‘DARK EYES 2’
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The Eighth Doctor’s New Chapter Continues
The ‘Dark Eyes’ saga continues for the Eighth Doctor!
Following from the success of the first ‘Dark Eyes’ box set in 2012 with Paul McGann, Big Finish were given the go-ahead by the BBC to make more box sets with this new era for the Eighth Doctor. This wouldn’t be just one, but three more box sets in the ‘Dark Eyes’ series of audios in ‘Doctor Who’.
‘Dark Eyes 2’ is the second set of four-linked audio episodes of ‘Doctor Who’. This second box set stars Paul McGann as the Doctor with Ruth Bradley as Molly O’Sullivan; Nicola Walker as Liv Chenka; Natalie Burt as Dr. Sally Armstrong; Alex MacQueen as the Master and Nicholas Briggs as the Daleks.
All four episodes are directed by Nicholas Briggs. However the writing for each of the four dramas is split up between Nicholas Briggs; Alan Barnes and Matt Fitton. ‘The Traitor’ is by Nicholas Briggs; ‘The White Room’ is by Alan Barnes and ‘Time’s Horizon’ and ‘Eyes of the Master’ are by Matt Fitton.
I purchased this box set at the ‘Cardiff Film and Comic Con’ in March 2014 at the Big Finish stall. I’d been meaning to listen to this box set since then, but couldn’t find the time. Now that I have all four ‘Dark Eyes’ box sets with Paul McGann, I’m happy to listen to these audio adventures from start to finish.
This is a 5-disc CD set with the four episodes of ‘Dark Eyes 2’ on the first four discs. The fifth disc is a behind-the-scenes disc that focuses on the making of ‘Dark Eyes 2’ and features interviews with the cast and crew.
1. ‘THE TRAITOR’
This first episode is by Nicholas Briggs. It features Paul McGann as the Doctor with Nicola Walker as Liv Chenka. It also features Nick Briggs as the Daleks as they make a main appearance in this episode.
This episode takes place during the Dalek occupation and during the Dalek wars on the planet Nixyce VII. Many slaves are on the planet and many are trying to survive and resist the cruelty of the Daleks.
A resistance group tries to cause sabotage to the Dalek war effort. The Doctor turns up and reunites with Liv Chenka. They both get involved in the resistance, but who really is the traitor of humanity?
Nicola Walker returns as Liv Chenka in ‘Doctor Who’. Liv first appeared in the story ‘Robophobia’ with Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor. It was so nice to hear her return to ‘Doctor Who’ with Paul McGann.
Liv is a different person to how she was last time in ‘Robophobia’. She’s still a med-tech, but is under a lot of pressure as the Dalek are occupying Nixyce VII. She is just doing her job in order to survive.
She sounds ruthless and cold-hearted at times. Some even call her ‘the traitor’, as she seems to working for the Daleks. Liv is trying to stay alive and keep everyone else alive during the hard times.
Liv tries to save someone’s life and soon gets caught up with some rebels. They want her to take a wounded person with them, but Liv is reluctant to do so. She’s determined to take him to a hospital.
The Doctor meanwhile is on a mission of his own, although it’s unclear at first as to why he’s come to Nixyce VII. He’s certainly looking for the Daleks and he seems to know about Liv being there already.
After eavesdropping on the Daleks in the TARDIS, the Doctor goes out and carries out his mission. He passes himself off as a Roboman and acts like one when he enters into the underground Dalek base.
I found it an eerie moment when it seemed like the Doctor was definitely being robotised by the Daleks to become a Roboman and wears a helmet. But the Doctor’s not human and turns out okay.
I liked that scene when the Eighth Doctor and Liv meet for the first time. The Doctor reminds Liv of their previous meeting with each other, but Liv doesn’t believe he’s the same man she met before.
During the course of the episode, the Doctor and Liv share many dangers when passing and avoiding the Daleks on the way. Liv gradually trusts this Doctor and soon believes that he is who he says he is.
The Daleks are fantastic and brilliantly voiced by Nick Briggs here. It was quite tense when hearing the Daleks tracing the TARDIS; getting more information and discovering the Doctor is on Nixyce VII.
