‘The Next Life’ (Audio)

‘THE NEXT LIFE’

Please feel free to comment on my review.

Perfection, Guidance, Daqar Keep and Rassilon with the Eighth Doctor, Charley and C’rizz
By Tim Bradley with Timelord007

‘The Divergent Universe’ season of ‘Doctor Who’ audios comes to an end!

I have a confession to make. When I was getting into more of the Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’ in late 2011, I heard ‘The Next Life’ first before hearing the other stories in ‘The Divergent Universe’ season. I had no idea that this was the finale to ‘The Divergent Universe’ season when I listened to it.

The reason why I purchased ‘The Next Life’ first was because I wanted to get the inspiration of writing a six-part adventure when doing ‘Dawn of the Dwaxi’ and ‘The Stockbridge Terror’ for my Fifth Doctor series of stories in 2012. ‘The Next Life’ and 2003’s ‘Shada’ were sources of inspiration.

I quite liked ‘The Next Life’ when I heard it at the time. Yeah, I hadn’t heard the previous stories to appreciate what ‘The Divergent Universe’ season was all about, but I found the story and its concepts entertaining and very intriguing. This is a six-part adventure by Alan Barnes and Gary Russell.

Jane Hills, Stephen Mansfield, Anneke Wills, India Fisher, Stephen Perring and Conrad Westmaas in ‘The Next Life’.

Before hearing ‘The Divergent Universe’ season overall, I heard only ‘The Next Life’ and ‘Scherzo’ in that order. Now I’ve been able to hear ‘The Divergent Universe’ season from beginning to end in terms of reviews on ‘Bradley’s Basement’. Has my opinion about ‘The Next Life’ changed since then?

Well, I’ve discovered over the years there are two thought processes behind what people make of ‘The Next Life’ as a story and as a finale to ‘The Divergent Universe’ season. There are those who quite like the story enough to appreciate what it’s trying to do and there are those who don’t like it.

Me personally, I’m somewhere in the middle. I still like ‘The Next Life’ as a story and I think it’s a fitting conclusion to what has been going on for Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor, India Fisher’s Charley and Conrad Westmaas’ C’rizz. But I can’t help but feel there are missed opportunities found here. 😐

I’ll try and explain why I think this story works well enough for me as a finale to ‘The Divergent Universe’ season overall and highlight what I think could have been improved in the story as well as the season overall. I also hope to establish interesting theories I have regarding this certain season. 🙂

So without further or do, let’s take a look at…

Timelord007: “Sigh!”

(looks around) “What? Who said that?”

Timelord007: “SIGH!!!”

“Why, do you have something to say, Timelord007?”

Timelord007: “Oh I have a lot to say about this audio drama. ‘The Next Life’ is a major downer for me.”

“What?! It’s not that bad.”

Timelord007: “Not bad? NOT BAD?!!! A 3 hour six-parter where the Doctor does very little! No, I’m changing my mind! He actually does NOTHING!!! ZIP!!! NADA!!! Except flirt with a character called Perfection in the final ‘Divergent Universe’ story whilst Paul Darrow chews the scenery and does hammy acting William Shatner-style.”

“Look, I appreciate you didn’t have the same experience as me, but I still think ‘The Next Life’ has some value as a ‘Doctor Who’ story and as a finale to ‘The Divergent Universe’ season.”

Timelord007: “That I find hard to believe. But I respect you enough to hear your opinions on this audio drama.”

“Okay, look, why don’t you stick around and perhaps we can balance out the positives and negatives of ‘The Next Life’ and ‘The Divergent Universe’ season overall as we go along.”

Timelord007: “Yeah okay. I’m fine with that.”

“And we’re happy to agree to disagree about what we feel about this story and this season by the time we come to the end of it?”

Timelord007: “Works for me.”

“Very well then.” (to audience) “This is my review…”

Timelord007:Our review, Tim!”

(gradually; to audience)Our review of ‘The Next Life’!”

The story begins in the jungle of a paradise island. A man with a light French accent called Daqar Keep entertains a young jungle girl called Jembere-Bud who’s delighted to see him perform magic tricks. When Keep asks the girl if he’s managed to bring him what he wanted, she reveals she hasn’t.

I must say, I really like the performance of the actress who played Jembere-Bud in the first opening scene of the story. Her fascination by Daqar Keep’s ability to perform magic tricks and sleight-of hand is incredible to listen to. It’s probably one of my favourite performances in the audio drama. 😀

Timelord007: “Tim, you do realise no-one was speaking when Keep was talking to the girl, right?”

“Yeah, but I could just hear her performing well in the opening scene even when she didn’t speak.” 😀

This leads to a pretty disturbing scene where Keep shows her a new trick where he asks her to ‘hold his gaze’. It’s pretty terrifying when she struggles to escape. I’ve no idea what happened at the end of that scene. Keep probably crushed her for all I know, but it was effective and disturbing to hear. 🙂

Timelord007: “I must admit that the opening scene is a great start to begin the story. It adds an unsettling tone and you wonder what just happened.”

