‘DARK EYES 4’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
The Dark Eyes Saga Comes To An End
The Eighth Doctor is back for more with Daleks, Sontarans, the Master and the Eminence!
‘Dark Eyes 4’ is the fourth and final box set in the ‘Dark Eyes’ series of ‘Doctor Who’ audios with Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor. I’ve greatly enjoyed this new chapter of the Eighth Doctor so far with the first three ‘Dark Eyes’ box sets and was keenly looking forward to how it comes to its conclusion.
This is a box-set of four-linked audio episodes of ‘Doctor Who’. ‘Dark Eyes 4’ stars Paul McGann as the Doctor with Nicola Walker as Liv Chenka and Alex MacQueen as the Master. The Daleks and the Eminence make a return in this box-set. Sadly Ruth Bradley doesn’t return as Molly O’Sullivan in this.
The writing for this box set is shared between Matt Fitton and John Dorney. The four episodes are ‘A Life in the Day’ by John Dorney, ‘The Monster of Montmartre’ by Matt Fitton, ‘Master of the Daleks’ by John Dorney and ‘Eye of Darkness’ by Matt Fitton. All four episodes are directed by Ken Bentley.
I purchased this box set at the ‘Dimensions 2015’ convention in Newcastle, October 2015 at the Big Finish stall. Having the first three ‘Dark Eyes’ box sets already, I was keen to have the fourth in my collection before I began listening to the ‘Doom Coalition’ box sets next in the Eighth Doctor audios.
This is a 5-disc CD set with the four episodes of ‘Dark Eyes 4’ on the first four discs. The fifth disc is a behind-the-scenes disc that focuses on the making of ‘Dark Eyes 4’ and features interviews with the cast and crew.
1. ‘A LIFE IN THE DAY’
This first episode is by John Dorney. It starts with the Doctor and Liv in post-World War I London. They’re hoping to find Molly O’Sullivan and check on her. But strangely, Molly is nowhere to be seen.
I was rather disheartened that Ruth Bradley didn’t return to this final chapter of the ‘Dark Eyes’ saga. It made no sense as Molly was important for this chapter of the Eighth Doctor’s from the beginning.
Eventually, the Doctor discovers finds Kitty Donaldson, the friend that Molly took care of during the First World War when the Doctor met her. The Doctor is so surprised to find Kitty in this time period.
I had a sense that things weren’t as they seemed when the Doctor and Liv visited London after the First World War. I guessed that somehow the timelines had changed and I wondered how and why.
I enjoyed this episode very much as it’s well-written by John Dorney. It has an emotional drama in it and does well on focusing character development even with the Doctor, Liv, Kitty and Martin in this.
This is the first time that John Dorney writes for Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor. John provides an interesting interpretation of the character, as the Doctor comes across as very flippant and so sharp.
I enjoyed Paul McGann’s performance as the Doctor in this episode. He’s guessing something’s unusual with Kitty’s brother Martin and he’s solving it step by step when investigating his room first.
The Doctor gets a shock when a woman android opens fire on him with a gun. I liked the Doctor’s line when he says, “You’re firing at an unarmed man! Do you have any idea how unsporting that is?”
Nicola Walker is lovely to hear as Liv Chenka in this episode. I like how it’s touched on that she’s given a new lease of life following ‘Dark Eyes 3’. But it is taking a while for Liv to find out how to live.
I also like the semi-romantic story that Liv gets when going out on a date with Martin, whilst the Doctor is occupied with solving the mystery. The scenes with Liv and Martin are beautifully written.
Beth Chalmers returns as Kitty Donaldson, who first appeared in the first ‘Dark Eyes’ box set. I enjoyed the scenes that Kitty has with the Doctor. They both have an adventure in post-war London.
Barnaby Kay guest stars as Martin Donaldson, Kitty’s brother in the episode. It was interesting to discover that Kitty had a brother and it was rather heart-breaking to discover what his mystery was.
In the episode, the Doctor and Liv get chased about by androids in post-war London. I wondered why the androids chased them and they have a similar catchphrase to another ‘Doctor Who’ enemy.
It was fun to have the Doctor and Liv explore an historical Earth setting in this ‘Dark Eyes’ box set. I enjoyed it when there were scenes in the cinema and Liv and Martin watched a Buster Keaton film.
