Reviewed By: Drew Vogel
Review Date: 6/20/17 1:22 am
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This is far from a good story. In fact, it's just plain bad. But it's bad with some conspicuously good elements mixed in. This story has a big, epic, important feel to it, which can sometimes be very appealing. The pre-title sequence is stunning. The cliffhanger at the end of Part One is properly jaw-dropping. The big emotional scene between the Doctor and Charley is pretty effective. The resolution of the story is very good, and the teaser for "Zagreus" is pretty powerful too.
Unfortunately, the script is so tortuously overwritten that most of the moments as squandered. The jaw-dropping thing about the cliffhanger to Part One is that they find Rassilon's corpse, but this is revealed in such a bombastic and overwrought manner that you can see it coming miles away even if you didn't see it coming. Same with the teaser for "Zagreus". Just as you're thinking to yourself "Oh my God, the Doctor is Zagreus!", the Doctor spends the next minute telling you that he's Zagreus. The script is full of poor writing like that, as if the author has somehow failed to notice that the Time Lords' tendency toward pomposity is not an attractive trait.
But worse than that, the story is a complete mess. For one thing, the author never got around to deciding which story he wanted to tell, so he started telling one story and simply changed it halfway through. Part One is all about the Charley Paradox, which is threatening to destroy all of history. In a moment which I consider to be a personal vindication, Vansell even admits that there's no reason why Charley surviving the R101 crash should cause any problems, it just somehow did. This, the central plot point we've been following ever since Charley was introduced, literally has no explanation. It just happened for no reason. Be that as it may, it's still a problem in need of solving, and in Part One, the idea is that Romana, Vansell, and the Doctor have to travel to a universe of anti-time using Charley as a kind of interdimensional gateway in order to find some means of saving history.
Once they get there, though, the idea that history is under threat is conveniently dropped. Instead, the story is about the Neverpeople, who were erased from history by the Time Lords and now want revenge. Either by playing on his greed, manipulating him, or just mind-controlling him (all three explanations are offered at various points in the story),the Neverpeople trick Vansell into taking an anti-time bomb back to Gallifrey, and that's what will destroy history. The Neverpeople are so angry at having been erased from history that they want to destroy history altogether. It's not much of a motivation.
And it's not much of a story, if you can even call it a story. It's a series of narrative and emotional beats padded out with over-written dialogue to make up the running time.