Dark Eyes 2
Written by Nicholas Briggs, Alan Barnes & Matt Fitton
Starring Paul McGann
On the back of finally witnessing how the Eighth Doctor died, now we can see how he lived and what lead him to that point in, Dark Eyes 2, the second installment in the ongoing series featuring Paul McGann as the Doctor, produced by Big Finish.
Dark Eyes was massively popular and successful and the decision to separate the Eighth Doctor’s adventures from his other selves was a great way to make them a little more special. It’s been over a year since we’ve had any McGann stories to satisfy our appetite, but has Dark Eyes 2 been worth the wait?
The story is broken up into four parts, so let’s review each separately and then evaluate the sum of its parts.
The Traitor by Nicholas Briggs
This is the Dalek story, where we find Liv Chenka (whom we met once before alongside the Seventh Doctor in Big Finish story and sequel to Tom Baker serial Robots of Death, Robophobia) on the Dalek occupied planet planet Nixyce VII, apparently working for the old pepper-pots and killing the rebellion of the planets slaves with kindness and compassion.
This story kicks off Dark Eyes 2 with a bang, literally. It feels reminiscent of the set-up in the Hartnell story The Daleks Invasion of Earth and, moreover, Big Finish’s own Dalek Empire. I was sad not to hear the terrifyingly-calm dulcet tones of the Voc Robots encountered the last time we met Liv Chenka; presumably they have been dismantled. The best and most shocking part of this first installment is the Doctor’s arrival and his agenda; however, it’s Nicola Walker as Liv Chenka who really steals the show here. Honourable mention should also go to Chris Porter as Carna, the leader of the revolution for his impressively physical performance, regardless of the audio format.
In the next part we’re in a totally different environ, Molly O’Sullivan is still working as Nurse, but she’s moved to London and the year is 1918. It’s war time and young deserters are disappearing, dangerous forces are abroad and an old enemy of The Doctor is behind the strange happenings.
Alan Barnes does a stand up job with this historical setting; he wrote the first Big Finish story for Paul McGann, Storm Warning, and there’s another familiar enemy on the scene, and without spoiling it, it’s a Big Finish original. There are some great performances, but it’s Ian Brooker, as Doctor Herbert Goring, who is most memorable. It’s a creepy atmospheric tale.
Time’s Horizon by Matt Fitton
The Doctor and Molly find themselves at the end of creation and who should they discover there but Liv Chenka aboard a cryo exploration ship. An ancient, evil force is on a collision course with them all.
This is the first time I feel writer Matt Fittton has slightly missed his mark, he’s certainly Big Finish’s best resource at present but this adventure feels like a third story hump. It carries some important plot points, but the adventure is a little over complex for its audio format and just doesn’t quite measure up. The reveal of the returning evil is yet another Big Finish creation and for my money doesn’t quite measure up to the likes of the Daleks or The Master.
Eyes of The Master by Matt Fitton
The Doctor, Liv and Molly continue on their journey this time arriving on Earth in the 1970s. They’re revisiting and investigating the Ides Institute, but the time lines have changed and Doctor Sally Armstrong is alive and still working for the Ides but she’s got a new associate and he’s got a devastating plan. The Eyes of The Master is right back on track. Alex Macqueen is truly fantastic as The Master. He’s not the Delgado Master, but he is back in the 70s and he’s disguised as an optician and rocking a Master style alias. The set up for the next series is certainly enticing and the resolution to this quadrilogy is satisfying.
Unlike its predecessor, Dark Eyes 2 moves at a real pace. McGann is massively on form throughout the whole serial and, with fantastic performances from Ruth Bradley, Nicola Walker (who feels underused, it has to be said), Alex Macqueen, Ian Brooker, David Shaw-Parker and a wonderful cameo by unexpected Doctor Who lover Frank Skinner, it’s consistently engaging, exciting and enjoyable. It’s fascinating to see how Big Finish has been going strong for so long and is so well established that it is legitimising itself and beginning to reuse its own creations. Dark Eyes 2 has a real mishmash compilation, in a good way, of characters from different times and places.
It’s not clearly stated but these stories feel like the beginning of The Doctor’s journey in fighting against becoming part of the Time War. Dark Eyes 2 is a great second installment of the ongoing series, my only slight hesitation is a doubt in its longevity for two more seasons; how many more explanations for Molly’s eyes turning dark will feel feasible? It’s well worth a listen, but you definitely need to have heard Dark Eyes. Check them both out, they’re great for fans old and new.
BLOGTOR RATING 8/10
Thanks to Big Finish