The episode comes to an end when the TARDIS gets stolen by one of the androids after Liv opens the door with her key to let it in. I wondered how the Doctor and Liv were going to get the TARDIS back.
The mystery of Martin is that he is caught in a time-loop and that he can live for only one day with Liv Chenka. This was so heart-breaking to end this episode, even as the Doctor and Liv leave Martin.
I was keen to find out what would happen next as the Doctor and Liv set off to find the TARDIS…
‘A Life In The Day’ rating – 9/10
2. ‘THE MONSTER OF MONTMARTRE’
This second episode is by Matt Fitton. It follows on directly after ‘A Life In The Day’ with the Doctor and Liv arriving in Paris and on the trail for their TARDIS. They wonder where it is and who’s stolen it.
I like how this ‘Dark Eyes’ box set so far keeps the Doctor and Liv in the same time period of 1921. There’s another mystery for the duo to solve as there are dark reasons for the TARDIS being stolen.
After arriving in Paris by train, the Doctor and Liv split up to find what information they can about the TARDIS theft. They each run into some dodgy characters that culminate by this episode’s climax.
The Doctor meets up with an artist named Christian Favre who helps him find the TARDIS’ whereabouts at a club called the Red Pagoda. It is run by the smooth, mysterious Adeline Dutemps.
Liv meanwhile is being stalked by a suave crime leader named Legrand, who takes an interest in her and the Doctor when they arrive in Paris. He offers to help Liv as he treats her to a restaurant meal.
I like the gangster/crime world-styled atmosphere of this episode, even if it’s in Paris and not America. The Doctor and Liv are in the thrall of collectors who want something from them in return.
Paul McGann delivers a terrific performance as the Doctor in this episode. He quickly suspects Adeline Dutemps, as he knows there’s something not right about when he’s at her Red Pagoda club.
I like the energy and enthusiasm that Paul puts into his performance as the Doctor. He’s clearly concerned for Liv when leaving her behind with the Daleks and faces the Dalek Time Controller well.
Nicola Walker is great as Liv Chenka, who has become a seasoned companion by this point. She instantly doesn’t like Legrand and his gang stalking her, and is wary when having a restaurant meal.
I liked it when Liv and the Doctor soon meet at their rendezvous point and share what they’re discovered in their adventures. They both go to the Red Pagoda and see some shocking discoveries.
Rachael Stirling guest stars as Adeline Dutemps. Rachael is the daughter of Diana Rigg and has appeared in the TV episode ‘The Crimson Horror’. There’s quite a shock twist regarding Adeline here.
Blake Ritson guest stars as Legrand. Blake has starred in ‘Mansfield Park’ with Billie Piper and has appeared in some Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’. I like his suave tones when he’s Legrand in this.
Alex Wyndham guest stars as Christian Favreau, the artist. The Doctor takes a liking to Christian and he seems genuinely pleasant. It was quite a shock when Christian has a horrible thing done to him.
The Monster of Montmatre is of course a Dalek. But it’s not just any Dalek. This happens to be the Dalek Time Controller, voiced by Nicholas Briggs. I was pleased to hear the Daleks back in this series.
The Dalek Time Controller is the one who had the TARDIS stolen from the Doctor and it seems to have created Daleks by having humans in Paris 1921 mutated into them. And he also happens to have a ‘dark eye’!.
The Doctor manages to get his TARDIS back as he gets inside to escape from the Daleks. But something’s gone wrong, as the Daleks have done something to it and the Doctor is pretty worried.
This episode ends with a shock appearance of Alex MacQueen as the Master siding with the Daleks…
‘The Monster of Montmartre’ rating – 8/10
3. ‘MASTER OF THE DALEKS’
This third episode is by John Dorney. This is where it gets exciting in ‘Dark Eyes 4’ as the Master makes his return in an alliance with the Daleks. There’s also the appearance of the Sontarans in this!
The story now takes place forty years in the future, as the Master with the Daleks take Liv to Moscow, 1961. The Doctor also arrives there too in his TARDIS, although he’s not acting like himself.
It transpires that the Master and the Daleks have been working together for a long time and have changed Earth’s timeline altogether. Not sure how that happened, but it is so disturbing to listen to.
