The Time War Volume Three is the continuing saga of the Eighth Doctor’s involvement in the greatest of cosmic wars between the Time Lords and the Daleks. Big Finish Productions has released another audio box set featuring Paul McGann as the Doctor with Rahkee Thakrar joining him in the TARDIS as Bliss. There are four stories in this collection all directed by Ken Bentley. The Doctor is reluctantly also working with a Time Lord known as Tamasan, played by Adele Anderson, trying to help as best he can without getting pulled into the front lines of the fight. Andrew Fettes, Tracy Wiles, and Michael Jayston are part of the guest cast as well.
State of Bliss by Matt Fitton starts off with an intriguing and somewhat confusing story of Bliss and her planet of origin. This story explores the idea of the multiverse of possibilities concerning her part in the Time War and her relationship with the Doctor. It’s a interesting idea but probably a little tough to pull off just as an audio story. McGann is pretty good here, but he has yet to put in a disappointing performance. I am not sure that I find Bliss the most interesting of the Doctor’s companions, but Fitton is a competent enough writer where I wasn’t totally lost. Likely, I will understand a bi more once I eventually listen to it again.
Lisa McMullin picks up the ball with The Famished Lands where the Doctor and Bliss find a civilization which is facing mass starvation due to the Time Lord. The solution forced upon the populace may actually end up being far worse, and the Doctor will have to find a much better solution once he learns the secrets of how the people are still surviving in such dire circumstances. This is a pretty chilling episode here and effectively presented. I am not familiar with this particular writer, or I just don’t remember what else she has written for Big Finish. This turned out to be a pretty good addition to the set.
Fugitive in Time by Roland Moore is next. The Doctor and Bliss are joined by Tamasan to find a dangerous fugitive before the Daleks do. This is also a solid addition to the set and sets up the final story by the prolific John Dorney.
He’s back….the darker side of the Doctor made real. Michael Jayston returns as the Valeyard in The War Valeyard. It may not be the most inspired of titles, but the story is interesting in that the Valeyard apparently believes himself to be the Doctor and tries to be a figure for good. However the Valeyard may not be living in the right reality, and the darkness from which he is manifested may be too strong. Jayston still sounds wonderfully menacing in this role. It’s an interesting move for Big Finish to explore what the Valeyard’s role in the Time Lord would look like.
I enjoyed this collection for the most part. Even the Valeyard coming back was handled pretty well. McGann still sounds great. Bliss is becoming a companion I am starting to appreciate more. Thakrar provides an interesting sass in the way she says some of her lines. The sound effects were well executed, but Big Finish rarely messes that up. All four stories provided some variety in mood, which is mainly due to being four different writers. I also liked the rather strained relationship between the Doctor and Tamasan. Anderson is the third actress to play this role since the series started. Thank goodness for Time Lord regeneration!
This is a solidly entertaining and somewhat profound release from Big Finish. The cast performances remain compelling. The stories have appropriately diverse settings and circumstances. Not all of it was easy to follow, but I still appreciated the experience as a whole. And the Time War will continue into a fourth volume, but that’s for another blog.