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< 63. Caerdroia
65. The Juggernauts >

64. The Next Life

Rating Votes
10
6%
7
9
9%
10
8
24%
28
7
17%
20
6
23%
27
5
10%
11
4
9%
10
3
0%
0
2
1%
1
1
1%
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Average Rating
6.8
Votes
115
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Reviewed By: JacobzReview Date: 12/27/17 8:16 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

The Next Life concludes the long-running DiVergent Universe arc with a finale running 3 hours long. You will spend most of it waiting for something meaningful to happen.

The Next Life brings the Doctor, Charley, and C'rizz to a mysterious moon and reunites them with figures from their past. They must find each other (and themselves) and figure out how to escape the Divergent Universe before it is too late.

McGann turns in a good performance as the Doctor, as do India Fisher and Conrad Westmaas as Charley and C'rizz. Don Warrington's Rassilon, previously so captivating in Zagreus, feels more a shadow of himself. Anneke Wills also reprises her role as Charley's mother from Zagreus, and it's always a delight to hear her voice. Daphne Ashbrook also makes an appearance as Patience, and she is delightful. The rest of the supporting cast likewise turns in fine performances.

It's a shame that, with little exception, most of the cast members are given very little good material to actually perform. Charley turns into a bratty child, bickering with C'rizz at every opportunity, and C'rizz responds in kind. Charles is monstrously out of character here. I'd say the same for C'rizz, but he hasn't had much of a character to start with. He's felt bland since his introduction story, and I haven't yet found a reason to like him. In this story, he flounders all over the place and isn't once empathetic or even believable. Rassilon seems to appear only to check off a box tying this to his previous appearance in Zagreus, and doesn't in fact do or say much of anything. Anti-Time and the Divergents reappear, but they still feel empty and purposeless. Zagreus as a character/force still makes no sense. The danger of the Doctor's relationship to anti-time is waved away and ignored, devaluing Romana's warnings in Zagreus.

I rate this story so low not just because it's a dull story, but a bad finale as well. The Divergent Universe was supposed to be this radically different and new environment for the writers and characters to explore. All new characters! New universe! Anti-Time! What it really all amounts to is a bunch of stories ranging from dull to decent featuring occasionally interesting characters that just don't know the word "time". At risk of being too on-the-nose, the entire arc feels like just what it's called: a divergence. A long, irrelevant tangent that does nothing at best and actively depreciates characters at worst (the sole exception to this is The Natural History of Fear, which is one of the best Doctor Who stories, ever). The Doctor/Charley dynamic feels both devalued by this arc and saddled with C'rizz, He-Without-Character. I understand that the writers were urged to wrap up the Divergent arc far sooner then planned when the TV series' return was announced, and I'm sure that accounts for many of the problems here and in general. Still, I can't quite believe how many hours I just spent listening to my favorite TARDIS pair that varied mostly between bland and outright offensive. I'm at least glad I bought this story and the arc it concludes at a massive discount on sale. An overly-long, dull conclusion to a dull arc.
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Reviewed By: Drew VogelReview Date: 8/1/17 6:55 pm
2 out of 2 found this review helpful.

I've always grouped "Neverland", "Zagreus", and "The Next Life" together in my mind. They have a lot in common. On the positive side, they are all epic-scale adventures for the eighth Doctor and Charley. They're the big, significant stories that chart out the major turns of the ongoing narrative of those early eighth Doctor adventures. As such, they're quite significant for Big Finish as well. But on the negative side, they're all bloated, rambling, exposition-heavy, and tedious. I don't think it's any coincidence that they share these characteristics. It's precisely because these stories are so self-consciously important that they fail as stories. Their very epic-ness is exactly what brings them down.

The script is so concerned about being big and important that it doesn't bother to come up with a workable story. There is a story here, but it is told to us almost entirely through exposition, and it has almost nothing to do with the Doctor, Charley, and C'rizz. It's this semi-mythological story about a special planet that holds the key to escaping the Divergent Universe. The story consists of a bunch of characters competing with one another to escape. After they all get in each other's way, the Doctor and friends are able to escape, even though none of them even knew that escape was even a possibility before.

To put it more simply, none of the characters has any real agency. They're all just acting out whatever convoluted series of events the writer needs them to follow in order for the conclusion to come out right. And it's even worse than that, because most of the character spend most of the story doing things that have almost nothing to do with the story at all. Like Rassilon and Kro'Ka putting Charley and C'rizz through pointless hallucinations in Part One, and the endlessly tiresome flirting between Perfection and the Doctor (which is nothing but fan service anyway... the only reason Perfect is even in this story is so that they could cast Daphne Ashbrook, and the only reason to cast Daphne Ashbrook is because she played Grace in the TV movie). Eventually, after a whole story's worth of plot developments that don't lead anywhere, Keep, Perfection, and Guidance simultaneously explain the story to the Charley, the Doctor, and C'rizz (respectively). Nothing that happens before that point matters.