It also seems the Master and the Daleks have enslaved races like the Sontarans to do their bidding. There are also conflicting interests as the Master and the Dalek Time Controller have their agendas.
Paul McGann is great as the Doctor, although he sleeps a lot of time in this episode. His previous trip in the damaged TARDIS has left him scatter-brained and he seems to think the Daleks are his friends.
He slowly recovers after being attended to by ‘Mary Carter’ and the Sontaran Rastel. He wakes up right in time by the end to see what is happening and that both Daleks and the Master are involved.
Nicola Walker is equally great as Liv Chenka in this episode. She does get locked up by the Daleks in a prison cell early on in the episode, but later has a confrontation with the Master which was gripping.
I enjoyed it when Liv manages to outwit the Master and take hold of his ’tissue compression eliminator’, forcing him to take her to his TARDIS. It’s a shock when Liv gets outwitted by the Master.
Alex MacQueen returns as the Master in ‘Dark Eyes 4’. Hearing Alex MacQueen’s Master is such a joy and he really believes that he can be the ‘master of the Daleks’ and can outwit the Time Controller.
The Master only has one scene with the Doctor at the very end of the episode. The Doctor leaves the Master, which is quite a shock to him. I wonder if the Master will ever return in ‘Doctor Who’ again?! 😀
Nicholas Briggs voices both the Dalek Time Controller and the Daleks in this episode. It was interesting to hear the interaction between the Time Controller and the Master and how they differ.
The Daleks as ever get to bark orders out at human slaves and there are also Dalek Time Strategists in this. There’s also a ‘civil war’ scene, as the Master gets to have his army of Daleks to work for him.
Dan Starkey voices the Sontarans in this ‘Dark Eyes’ episode! This marks the first appearance of the Sontarans in an Eighth Doctor audio. It was great hearing Paul McGann’s Doctor interact with them.
The Sontarans battle the Daleks in the opening sequence of this episode. There’s also a Sontaran nurse called Rastel in this episode and it was a thrill that the Sontarans fought the Daleks at the end.
There’s also Sorcha Cusack as ‘Mary Carter’, who turns out to be…Molly O’Sullivan herself! I was amazed, but quite saddened that Ruth Bradley didn’t return to play Molly in this ‘Dark Eyes’ box set.
This is of course an older Molly in the future as she’s now forty-years older since Liv and the Doctor last met her. I liked that reunion scene with Liv and Molly, before they get taken away by the Daleks.
The episode ends the Doctor taking the Master’s TARDIS and going off to find Liv and Molly…
‘Master of the Daleks’ rating – 9/10
4. ‘EYE OF DARKNESS’
This fourth episode is by Matt Fitton and is the final episode of the ‘Dark Eyes’ saga. Everything comes together in this episode as the Doctor, Liv and Molly face both the Daleks and the Eminence.
The episode takes place on the Eye of Orion. This is pretty exciting and intriguing for ‘Doctor Who’ fans. The Doctor has often talked about the Eye of Orion as ‘the most tranquil place in the universe’.
But in this altered timeline, it turns out that the Eye of Orion is actually cover of a Dalek facility instead of a peaceful retreat. This was shocking to hear, as I’ve believed the Eye of Orion was beautiful.
Lots of loose ends get tied up in this final episode of the ‘Dark Eyes’ saga. The final fate of the Dalek Time Controller is made here as well as the birth of the nasty Eminence by Professor Marcus Shriver.
The episode has the Doctor’s TARDIS arrive on the Eye of Orion with Liv, Molly and the Dalek Time Controller stepping out. The Doctor soon arrives afterwards in the Master’s TARDIS by crash-landing.
Paul McGann delivers a spell-binding performance as the Doctor in this episode. I’ve enjoyed how the Doctor’s journey has come this far since the first ‘Dark Eyes’ box set and how he keeps looking for hope.
Here, the Doctor is determined to put a stop to the Dalek Time Controller’s plans and prevent the Eminence from happening. But he won’t allow any of his friends to get hurt. Will he succeed in this?
Nicola Walker is great as Liv Chenka in this episode. Liv has also come a long way since her first appearance in the ‘Dark Eyes’ saga and it’s great that she’s become a fully-fledged companion here.
