Monday, 23 June 2014
REVIEW - DOCTOR WHO - DESTROY THE INFINITE (SPOILER-FREE)
It's finally here. the Doctor's first meeting with the Eminence!
It may be the Doctor's first meeting with them, but not ours. Audio aficionados who follow Big Finish religiously will no doubt know about the Eminence. We'll ignore the gaseous form and ability to turn others into it's slaves and focus more on the timey-wimey nature of their encounters with the Doctor (from an out-of-universe POV).
When they first showed up in Spaceport Fear, the Doctor already knew them, but the audience didn't. Then earlier this year, the Doctor met them again, but the Eminence didn't know who he was. And now finally, the Doctor is facing them for a third time. Only - his time he doesn't know who or what the Eminence is.
I applaud Nick Briggs for introducing a very interesting villain in this very unusual, but very Doctor Who-ish manner. It's so boring watching Doctor Who from beginning to end in that order. It's time travel people! Cue the non-linear storytelling.
Destroy the Eminence - sorry, I mean Destroy the Infinite (I keep getting that wrong for some reason) introduces the Doctor to the Eminence as he and Leela arrive on the planet Delafoss ruled by this mysterious creature. It's a romp from beginning to end as the usual Doctor Who formula of Doctor and companion being separated and experiencing the plot at opposite ends of the spectrum comes into play. It's old and cliched, but still works thanks to the differing routes being interesting.
Unfortunately I can't say much about the plot, but I will say that it feels very much like a war movie. I will also mention that the Eminence and it's servants really come across as threatening/menacing as it was in their previous stories. The danger bar is still raised. This is important as normally in Doctor Who, the danger surrounding new recurring villains tend to get watered down the more often they show up. This is kind of why the Daleks look more like a joke than a menace. They've been featured so many times, it's unreasonable to imagine this not happening. Thankfully as I've said, the unique introduction has really helped sell me on the whole Eminence threat. Very River Song-esque. It works. Keep it up.
Onto the characters. There are quite a lot of them actually. For a Big Finish script anyway. This results in almost half the cast members voicing multiple characters. However, the whole 'they all sound alike' problem that can sometimes arise doesn't here and all of them sound fresh. Special shout out goes to Ian Hallard who voices multiple Infinite Warriors and still manages to make them all sound uniquely different. Special kudos to you sir!
Now we get to the things that didn't work. Fortunately the list isn't long. Unfortunately the list contains Leela. She comes across as too pious in this story. This is normally not an issue as Leela's character is designed to be very loyal to the Doctor, but in this story she felt too loyal - as if nothing in the universe could break her belief. It just felt a little much if you catch my drift. Another issue would be the unusually slow pace of episode 1. It covers all the bases, but feels a little unnecessary in certain parts. I also thought that the Doctor's extraordinarily apt resistance to taking the Breath of Forever a little too easy an escape. It dulls the threat level a little. This is especially bad since we know from past stories (set later in the Doctor's life) that the Breath of Forever is extremely potent and powerful.