Reviewed By: Eiphel
Review Date: 8/19/10 1:11 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.
[Very Large Spoilers]
[Do not read ANY further unless you have already heard that story.]
[Very Large Spoilers]
I knew coming in that this was based on 'What if the Doctor believed the ends justified the means?' and I wish I hadn't. For a long time it seems like a fairly traditional story, albeit with quite a brooding Doctor, and it would have been quite a mystery what the actual premise was. The revelation was shocking enough in how far it went even knowing what the basic idea would be; it would have been stunning if I'd heard it blind.
Essentially, after two plays that placed traditional Doctors in divergent circumstances, this story takes a traditional setting and drops in a wildly divergent Doctor. This is really, really making good on the 'Unbound' concept, and BF deserve a big clap on the back for the audacity.
That said, I don't think it's quite as enjoyable a story as the first two. The plot starts well, with quite a richly promising set up. It's very traditional, but it's still got a lot going on. Once we get to the Doctor showing his ruthless side though, the plot sort of burns away. After all, if the Doctor is willing to solve every problem with a few bullets then the story can't help but end abruptly. I'm not sure how Bishop could have got around this, so I don't think it's a fault of his, but it does mean that the story pulls up somewhat short at the end.
The other issue is that the twenty-odd years the Doctor spent with Ruth didn't feel like they existed. They only get a few cursory nods, and I didn't form any impression of what their life had been like for all that time. It's a shame, because I think it robbed some of the impact from the near-end scenes when Ruth is becoming more and more horrified with the Doctor. The problem was, I didn't really have any notion of how she'd previously percieved him.
Collings is really good, and rather chilling, as this essentially villainous Doctor. I think I'd have liked to see a few more touches of remorse in his performance, to give a bit more suggestion that he was just ruthlessly pragmatic, rather than psychopathic, but that's a matter of taste.
The rest of the cast is solid, but I didn't think any of them were really standout, and Ed Bishop didn't really work for me post-transformation. I think a lot of the guest cast did get some slightly corny lines which hampered them somewhat (I thought the same about Bishop's Enemy of the Daleks).
On the whole though, two thumbs up for really seizing the concept for all its worth, which merits a strong 7/10 despite all my nitpicking. It might even get bumped up to an 8 on relisten, because I confess I was distracted by feeling pretty ill this time.