‘DARK EYES 3’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
The Eighth Doctor versus the Master
This ‘Dark Eyes’ box-set is dedicated to the memory of Paul Spragg, 1975-2014.
‘Dark Eyes 3’ is the third box set in the ‘Dark Eyes’ series of ‘Doctor Who’ audios with Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor. After hearing ‘Dark Eyes’ and ‘Dark Eyes 2’ before this, I was looking forward to what would happen next and to whether the Doctor would rescue Molly O’Sullivan from the Master.
This is a box-set of four-linked audio episodes of ‘Doctor Who’. ‘Dark Eyes 3’ stars Paul McGann as the Doctor with Ruth Bradley as Molly O’Sullivan; Nicola Walker as Liv Chenka; Natalie Burt as Dr. Sally Armstrong and Alex MacQueen as the Master. Sadly the Daleks don’t appear in this special box set.
The writing for each of the four episodes is all done by Matt Fitton, who contributed significantly to ‘Dark Eyes 2’ before this. The four episodes are ‘The Death of Hope’, ‘The Reviled’, ‘Masterplan’ and ‘Rule of the Eminence’. All the four episodes of this ‘Dark Eyes’ box set are directed by Ken Bentley.
I purchased the box set at the ‘Timey Wimey 1’ convention in Brighton, November 2014 at the Big Finish stall. It had already been signed by Nicola Walker and Alex MacQueen when I purchased it. I’ve had the box-set signed by Matt Fitton and David Sibley (voicing the Eminence) at ‘Doctor Who’ conventions.
This is a 5-disc CD set with the four episodes of ‘Dark Eyes 3’ on the first four discs. The fifth disc is a behind-the-scenes disc that focuses on the making of ‘Dark Eyes 3’ and features interviews with the cast and crew.
1. ‘THE DEATH OF HOPE’
This first episode stars Paul McGann as the Doctor with Ruth Bradley as Molly O’Sullivan. It also features Natalie Burt as Sally Armstrong, Seán Carlsen as Narvin and Alex MacQueen as the Master.
The episode has the Doctor picked up by the Time Lords, led by Co-ordinator Narvin who stars in the ‘Gallifrey’ spin-off series. Narvin has picked up the Doctor to show him about the Master’s plans.
I did wonder what became of Molly O’Sullivan and why she had been captured at the end of ‘Dark Eyes 2’ by the Master and Sally Armstrong. The answer would be given here in this very first episode.
The episode takes place on the planet Heron’s World, Colony Ro 351. This is a desert-like backwater planet that has been the subject of the grim Eminence war. Only a small group of humans survived.
The human survivors receive a visitor from a man in a box with two travelling companions. But it’s not the Doctor. It is the Master, with Sally Armstrong and their prisoner Molly O’Sullivan that arrive.
The Master and Sally Armstrong with Molly O’Sullivan seem to be offering help to the humans to protect themselves against the Eminence. But as the Master’s intentions may not be as they seem.
It was interesting that the Doctor doesn’t take much part in the events of this episode. He’s basically watching what’s going on with Narvin showing him images on the screen using the Time Lord Matrix.
This episode also sets up what goes on later in ‘Dark Eyes 3’ with the Master as well as resolving the cliff-hanger for ‘Dark Eyes 2’. It’s basically a Master story throughout and more is unravelled later on.
It was also good to have a follow-up to the Eminence story that’s occurring in the ‘Dark Eyes’ saga so far. The Master, Sally and Molly visit a planet attacked by the Eminence and look a way to defeat it.
Paul McGann is great at the Doctor in this episode. He’s clearly frustrated when Narvin shows him what goes on with the Master and is very distressed when he realises Molly was easily kidnapped.
Seán Carlsen makes his first appearance as Narvin in the ‘Dark Eyes’ saga. It was interesting to hear Narvin meet the Eighth Doctor in this, as he’s usually with Romana and Leela in the ‘Gallifrey’ series.
But it’s Alex MacQueen who steals the show as the Master in this episode. I like the charming, sinister performance Alex puts into his version of the Master as he attempts to outwit the Eminence.
Natalie Burt returns as Dr. Sally Armstrong in this episode. Sally is now under the control of the Master and is his willing servant. She sometimes tells Molly off whenever they force her to do work.
