The Time War Volume Four is a Doctor Who audio boxset from Big Finish Productions and stars Paul McGann as the Doctor. He is joined by Rakhee Thakrar as his companions, Bliss. Terry Molloy reprises his role as the mad, crippled scientist Davros, Nicholas Briggs returns as the Daleks. He plays the Dalek Emperor and the Dalek Time Strategist as well. Basically, he still just voices the Daleks. Helen Goldwyn directs this whole saga. There are three stories that comprise this collection.
John Dorney starts off this set with the two-parter entitled Palindrome. This focuses on Davros and his various guises throughout various realities. Molloy gets to play the role as a pleasant chap who was never injured during a war with the Thals on Skaro and therefore does not have the creepy mechanical voice. Not to worry though, that version of Davros shows up from another reality. The Time Strategist is making its own plans, which would explain the moniker. The Doctor and Bliss are caught up in various realities where they sometimes don’t surprise. It’s all gloriously confusing, but Molloy’s performance is compelling enough for me to not care that I am struggling to follow the plot. Of course, McGann knows his Doctor and is great as usual. I have no complaints about McGann and Thakrar. Bliss as a character is fine, but she does seem a little too similar to a couple of the Doctor’s previous companions. In particular, companions who have traveled with this version of the Doctor. I have yet to dislike a Dorney script, but he does go for broke on these epic confrontations. It’s a solid start to this collection, but it may take a couple of listening sessions to fully grasp what is going on.
A newer contributor to the Big Finish scripts is Lisa McMullin and is the writer of Dreadshade. Julia McKenzie returns as the Twelve, who was formerly the Eleven, the Time Lord whose previous personalities remain in prominence at the same time after each regeneration. McKenzie is considered an acting legend in England and was recently playing Ms. Marple on television not all that long ago. She’s great, although the Twelve isn’t my favorite Big Finish idea as a villain. The Doctor and Bliss arrive on Gallifrey with no memory of each other, and the Time Lords know some kind of war took place, however they had not memory of who they thought. Dreadshade is some woman frightened of Time Lords who is also a mysterious weapon. This was an intriguing story idea and may actually be my personal favorite in this particular collection. So I am hopeful that McMullin will have some further opportunities to add to the Doctor Who universe.
Restoration of the Daleks is the concluding episode written by veteran Doctor Who writer Matt Fitton, The Daleks have re-emerged from the multiverse and they and the Daleks go at it tooth and claw. The Doctor has a confrontation with both the Time Strategist and Davros. Once again, it gets a little hard to interpret what is exactly happening among the sometimes dizzying sound effects.
With this, The Time War saga concludes, however it also sets up the Doctor for further confusing and compelling adventures. This fourth volume had some ambitious ideas which are realized quite well. Of course, the performances and the post production work really gets the adrenaline going. McGann is still a compelling presence. He plays off well against Molloy, but the performers are old hats. The writing from all three stories varied pretty minimally in the quality. I may have enjoyed Dreadshade a bit more than the other two, but the whole set was an enjoyable ride. Fortunately, Big Finish is a long way from being done with Paul McGann’s version of the Doctor.