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The second in Big Finish's Doctor Who Quadrigger Stoyn trilogy, The Dying Light was released three years' ago this month - making this one of Big Finish's most notable Big Finish releases. This trilogy formed a part of the 50th anniversary celebrations, starting with The Beginning (which I reviewed previously) and the following month's Luna Romana.
Whilst the first release followed the first Doctor and Susan, this time it's the turn of the second Doctor, Jamie (Fraser Hines) and Zoe (Wendy Padbury) as they arrive on a dying planet with a dying sun, its people living in a city carved out of rock known as the 'Sanctuary'. They soon discover a temple within the city, where Quadrigger Stoyn (Terry Molloy) has been carving equations for draining the TARDIS of power. After being stranded by the Doctor in the previous release, Quardigger now plans to strand them - and the TARDIS crew have walked straight into his trap.
The Dying Light is pretty much a by-the-numbers adventure, but it's an enjoyable one nonetheless. It doesn't do anything particularly new, but is executed as well as you would expect from a Big Finish release offering an enjoyable release all the same. Most importantly it feels like a story that fits into the 60s era of the show, with a major focus on adventure and exploration over the new series' more bombastic nature.
This audio adventure does a particularly good job of creating a vibrant and realistic world. The wonderfully poetic words of Nick Wallace helps to create a vivid image in your mind of just how the Sanctuary would appear. I loved the mention of the sea being made up of sand, for instance, and the idea of a city being carved out of rock is a very imaginative one. Even the rescue boats are given extremely descriptive words for Fraser Hines to read out loud, helping to create a world that feels like a fully-realised part of the Doctor Who Whoniverse.
The main problem with this Big Finish audio is that unlike The Beginning, The Dying Light doesn't have a hook. The Beginning was already an interesting story because it was about an essential part of the show's mythos: the first Doctor and Susan's escape from Gallifrey. The second Doctor, Jamie and Zoe doesn't have an important part of the show's history to rely on and therefore has to present a satisfying enough story to maintain the audience's interest. Whilst for the most part it succeeds, The Dying Light still isn't as interesting as its predecessor and as a result it feels like a much smaller story - perhaps a story too small for a 50th anniversary release.
It also isn't completely clear what Quadrigger Stoyn wants. He's clearly angry at the Doctor for stranding him in The Beginning but his motives behind the TARDIS trap are unclear. What exactly does he gain from draining the TARDIS's power? Surely it would make more sense for him to steal the Doctor's TARDIS and leave Sanctuary? Quadrigger Stoyn just comes across as a bitter old man rather than a worthy foe for the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe. It's a shame because Terry Molloy is clearly trying to add menace to Stoyn's actions but even his huge talent isn't enough to save the character.
Fraser Hines narration, on the other hand, is brilliant and a big reason why this release is so entertaining to listen to. He's perfect at narrating the second Doctor's lines - in fact, I'd go as far as to say he sounds exactly like Patrick Troughton - and his approach to storytelling is so engaging that you find yourself immediately drawn into the story. It wouldn't be hard to imagine Fraser Hines to narrate an episode of Jackanory should they ever decide bring the iconic kids' series back again. Fraser Hines should be hired to narrate every Doctor Who release as he has the perfect reading voice. Wendy Padbury does a good job too with speaking her character Zoe's lines but is unfortunately over-shadowed by Fraser Hines' performance.
Overall, The Dying Light is pretty much your standard 60s' Doctor Who adventure, that creates a wonderfully vibrant picture of the story's setting. Fraser Hines does an amazing job of narrating the release and the writing by Nick Wallace is impressive. However, The Dying Light suffers from the lack of an interesting hook and Quadrigger Stoyn's plan doesn't quite hold up. It doesn't make sense for him to drain the TARDIS of power when he could instead attempt to steal it from the Doctor and escape the dying planet. Hopefully Luna Romana - which I have yet to listen to - will feature one of Stoyn's better plans.