Ruth Bradley is lovely as Molly O’Sullivan in this episode. Sadly Molly doesn’t feature in every episode of this ‘Dark Eyes’ box set. But it is nice to find her being compassionate and caring as ever.
The Eminence, voiced by David Sibley, makes their return. The Infinite Warriors also feature in this and it was so chilling to hear the Eminence’s voice when breathing the breath of forever on people.
The theme of ‘Dark Eyes’ is hope and there is a character called Hope Gardner played by Georgie Fuller in this episode. Hope is about to be killed at the end of this episode, but that could all change.
At the end, Narvin sends the Doctor off on his mission that involves rescuing Molly…and Hope too…
‘The Death of Hope’ rating – 6/10
2. ‘THE REVILED’
This second episode stars Paul McGann as the Doctor with Nicola Walker as Liv Chenka. It also features Natalie Burt as Sally Armstrong, Seán Carlsen as Narvin and Alex MacQueen as the Master.
In this episode, we see the Doctor more involved in ‘Dark Eyes 3’ as he gets sent by Narvin to the planet Ramossa. There he reunites with Liv Chenka and the Eminence approach to attack the planet.
Ramossa is a jungle-like planet where human colonists are now prisoners of the native Ramossans. Humanity is despised by the Ramossans and it isn’t made easier when the Eminence begin to attack.
I was very pleased to hear Nicola Walker return as Liv Chenka in this episode. I wondered how she got on Ramossa from London, Earth in the 1970s. But she had been sent there by Narvin apparently.
This is where we find the Eighth Doctor and Liv forming the Doctor-companion set-up for the rest of the ‘Dark Eyes’ saga. They work well together and I enjoy listening to the scenes they have together.
Paul McGann as the Doctor is not too happy with being sent by the Time Lords and being manipulated by them. He shares this with Liv as they have to achieve a mission to save some people.
There is rebellion and prejudice on the planet Ramossa between the humans and the Ramossans. The Ramossans are scorpion-like bipeds and the humans attempt to overthrow them in this episode.
But Dr. Sally Armstrong and the Master cause trouble, as Sally is sent to negotiate with the Ramossans. The Doctor tries to intervene with the Master and Sally’s plans involving the Eminence.
Natalie Burt as Sally Armstrong has now become a corrupt person with the Master. I liked that scene where the Doctor confronts Sally and challenges her on what she’s doing but she’s refusing to listen.
I also like that scene where the Doctor shares with Liv about who the Master is as he was once his greatest friend now his greatest enemy. The Doctor has to deal with the Master through Sally in this.
Alex MacQueen as the Master is a silent, watching observer in this episode. I liked how he gleefully taunts the Doctor and is seemingly getting the upper hand whilst tackling this business on Ramossa.
Sacha Dhawan (who was in ‘An Adventure in Space and Time’) and Laura Riseborough guest star as human rebels Vaughan and Sharma. They really hate the Ramossans when they make to fight them.
The Eminence (voiced by David Sibley) soon arrives and cause trouble as they attack Ramossa. But the Ramossans’ biology makes them immune to the Eminence’s breath of forever taking over them.
Eventually, it transpires that the Doctor and Liv have been doing the Master’s work for him without realising it. The Master cleverly uses his TARDIS and to takes all of the humans with him off Ramossa.
The Doctor is very angry about this when he and Liv return to the TARDIS. There they confront Seán Carlsen as Narvin, who speaks for himself and he reveals what the Time Lord’s true intentions were.
At this, the Doctor smashes the console up in anger as he’s fed up with losing so many people. Liv tells him to stop and reveals to him that she’s dying. This stops the Doctor who shocked to hear this.
The episode ends with the Doctor deciding to re-write the timelines himself…
‘The Reviled’ rating – 6/10
This third episode stars Paul McGann as the Doctor with Nicola Walker as Liv Chenka. It also features Natalie Burt as Sally Armstrong, Seán Carlsen as Narvin and Alex MacQueen as the villainous Master.
I found this episode very engaging compared to the previous two episodes. This is where the Doctor and Master relationship in ‘Dark Eyes 3’ really gets into gear and we have them confront each other.
The Doctor has decided to change the timelines and prevent a war with the Eminence. But it’s not as easy as he thinks, since Professor Markus Shriver refuses to stop his experiments when he visits him.