As bad as this is, it isn't as bad as "Zagreus". There's some genuinely strong character work going on here, especailly for Charley. The script heavily retcons C'rizz, but this mostly makes up for the fact that he was never given much of a character at all before now. The script also just abandons the idea that the Doctor can never return to his home universe by telling us that it was never really true in the first place. After telling us that the Doctor entered this universe in the first place to find Rassilon (another retcon), the Doctor takes little interest in him when they finally meet. And Rassilon himself is retconned yet again... as it is revealed that he's been trapped in the Divergent Universe for untold millennial (which raises the question of how he was able to participate in "Zagreus").

As for the Divergent Universe arc itself (judged separately from the individual stories that comprise it), this story is just one big white flag of surrender. It doesn't resolve the issues that have been teased along the way. At least, not satisfactorily. The Divergents themselves never even appear. It just wraps up the arc in a totally arbitrary manner, with a few throwaway references to "Zagreus" and "Scherzo" to make it look like there was some kind of plan all along. I don't believe it for a second. It seems pretty clear to me that no one at any point had any idea what they were doing. I chose my three "Other Recommendations" deliberately. Other than the introduction of C'rizz and Kro'Ka, nothing that happened in any of the stories since "Scherzo" has any significance at all to "The Next Life".
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Reviewed By: newt5996Review Date: 6/26/15 7:59 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

After it was announced that Doctor Who would return to our television screens in 2004, the team at Big Finish decided to stop the Divergent Universe arc two seasons early so not to confuse possible new listeners which really detracts from this finale. There is a lot of potential of a great story in these six parts but sadly because of how many plans had to be cut down into a second season that, while improving greatly upon the first season of the arc didn't introduce who or what the Divergence is, but reveals the mastermind to be Rassilon, who has the Kro'ka for a servant in a well suited role but a step down from the sinister force introduced in The Creed of the Kromon, who is the most enjoyable parts of the story. We are also introduced to Perfection aka the Zagreus entity played by Daphne Ashebrook, who is great, and Guidance, C'rizz's father (maybe, kind of, sort of) played by Paul Darrow, who other than Darrow giving a good performance is forgettable. The final character in this trio is the sound creature from Scherzo, Keep who is also married to Perfection which is where all of the fun comes in the second half of the story. Their interactions are great and the final exchange is just deliciously evil. I say this is all the fun in the second half because after Part Two the story gets really boring until Part Six which is an improvement and makes this story an average one if it weren't for the acting being so good for most of the parts. A real missed opportunity for the end to an arc, but for what it is it is just above average with its quality if a tad too long for a story.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
7
Plot Rating:
6
Acting Rating:
8
Replay Rating:
6
Effects Rating:
7
Has Prerequisite(s):
Yes
Reviewed By: adamelijahReview Date: 4/2/15 2:11 am
0 out of 1 found this review helpful.

The Divergent Universe saga comes to an end in the Next Life as the TARDIS crashes and the Doctor, Charley, and C'Rizz crash on a strange blue planet and are separated and Rassilon takes a hand and move towards his ultimate goal.

This story answers most questions about the Divergent Universe and how a Universe without time functions (and what exactly it means to be in a Universe without time) and it's diabolically clever. Nearly all the questions I had throughout the saga were answered. They rarely made it feel like we were getting a ton of exposition thrown at us even if our heroes had arrived on the Planet of the Back Story.

The guest cast is solid including the return of Daphne Ashbrooke (who played the Eighth Doctor's TV companion) as the intriguing Perfection.

Paul McGann turns in a fine performance as the Doctor. In his last appearance as the Incumbent Doctor, the Eight Doctor is a mix of sarcasm, a bit of whimsy, and a lot of courage, cleverness, and compassion. The Doctor's concern for his companions defines him which goes contrary to so much of what Rassilon suggested.

Charlotte Pollard is superb in this story as she had been all Season. Though there is one off moment with her at the end. But more on that later.

Rassilon and Keep are great villains that play off each other, though it tends to guarantee that one will take care of the other leaving the Doctor only one to contend with and perhaps less.

OVerall, there's a labyrinthine plot which mostly turns in interesting and unexpected ways. I appreciated the very end which set the stage for the next portion of their adventures.

On to negatives. I really had mixed feelings about the developments with C'Rizz. It fills in some backstory but essentially make him a companion more susceptible to mind control plots than Kamelion.

The later part of the story where the Doctor holds all their hopes and futures hostage to the C'Rizz and Charley making up after a serious row and betrayal seems a bit forced particularly when each of them give a speech. The Charley speech is good except is alleged that there was some prior resentment with C'Rizz or jealousy which in no way was shown or even hinted at in the prior stories.

Also the cynical anti-religious element was a bit tiresome since they already did a whole story about religion earlier in the Season, three releases previous.

While the final scene was a perfect set up for the ongoing adventures of this TARDIS crew, there were parts that felt more contrived and less natural.

The story is also padded. The simple plot has the TARDIS crashing on a planet and the Doctor and Companions running about outside for most of the story. Even with all the revelations, there's no reason for this story to be a six part three hour plus epic.

Still, the acting is all very good, and we have some great concepts. Still, this would have been a better story had it been a tad shorter.