The Dalek Time Controller makes a return to ‘Dark Eyes 2’. It transpires that the Time Controller remembers everything that happened with Kotris in the other timeline which surprises the Doctor.
The Dalek Time Controller sounds very cunning and manipulative and Nick Briggs’ voice of it put me in mind of Davros in a way. It was so eerie when the Time Controller disregards the Daleks’ ‘excuses’.
By the end, the Doctor reveals to the Controller why he is on Nixyce VII. He wants the Daleks off the planet since a deadly force is approaching. The Daleks threaten the Doctor to give them a frequency.
The episode ends on a cliff-hanger with the Doctor giving the frequency and getting Liv upset…
‘The Traitor’ rating – 9/10
2. ‘THE WHITE ROOM’
This second episode is by Alan Barnes. It features Paul McGann as the Doctor with Ruth Bradley as Molly O’Sullivan. It also features the return of the mysterious semi-robot humanoids called Viyrans.
The episode is set in Baker Street, London, 1918 and is set towards the end of the First World War.
The Doctor comes back into Molly’s life, when she finds himself threatened within his own house at Baker Street. It was exciting to listen to the opening sequence with Molly meeting the Doctor again.
It was great to hear Molly again too. I wondered how the Doctor and Molly would meet each other again, following the first ‘Dark Eyes’ box set and how important she’d be in the rest of this epic saga.
Ruth Bradley is fantastic as Molly, with her sharp and amusing quips as she gets tough and has her caring, compassionate heart. It was so nice to hear her saying ‘Tardy-boxes’ again from the last time.
But Molly’s old trouble returns again. She’s got her ‘dark eyes’ back, which is a shock to the Doctor as much as it is a shock to her. How come she’s got her eyes dark again? What’s made this happen?
Molly and the Doctor find themselves in the midst of a dodgy plot with an evil scientist. It involves a hospital and some patients that become transparent, show their skeletons and also to travel in time.
The Doctor and Molly meet up with one of the patients, Andrew Knott as Sean Casey, who is able to jump forwards and backwards in time. The Doctor wonders why this has happened and who’s behind it all.
It’s soon discovered that it’s connected to something called ‘the white room’. This is where the experiments on the patients take place inside somewhere called the Blackwell Convalescent Home.
The Viyrans soon show themselves to be behind it all. This is the first time I’ve heard the Viyrans in ‘Doctor Who’. The Doctor has encountered them before when he was the Fifth and Sixth Doctors.
They are like deadly virus checkers and appear to be robotic but are actually humanoid inside. They look very impressive and threatening. They have this rich, deep voice when assimilating languages.
These experiments in making people transparent and showing their skeletons, are conducted by the Viyrans to discover some virus. This is something the Doctor isn’t happy with when he meets them.
I liked that moment when the Doctor tries to pass himself off as a captain to Dr. Herbert Goring and Master Zachery in order to find Molly. Sadly it doesn’t work out since he easily falls into their ‘trap’.
The Doctor manages to sort out the Viyrans when he tells one of them that they are ‘patient zero’. This causes the domino effect with the Viyrans destroying each other, which was quite a surprise.
At the end of the episode, the Doctor and Molly win the day. The Doctor heads off back to the TARDIS and is expecting Molly to join him. But Molly questions why he’s expecting her to join him.
Molly eventually tells the Doctor that she will join him, since there’s the business regarding her ‘dark eyes’ again. But she isn’t joining him yet, as she needs to sort something out in Baker Street, London.
Very soon, Molly gives the keys of 107 Baker Street to a man called David Walker. Molly tells David to look after the house, as she goes to travel with the Doctor in his ‘Tardy-box’ down in the cellar…
‘The White Room’ rating – 7/10
3. ‘TIME’S HORIZON’
This third episode is by Matt Fitton. It features Paul McGann as the Doctor with Ruth Bradley as Molly O’Sullivan and Nicola Walker as Liv Chenka. It also features the return of the deadly Eminence.
There is a resolution to the cliff-hanger ending in ‘The Traitor’, where the Daleks have their weapon, all thanks to the Doctor. It also follows up with Molly who re-joined the Doctor in ‘The White Room’.