Eventually, the Doctor ends up on a doomed spaceship where he faces his oldest friend now enemy. Also Liv Chenka and Sally Armstrong are with Professor Shriver when he carries out his experiments.
This is an episode of two sub-plots running side by side of each other. There are the two Time Lords dealing with a situation and there are also the two female companions dealing with a situation too.
I greatly enjoyed the relationship between the Doctor and the Master in this episode. Paul McGann and Alex MacQueen bounce off each other very well as they share off their pasts and personalities.
Paul McGann’s Doctor is determined to put a stop the Master’s ‘masterplan’ and he’s fed up with losing so many friends. He doesn’t like what the Master does and how he continues to keep going.
Alex MacQueen’s Master is dismissive of the Doctor’s morals in this episode as he justifies on what he does in the ‘Dark Eyes’ saga. I do like how Alex balances the menace and humour of the Master.
Apparently, the Master has been carrying Molly O’Sullivan with him in a teleport casket when he comes to the spaceship with the Doctor aboard. This gets the Doctor very upset when he finds her.
Nicola Walker is great as Liv Chenka in this episode. Liv tries to pass herself off as Professor Shriver’s secretary. But when Sally Armstrong turns up, Liv is caught out and she’s soon taken to a prison cell.
Natalie Burt is really vicious as Dr. Sally Armstrong. I like the confrontation scene she has with Liv in her cell and Sally has become very corrupt and she believes that the Master will never abandon her.
Liv manages to shake Sally’s confidence when she tells him that the Master is just using her and that he only wants Molly now. Sally tries to dismiss this aside, but it’s clear she has doubts on the Master.
David Sibley guest stars as Professor Markus Shriver in this episode. Shriver is a brilliant scientist in teleportation and neural manipulation. But he’s also insane and does something bad in this episode.
Sally Armstrong meets a grim end, as she and Liv are put inside cubicles by Shriver. In a process of random selection between Liv and Sally, Sally dies screaming and crying that she’s been abandoned.
The Eminence (voiced by David Sibley) also makes a return, when the Master releases their essence aboard the spaceship with the Doctor. The Master tries to take control of them, but it’s not so easy.
In the end, the Master leaves the Doctor aboard the spaceship to crash onto a planet. The Master takes Molly in the teleport casket with him and also Liv Chenka and leaves Sally’s dead body behind.
But the Doctor manages to survive in his TARDIS and Seán Carlsen as Narvin arrives to help him…
‘Masterplan’ rating – 9/10
4. ‘RULE OF THE EMINENCE’
This fourth episode stars Paul McGann as the Doctor with Nicola Walker as Liv Chenka and Ruth Bradley as Molly O’Sullivan. It also stars Seán Carlsen as Narvin and Alex MacQueen as the Master.
Everything comes together in this episode of the ‘Dark Eyes 3’ box set. Things become grim as the Master’s masterplan comes into fruition as he intends to control the humans using Molly O’Sullivan.
In Earth’s future, the war between the humans and the Eminence is over. Humanity has won and everybody can live in peace without knowing the Eminence. But all is about to change by the Master.
I wondered what exactly the Master has in mind and how he uses Molly O’Sullivan in his deadly plans. The particles inside Molly’s ‘dark eyes’ are the cause for it all and the infectious Eminence too.
Alex MacQueen as the Master is terribly manipulative in this episode. He manages to fool the Doctor and he’s pretty ruthless when he forces Liv Chenka to work and tortures Molly for his own schemes.
Paul McGann as the Doctor takes things personally from now on as he desperately tries to save the lives of his companions. I liked how he confronts both the Master and the Eminence at the same time.
It was great to hear Ruth Bradley again as Molly in this episode. Although I felt her absence in ‘Dark Eyes 3’ and wish she could have had more adventures with the Doctor than she already did in ‘Doctor Who’.
It was interesting to hear Molly having strange dream-like experiences in this episode when she’s been fed medicine by Liv. I liked it when Molly refuses to shoot the Doctor at the end of the episode.
Nicola Walker as Liv Chenka hates doing what the Master tells her by injecting medicine into Molly. But she comes out of it well by helping the Doctor and saving Earth from the Master’s evil influence.
