Big Finish Eighth Doctor adventures: Dark Eyes 4 box set

So the Dark Eyes 4 box set is with us – and as such the franchise is finally closed, with the four-story narrative neatly (and sometimes not so neatly) wrapping up this, and other, Big Finish story arcs.

Dark Eyes 4

The writing credits are jointly shared by BF alumni Matt Fitton and John Dorney, with Fitton also showrunning and defining the arc.

The series opens with Dorney’s A Life in the Day: Liv and the Doctor are in London, being chased by alien assassins for unknown reasons, and tying up with the Donaldson siblings, who may be hiding more than they admit. For me this is possibly the best of the bunch. Without giving too much away, ALitD provides a new angle on an old SF trope, and its an extremely interesting one. It asks questions of the genre that have generally been left unasked before, namely, what does it feel like to be the one the, um, don’t want to spoil, the one the thing isn’t happening to in the relationship, and for this reason alone it makes the boxset worth the asking price. Of course, there are many other reasons too…

Next up is Fitton’s The Monster of Monmartre, which is set in Paris as any fule kno. Something has happened to time, leading to the replacement of the Moulin Rouge with a giant pagoda, the owner of which is not all that he seems. And this, too, is a doozy, and also probably the best of the bunch. As regular readers of my reviews will know, I am a fan of the bonkers in Who, and TMoM provides bonkers imagery up there with the best of them. All I can say is, there is a King Kong/Godzilla moment that is pure Who, and all the better for it – and for this reason alone it makes the boxset worth the asking price. Of course there are many other reasons too…

Third is Dorney’s Master of the Daleks, a tale that delivers exactly what it says on the tin, and then some. Daleks more paranoid than ever, McQueen’s Master, Sontarans, whose slave race and cloning history fits perfectly into the Daleks’ plans, and a plot-shift to Russia right when it’s least expected. McQueen’s Master should be noted here: he is fast becoming as defining a Master as Missy off of the telly – possibly more so – and for this reason alone it makes the boxset worth the asking price.

The fourth story of the arc, Fitton’s Eye of Darkness, is very obviously a finale. Less a narrative continuation – although that is there – and more a tying up of loose ends. And it works well at this: Molly’s story is finally properly explained (and her inclusion in the narrative, given the practical problems of actors’ availability for recording, is both clever and well realised); and similarly, the Eminence is at last given a reason for existing that actually works. For many, including me, the Lord of the Space Zombies has so far been a paper-thin baddie, but this goes a long way to making up for that – even if its reveal as a groan-inducing bacronym, for example, stretches credulity a little. In fact, that bacronym is so bad it’s a little bit glorious – and for this reason alone… etc. et.c

All in all, Dark Eyes 4 is pretty good. Performances are lovely as ever, especially McQueen. Liv Chenka finally feels like a real companion rather than the mopey bot-wrangler of old. Loose ends, as stated above, are tied up. All credit, then, to the writers, the actors, sound designers and director Ken Bentley.

But what I will say is that it feels that it’s the right time for it to end. The Dark Eyes story really does feel like it’s run its course, and any more would be too much. And, blasphemous as this is, I wonder if that’s true for Eighth Doctor boxsets as a whole? Couldn’t he come back to the main range for a bit? A few episodic, unrelated stories, like in the olden days? It feels an eternity since the golden days of To The Death and the previous Lucy Miller and Charley Pollard stories.

But if we can’t, if we have to stick with boxsets, then Dark Eyes is not a bad template. Looking forward to the next Eighth Doctor adventures: Doom Coalition, here we come…

Updated: March 20, 2015 — 12:55 pm

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