrong reason, or willing to let the end justify any means. In either case, he revels in the chaos of the Time War. This episode begins with him declaring to Cole that he’s going to put an end to it. He takes them to the time and place noted in the summary above, and ends up interacting with a Time Lord masquerading as a little old lady but who is really in charge of the “Heavenly Paradigm,” which is a timeline manipulator based in temporal possibility theory. What it does is to examine every instance with multiple outcomes (turn right, turn left), and chooses the “right” one. Utilizing it could, theoretically, win the Time War, but it would remove all freedom of choice from the universe.
The female Time Lord’s intention is to direct it at the Daleks, specifically, but the Master plans to turn it upon the entire universe, using Cole’s paradox energy as a living battery. (Cole will not survive the experience, of course.) this the Master now does, and a probability wave spreads out from their current space/time coordinates. At first, the results are satisfactory. For example, a planet whose inhabitants used up all of their natural resources and ultimately made their planet uninhabitable have now made different choices and are now a leading exporter of clean energy.
But then things start to go wrong. A formerly beautiful resort planet has inexplicably been rendered uninhabitable, and other things have gone wrong as well. Rewriting the entire universe is too big of a job for the Heavenly Paradigm and it is quickly burning itself out. The Master forsees the Daleks gaining control of the Cruciform and winning the Time War. It is at this point that he withdraws and retreats to the end of time. It is not like Big Finish to so neatly tie things to the televised series, but there’s also the sound of a baby crying at the end the Master indicating that the universe will always need a Master. I’m not sure what that was about. In the future, I think I will slot this set after the Gallifrey and Eighth Doctor Time War sets but just before the War Doctor sets.
I’m going to take a (slight) break from the Time War to go even further back in time to the follow-up to Doom Coalition featuring the Eighth Doctor. When I return, I will go to the beginning of the Time War in the Gallifrey set.
"It is not like Big Finish to so neatly tie things to the televised series, but there’s also the sound of a baby crying at the end the Master indicating that the universe will always need a Master. I’m not sure what that was about."
I listened to the “extras” disc on my lunch hour. Sometimes doing so yields insights to nuances I might otherwise have missed. Here’s the deal with the baby crying at the end. Russel T. Davies pointed out that Big Finish couldn’t use Derek Jacobi as the War Master because it was established in “Utopia” that Jacobi wasn’t the Master during the Time War. But Big Finish is nothing if not resourceful, so they suggested, “What if the Master reverted to a baby at the end?” That was okay with RTD. Jacobi’s voiceover at the end was intended to have come from inside the watch fob. The War Master will be back with in the new UNIT set this May. (I guess the UNIT set must take place before the War Master set.)