Seán Carlsen as Narvin is now helping the Doctor as they work together to stop the Master’s plans with the Eminence on Earth. Narvin has a bad share when he’s locked in a casket with the Eminence.
The Eminence, voiced by David Sibley, turns up after forming an alliance with the Master. The Master believes he can control the Eminence, but they’ve their own plans as they go for the Doctor.
Jonathan Forbes guest stars as Walter Vincent, the man who convinces everyone on Earth that the war with the Eminence is over. But Vincent gets controlled by the Masters and bosses Molly around.
Beth Chalmers guest stars as Casey Carraway, a newcaster and Georgia Moffett (Peter Davison’s daughter) guest stars as Engineer Tallow. Every human gets controlled and are filled with ‘dark eyes’.
It was frightening, especially from inside the CD cover of this episode, to see people with ‘dark eyes’ just like Molly has. I wondered how the Doctor would save everyone and he manages to quite easily.
The episode ends with the Earth saved, everyone to normal and Molly still alive. I was afraid that something terrible might happen to Molly by the end of ‘Dark Eyes 3’. Thankfully that didn’t happen.
Sadly though, Narvin tells the Doctor that Molly can’t travel in the TARDIS anymore. This allows an emotional farewell between Molly and the Doctor, which was quite heart-breakingly sad to listen to.
Fortunately, Liv Chenka gets to travel with the Doctor. I wonder where these two will go next…
‘Rule of the Eminence’ rating – 8/10
The fifth disc of this box set contains an in-depth behind-the-scenes documentary, looking at the making of ‘Dark Eyes 3’. It contains behind-the-scenes interviews with cast and crew of this box set.
The documentary starts with writer Matt Fitton, producer David Richardson and director Ken Bentley talking about the making of ‘Dark Eyes 3’. They share how daunting it was to come aboard the making of the ‘Dark Eyes’ saga after taking over from Nicholas Briggs who’d started the project.
There are also interviews with Ruth Bradley and Nicola Walker who talk about sharing their enjoyment of working in ‘Doctor Who’ through Big Finish. It was interesting that Ruth Bradley wasn’t available for the recordings of ‘Dark Eyes 3’, hence why her appearances in this box set are limited.
It was also great to hear Paul McGann being interviewed for this box set and how he complements Ruth Bradley and Nicola Walker when working with them. The two ladies also compliment working with Paul too. In fact, many people who’ve worked in ‘Dark Eyes 3’ compliment Paul McGann in this.
I also enjoyed hearing Alex MacQueen being interviewed for ‘Dark Eyes 3’ and how he shares his thoughts on playing the Master. It was interesting to hear how Paul McGann and Alex MacQueen each compare the Doctor-Master relationship in this box set and how they are similar and different.
There are also interviews with Natalie Burt; Seán Carlsen and David Sibley in this documentary. There are also interviews with the supporting cast including Geoffrey Breton, Georgie Fuller, Laura Riseborough, Sacha Dhawan, Sarah Mowat, Jonathan Forbes, Beth Chalmers, Georgia Moffett, etc.
The documentary ends with a tribute made to Paul Spragg, the producer’s assistant at Big Finish. Many tributes are given to Paul by those who knew him, including producer David Richardson, Paul McGann, Nicola Walker, Beth Chalmers, etc. It was so incredibly touching and so moving to listen to.
Again, this box set of ‘Dark Eyes 3’ is very well put together with some nice individual CD covers for the four episodes and the inside-pictures featuring the Doctor; Molly; Liv and the Master in action.
I’d like to add before I finish how much I’ve enjoyed Ruth Bradley as Molly O’Sullivan in this box set. I get the impression that this is the last time we’ll hear her as Molly in ‘Doctor Who’. I hope that’s not the case as it would be great to hear Ruth reprise Molly and work with Paul McGann’s Doctor again.
‘Dark Eyes 3’ has been enjoyable ‘Doctor Who’ box set to listen in the Eighth Doctor saga. I don’t think it’s the best ‘Dark Eyes’ box set I’ve listened to, but I greatly enjoyed the Doctor-Master story that was going on in all four episodes. I’m looking forward to what will happen next in ‘Dark Eyes 4’.
‘Dark Eyes 3’ box set rating – 7/10
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