I liked it when Liv demonstrates her compassion by helping Molly whilst on the Eye of Orion. She is not pleased to work with the Dalek Time Controller and is very bitter when she meets Shriver again.
Sorcha Cusack is very good as Molly O’Sullivan in this audio. She’s not Ruth Bradley, but I was able to picture her as Molly as an older woman. I was delighted when Molly reunited with the Doctor in this.
Molly however is suffering some pains whilst on the Eye of Orion. She’s getting old for running around and sort things out with the Daleks and the Eminence. In the end, she makes a huge sacrifice.
Susannah Harker guest stars as Anya, a visitor to the Eye of Orion. Susannah played Clare Keightley in the Big Finish version of ‘Shada’. Anya has come to the Eye of Orion to destroy the Daleks forever.
David Sibley returns as Professor Marcus Shriver and the voice of the Eminence. It was interesting to see how the birth of Eminence takes place in this and how Shriver becomes a part of that deadly gas.
Nicholas Briggs voices the Dalek Time Controller and the Daleks in this episode. The Dalek Time Controller goes to extremes whilst on the Eye of Orion and will stop at nothing to succeed his plans.
Things did get confusing, especially when the Dalek Time Controller and Shriver were in conflict with each other and trying to take control of the Eminence gas. But that didn’t stop it from being exciting.
The episodes ends on a sad note, as Molly soon sacrifices herself and dies at the end of the story. But this is a well-worth sacrifice since this is hoped the timelines have been restored back to normal.
The Doctor and Liv go off in the TARDIS to take Molly back home before having more adventures…
‘Eye of Darkness’ 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 4’. It contains behind-the-scenes interviews with cast and crew of this box set.
The documentary starts with executive producer/Dalek voice artist Nicholas Briggs reflecting on how things have come so far since making the first ‘Dark Eyes’ box set to making ‘Dark Eyes 4’. It was interesting to hear how Nick allowed other writers to take part in this saga during the latter box sets.
There are also interviews with Paul McGann, who talks about how the recent 50th anniversary celebrations have affected the popularity of the ‘Dark Eyes’ box sets. He clearly expresses his enthusiasm for taking part in the Big Finish audios and how the writers come up with brilliant stories.
I enjoyed hearing the interviews with writers John Dorney and Matt Fitton in this documentary. It was interesting how both writers worked together in this final ‘Dark Eyes’ box set. The two writers complement each other instead of against each other when they write their episodes in this box set.
It was great to hear Nicola Walker interviewed for this box set too. I was surprised to discover that Nicola is married to Barnaby Kay who played Martin Donaldson in ‘A Life In The Day’. It made sense as to why Liv and Martin were so great together and Nicola and Barnaby seem to be happily married.
The documentary goes through the making of each of the four episodes of the box set. This includes interviews with the cast with the likes of Beth Chalmers, Barnaby Kay, Rachael Stirling, Blake Ritson, Alex Wyndham, Dan Starkey, Alex MacQueen, Sorcha Cusack, Susannah Harker and David Sibley.
It was interesting that Ruth Bradley wasn’t chosen to return as Molly O’Sullivan due to her unavailability. I liked how the documentary ends with a look back on the ‘Dark Eyes’ and looking ahead with teases of ‘Doom Coalition’ by Nick Briggs, Matt Fitton, Paul McGann and Nicola Walker.
Like the previous ‘Dark Eyes’ box set before this, ‘Dark Eyes 4’ is well put together with some nice individual CD covers for the four episodes and inside pictures of action sequences from the stories.
I’ve enjoyed ‘Dark Eyes 4’ so much, finding the box set a satisfying conclusion to the whole ‘Dark Eyes’ saga. The Eighth Doctor’s new chapter has been an enjoyable listening experience. It took me time to listen to all of the four box sets, but I’m very pleased I’ve finished and look forward to more.
Paul McGann has excelled himself as the Eighth Doctor in these latest Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’. It has been interesting exploring this new version of the Eighth Doctor and how he’s come out of his damaged stages at the start. I wonder what’s next for the Doctor and Liv in ‘Doom Coalition’?!
‘Dark Eyes 4’ box set rating – 9/10
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