This episode takes place on a spaceship in the far future called the Orpheus. This is a cryo-ship where the crew, including Liv as a med-tech, wake up after a very long sleep and find what they’ve missed.
The Orpheus has travelled far across space at the edge of the universe where time’s horizon waits. A deadly force is now unleashed from the mists at the universe’s edge and only the Doctor can stop it.
Things get a little timey-wimey again, as what happened to Liv in ‘The Traitor’ occurred in her past whereas for the Doctor it has yet to happen in his future. This makes things a little more interesting.
The Doctor, now travelling with Molly, visit the Orpheus after detecting this strange force emanating from time’s horizon. They try to warn the crew, but the Doctor gets called a criminal and is arrested.
Liv is the one who calls for the Doctor to be arrested, as she remembers what he did in the past with the Daleks. This shocks the Doctor and also shocks Molly when they refuse to accept what she says.
Paul McGann is great as the Doctor in this adventure. I liked how he desperately tries to warn the Orpheus crew of the impending danger that’s approaching and gets to deal with the Eminence again.
Ruth Bradley is also very good as Molly O’Sullivan in this. Molly, despite not wanting to be a long-time traveller in the TARDIS, certainly has settled in and she becomes very resourceful throughout.
Nicola Walker is very good as Liv Chenka in this. Liv has had this past following the events of ‘The Traitor’. I liked those scenes she shares with Molly and it transpires that Liv is on the verge of death.
The crew of the Orpheus are Adrian MacKinder as Captain Dal Brook; Jo Castleton as Science-Tech Vi Kruger and Ian Brooker as Comtech Bron Kell. All the crew members get taken over by the Eminence.
David Sibley returns to voice the Eminence again. The voice of the Eminence is so chilling and frightening to hear, as they take possession of people’s bodies including calcified, mummified ones.
Jacqueline King, who played Sylvia, Donna Noble’s mum in ‘Doctor Who’, voices the Orpheus’ Computer in this episode. She reads out what is said inside the CD cover notes of ‘Time’s Horizon’.
There’s a moment by the end when Liv Chenka is about to sacrifice herself and die. But after defeating the Eminence himself, the Doctor with Molly saves Liv by landing the TARDIS around her.
Liv seems to be joining the Doctor and Molly in their travels together in the TARDIS. But Liv isn’t comfortable with travelling with the Doctor since his future with the Daleks is yet to happen for him.
Meanwhile in 1970, a ‘certain’ Dr Sally Armstrong bumps into a certain ‘Harcourt’…or Master…
‘Time’s Horizon’ rating – 8/10
4. ‘EYES OF THE MASTER’
This fourth episode is by Matt Fitton. It features Paul McGann as the Doctor with Ruth Bradley as Molly O’Sullivan and Nicola Walker as Liv Chenka. It also features Alex MacQueen as the evil Master!
There’s a little appearance of the Dalek Time Controller who visits the Doctor in his cell following the events of ‘The Traitor’. The Time Controller wants more info about the Eminence from the Doctor.
In the actual episode, the Doctor, Molly and Liv visit London, Earth in the 1970s. They investigate more about what this Ides Scientific Institute is. Time has changed and the Master is behind all of it.
Alex MacQueen returns as the villainous Master in ‘Dark Eyes’. This incarnation of the Master has appeared in ‘Doctor Who’ before when he was in ‘U.N.I.T. Dominion’ and facing the Seventh Doctor.
I like Alex MacQueen’s performance as the Master, as he’s so cool and charming throughout with that edge and menace required. He also seems to be facing off well against Paul McGann’s Doctor.
This is set after the Master fought the Doctor in ‘U.N.I.T. Dominion’ and must be recent since he was expecting Seven. This is also the first time that the Eighth Doctor has faced this Master on audio.
This episode also features the return of Natalie Burt as Dr. Sally Armstrong. This is quite a surprise as she died in ‘Fugitives’ from the first ‘Dark Eyes’ box set. Apparently she turns out to be alive in this.
