“The Time War 2” is a Doctor Who audio boxset released by Big Finish Productions and stars Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor. Rakhee Thakrar plays his companion, Bliss, alongside McGann in this collection of four episodes. The epic battle between the Time Lords and the Daleks looms ever closer as the Doctor tries desperately to avoid being pulled into it. The Time Lords won’t let him out that easily, and an old adversary now known as the Twelve makes matters even more complicated.
Jonathan Morris kicks this collection off with “The Lords of Terror” where the Doctor takes Bliss to her home planet where its history has been altered, and it seems that the Daleks aren’t the ones responsible. The Doctor finds that his own people are quite willing to break some rules and cross some lines in order to come out on top which will test his allegiance. Morris usually has some interesting story ideas, and this episode is no different. The chance to explore Bliss’s background is appreciated. I find Bliss likeable but not really all that unique as far as companions go. Of course, a really unique yet seemingly genuine companion that still fits with some audience expectation is probably getting harder to pull off considering the vast history of Doctor Who. Thakrar is a solid enough actress though and does well paired with McGann.
Guy Adams writes the next two stories in this set. “Planet of the Ogrons” has the Doctor meet what an Ogron who also claims to be the Doctor. The talented impressionist and actor Jon Culshaw lends his voice to this Bizarro version of the Doctor. Julia McKenzie introduces the listener to the Twelve. The Twelve is the next version of a Time Lord known as the Eleven. The Twelve has the rather unique problem of dealing with the presence of her previous incarnations rattling around in her head. She does seem to have a better handle on her other selves than her predecessor played by Mark Bonnar. This bit is all rather confusing but still fun. I guess Big Finish is now totally on board with the notion of Time Lords changing genders during regeneration that was recently introduced in the television series. It’s not my favorite idea ever for the series, but McKenzie is a great actress and handles her part well so I can roll with it. Also the role of another Time Lord Tomason, now played by Nikki Amuka-Bird, was a man when last heard in the previous boxset. The basic plot sounds pretty ridiculous even for Doctor Who, but enjoyed this one more than I expected. This may actually be my favorite in this particular set.
Adams next brings us “In the Garden of Death” where the Doctor, the Twelve, and Bliss are in a prison camp with no memories as to their identities or past until they are in the presence of the Daleks. It’s an interesting idea, however I had a little trouble buying into the notion of the Daleks providing some more subtle approaches to their interrogation techniques. It wasn’t a terrible script by any means. The cast performs well. It does bring back the recently deceased Jacqueline Pearce as Cardinal Ollistra. Obviously, she got in some audio performances not long before her death.
“Jonah” by Timothy X Atack is the final story in this particular set. The Doctor has been pressed into being the captain of a submarine on an ocean planet where the Twelve knows of a secret the Daleks want to discover. The Doctor is being referred to as Captain Jonah. It’s a solid concluding story that sets the scene for “The Time War 3”
The boxset as a whole is enjoyable. McGann, unsurprisingly, performs consistently well through all the stories. The sound effects are also well done, but Big Finish has done enough of these for that to almost go without saying. Fans who have been salivating at the idea of exploring the Eighth Doctor’s role in the Time War should find this collection satisfying. I wasn’t really a fan who felt a great need to revisit the Time War, but now that Big Finish has gone for it, I might as well join the party.