Doom Coalition 1

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The Time Lords bring the Doctor and Liv to Gallifrey to help when one of their most dangerous criminals, the Eleven, escapes.

 

Picking up where Dark Eyes 4 left off, the Doctor is still travelling with med-tech Liv Chenka. Played by the excellent Nicola Walker, she’s lost some of her world-weariness of the previous series, and is in a better place to enjoy travelling with the Doctor. Paul McGann remains excellent in the role; his rich, mellifluous voice as effective as usual on audio stories.

As the pair finish one adventure, the TARDIS whisks them to Gallifrey to begin the next one. In a previous incarnation the Doctor helped to capture a dangerous Time Lord criminal called the Eleven, who has been imprisoned in the Capitol ever since. One of the great things about the way Big Finish operates, compared to the television series, is that they can easily drop cameos in from previous Doctors, and we get a nice pre-title scene here.

Programme Name: Doctor Who - TX: 14/11/2013 - Episode: THe Night of the Doctor (No. n/a) - Embargoed for publication until: 14/11/2013 - Picture Shows: Special mini-episode 'The Night of the Doctor' to reveal the Doctor's dark chapter. Starring Paul McGann, this BBC iPlayer exclusive will for the first time ever reveal what became of the 8th Doctor. On the eve of his most terrible battle, the Time Lord is faced with a choice that will change the course of his life. The darkest of days are about to begin. The Doctor has always been a man of secrets - and now they can be told .... The Doctor (PAUL McGANN) - (C) BBC - Photographer: adrian Rogers

The first episode, The Eleven by Matt Fitton, is set largely on the Doctor’s home planet, revelling in Gallifreyan lore and continuity, while highlighting the changes that Romana’s reign as Lady President have wrought. It’s part-detective story, as the Doctor leads the investigation into the Eleven’s escape. The Doctor’s search for the fugitive is hindered by the usual Time Lord bureaucracy, but helped another contemporary from the Academy. There are a couple of characters here that I hope will be re-visited, particularly Pandac,  the Doctor’s old friend, played by Robert Bathurst.

The Eleven himself is a brilliant creation, a Time Lord criminal in his eleventh body who has a type of schizophrenia that means he’s constantly battling for control with his former incarnations. He literally struggles with self-control. It’s a great idea, and he’s played with huge menace by Mark Bonnar (seen on TV in The Almost People/The Rebel Flesh). Even more impressive, Bonnar provides the voices for each distinct incarnation of the Time Lord.

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The Eleven calls his various personalities by their incarnation order, the One, the Two and so on, rather like the way newer fans refer to the different Doctors simply as numbers. It’s one of a few ways the Eleven subtly reflects the Doctor, albeit in a very exaggerated manner – the One is a fusty old archivist, the Six rather boorish. This isn’t overdone though, and Big Finish have succeeded in creating their own memorable Time Lord villain to rank alongside the Master, the Rani, Morbius and Omega.

Much like the Dark Eyes anthologies, this is a series of four linked stories, this time following the Doctor’s hunt for the Eleven. An anomaly brings the search to 1960s London in John Dorney’s The Red Lady. This is the highlight of this set, a brilliantly creepy story. The nature of the threat posed by the eponymous lady is very much in the vein of modern TV Doctor Who. It plays with ideas about perception, and the power that stories and art have over us.  We are introduced a new character: Helen Sinclair, played by Hattie Morahan. She joins the TARDIS, the first companion taken from the 60s since Ben and Polly, As a historian Helen makes a nice counterpart to the futuristic Liv Chenka, a little like the pairing of Barbara and Ian.

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The new crew are then lured to Renaissance Italy when Marc Platt’s The Galileo Trap is sprung. The Doctor and Galileo are old friends, although this the first time he has met the Eighth Doctor. Their only previous meeting we’ve been privy to is also in spin-off media, in the First Doctor Virgin Missing Adventure The Empire of Glass. John Woodvine plays Galileo. It’s a sad, quietly moving performance, as he portrays the famous astronomer towards the end of his life. He spent his twilight years under house arrest after being tried by the Inquisition, and here he’s a man with no more appetite for the conflict that the Doctor’s adventures bring.

The Galileo Trap gives Helen her first taste of time travel and the dangers inherent in TARDIS life. Like the preceding story, it shares DNA with the current TV series; this time it’s a pseudo-historical with a famous figure from the past. This all leads to a finale in The Satanic Mill, written by Big Finish newcomer Edward Collier. A dangerous mystery aboard a space station in our solar system, where the Eleven’s plan involves a familiar Time Lord artefact, with tantalising hints seeded for future exciting Doom Coalition instalments.

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Order the Doom Coalition 1 CD Boxset:

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