The Master had rescued Dr Sally Armstrong from her death and it caused the timelines to shift dramatically. Sally is now what you call the Master’s ‘companion’ and obeys everything he tells her.
Paul McGann is great as the Doctor. I liked it when he has scenes with the Master and when he shows concern for Molly and Liv. The Doctor gets to learn more about the Eminence and the Daleks.
Ruth Bradley is lovely as Molly. Molly gets to revisit Baker Street in the 1970s and checks up on David Walker who is now living in the Doctor’s house. Her gentle compassion shines in this episode.
Nicola Walker is also lovely as Liv. It was interesting to hear how Liv feels uncomfortable being with the Doctor, as she can’t tell him about his future or her demise. I liked the scenes she has with Molly.
Jacqueline King guest stars as Mrs Gantry, who looks after David Walker in his house. The Eminence also makes an appearance, voiced by David Sibley, and the Doctor uses them to defeat the Master.
Eventually, the Doctor realises he needs to go and sort out the Daleks and the Eminence on Nixyce VII. It all leads to the Doctor going off into his TARDIS and heading off for the events in ‘The Traitor’.
Liv comes to realise that the Doctor isn’t the bad guy and has just revealed to him that she’s about to die. Both Molly and Liv stay in Baker Street while the Doctor goes off to sort things out on Nixyce VII.
There’s a small guest appearance by Frank Skinner (from ‘Mummy on the Orient Express’). He plays an Earth soldier who rescues the Doctor from his prison cell after the humans defeated the Daleks.
There’s an epilogue scene where Molly receives a visit from Dr. Sally Armstrong at the door in Baker Street. Molly gets kidnapped and is taken inside the Master’s TARDIS, ending this on a cliff-hanger…
At the end of Disc 4, there is a suite of incidental music to enjoy!
‘Eyes of the Master’ rating – 9/10
The fifth disc of this box set contains an in-depth behind-the-scenes documentary, looking at the making of ‘Dark Eyes 2’. It contains behind-the-scenes interviews with cast and crew of this box set.
The documentary starts with director Nicholas Briggs talking about how he approached directing ‘Dark Eyes 2’ and splitting the writing between himself; Alan Barnes and Matt Fitton. Matt Fitton also contributes with sharing his involvement in the writing of ‘Dark Eyes 2’ and the rest of this saga.
There are also interviews with Paul McGann; Ruth Bradley and Nicola Walker. I really liked the enthusiasm shared by these three people as they’ve clearly enjoy working on these Big Finish audios.
It was interesting from Nick Briggs to hear how busy Paul McGann was before making ‘Dark Eyes 2’. I like Ruth’s comments when comparing Molly on how she was in the first ‘Dark Eyes’ to how she is in ‘Dark Eyes 2’. I also liked hearing Nicola Walker wanting to play Liv again after she did ‘Robophobia’.
Alex MacQueen also gets interviewed and it was interesting how he approaches playing the Master with his clinical insanity and genius. There are also interviews with David Sibley and with Frank Skinner who I was amazed on discovering that he was a fan of Big Finish as well as TV ‘Doctor Who’.
There are also interviews with the supporting cast including Jacqueline King; Chris Porter; John Dorney; Ian Brooker; Adrian Mackinder; Jo Castleton; David Shaw-Parker; etc. It was nice to hear from Nick Briggs about remembering working with these actors before casting them in ‘Dark Eyes 2’.
The documentary ends with the future of ‘Dark Eyes 2’. Ruth Bradley seems keen to know what will happen next with Molly and hoping for more with her character. Paul McGann makes some really nice comments about the Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’, as he clearly enjoys making them today.
This box set is really well put together again with some nice individual CD covers for the four episodes and the inside-pictures featuring the Doctor; Molly and Liv in action during the four stories.
‘Dark Eyes 2’ is another great box set and continues the new chapter of the Eighth Doctor’s story in Big Finish. I wonder what will happen next with Molly being captured by the Master and Dr Sally Armstrong and what’s in store for the next two ‘Dark Eyes’ box sets. Let’s go and find out, shall we?
‘Dark Eyes 2’ box set rating – 9/10
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