Doctor Who Audio Review: Light And Shadow At War

The Dark Planet is a Doctor Who audio drama released by Big Finish Productions and is an episode from the range known as The Lost Stories.  Brian Hayles was the initial writer, however Matt Fitton adapted the story for audio.  William Russell and Maureen O’Brien reprise their roles as Ian and Vicki, respectively, and share in narration duties.  John Banks and Charlie Norfolk are the guest performers pitching in.  Ken Bentley directed this story as well.

So this is a story that was apparently submitted or considered for broadcast during the second season of the series around 1964 or 1965.  It ended up not being made for the television series which had the late William Hartnell in the lead role at the time.

The Doctor, Ian, Barbara, and Vicki arrive on a planet during the early years of the universe and discover that the sun is dying.  It appears abandoned except for crystalline statues peppered on the surface.  They find that it is not that deserted when the find a war has been occurring among the people of Light and Shadow.

This a six part story, and that’s just too many parts for this one.  I don’t mind lengthier stories generally, but I had some trouble staying too interested in this one.  That is not the fault of the performers though.  O’Brien and Russell are both compelling narrators and actors in spite of their rather lengthy life span.  I think this was one of those stories which I found harder to visualize than many.  It may have been too costly to bring it to life on the small screen at the time.  I am not too familiar with the background of this particular story since no cast interviews were included in this release.

I guess I didn’t find anything too unique in this one, but I am glad this was released since my affection for the First Doctor era has increased in recent years.  I am just going to hope I grow to enjoy this story more once I slip it back into the CD player.  It has some interesting ideas, but it felt too long.  Also, this may have been one of the harder ones to realize fully just on audio in spite of the narration.

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