After the story’s opening title music, we have a scene set in the TARDIS between the Eighth Doctor, Charley and C’rizz. Now this is where I think one of the missed opportunities of the season comes into play. For quite a long time, the Doctor, Charley and C’rizz have been travelling without a TARDIS.

At the time of first hearing this story, I had no idea that the Doctor, Charley and C’rizz were TARDIS-less in most of ‘The Divergent Universe’ season. For the most part, they have been jumping between zones on a crucible planet, initiated by the Kro’ka, before they recovered the TARDIS in ‘Caerdroia’.

Now if I was in charge of ‘The Divergent Universe’ season, I probably would have had the Doctor, Charley and C’rizz travelling in the TARDIS half-way in the season. They could have got back the TARDIS at the end of ‘The Twilight Kingdom’ to have more TARDIS travels in the rest of the season. 🙂

Sadly it didn’t turn out that way, which is a shame. In fact, I’ve discovered that ‘The Divergent Universe’ arc was meant to go on a bit longer than its initial eight stories. Stories like ‘Scaredy Cat’, ‘Time Works’ and ‘Something Inside’ were originally meant to take place in the Divergent Universe. 🙂

India Fisher, Stephen Perring and Conrad Westmaas in ‘The Next Life’.

So, why did ‘The Divergent Universe’ arc end when it did at eight stories instead of possibly twelve? Well, that’s because the TV series was coming back in 2005. Yeah, ‘The Next Life’ was released in 2004 and it was decided to put the Eighth Doctor back in our universe to not worry any newcomers.

People would have probably wondered why the Eighth Doctor was stuck in a pocket universe when the Ninth Doctor and Rose were having adventures in our universe by the time the TV series came back. I appreciate that line of reasoning and it’s just as well that the season concluded when it did. 🙂

I wouldn’t have liked it if the Eighth Doctor was stuck in that pocket universe forever had ‘The Divergent Universe’ arc gone on for goodness knows how long. But I think I would have liked it if there were more stories of TARDIS travelling in that pocket universe as opposed to just one story. 😐

Timelord007: “Now wait a minute, Mr. Bradley! Are you saying that you would rather have more TARDIS scenes of C’rizz playing the clown for the Doctor and Charley by changing his skin colour from pink to green to…?”

Charley: “Blue and yellow polka dots.”
C’rizz: (struggles) “No, sorry.”

“I mean, it’s a cute scene, but I don’t…”

Timelord007: “Cute scene?! If I wanted cute, I would look at a photo of a puppy! I don’t want cute in ‘Doctor Who’ unless it features the beautiful Michelle Ryan!”

“Hey, come on, at least ‘The Next Life’ is linear and easier to follow than say ‘The Natural History of Fear’.”

Timelord007: “Wait a minute! You didn’t like ‘The Natural History of Fear’?”

“Not really.”

Timelord007: “Oh thank goodness! I thought that was just me. I’m still none the wiser on what it’s about.”

“Yeah, that was a tough story to listen to.”

Timelord007: “It certainly was. I had to lie down in the zero room for 24 hours to recover from the brain-ache of that story.”

“And yet, it somehow managed to be one of the Radio Times winners of the top five Eighth Doctor monthly range audio dramas by Big Finish in 2021!”

Timelord007: “How did that happen?!!!”

“There’s clearly something we missed from hearing that story.”

Anyway, in the TARDIS, the Doctor, Charley and C’rizz discover that they’re hurtling towards a large blue moon. I found it funny when the Doctor tried to materialise, the TARDIS refused and Charley had a go at shouting, telling her to land and the TARDIS still refused. 😀 Pretty soon, the ship crashes!

For the majority of ‘Part One’ of this six-parter, the Doctor is pretty much absent. Instead, we’re focusing on the companions and how their past lives are reflected compared to how they’re travelling with the Doctor. This is all through dreamscapes created by Stephen Perring as the Kro’ka.

With Charley, she finds herself reunited with Anneke Wills as Lady Louisa Pollard. Anneke, best-known for playing Polly in ‘Doctor Who’, reprises her role of Lady Pollard from ‘Zagreus’. Thankfully, no-one is changing into a rabbit from ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and Charley isn’t told to eat her carrots.

I liked the scenes between Charley and her mother. For a while, I did wonder whether this was really Charley’s mother or not. There were times when she did seem to be how Charley’s mother would talk to her daughter, especially as they reflected upon the R101 airship crash and what led up to it. 🙂

Anneke Wills and India Fisher in ‘The Next Life’.

The story features a brief appearance of Stephen Mansfield as Simon Murchford, the young man whom Charley took his place aboard the R101 airship. It was intriguing how Murchford seemed to resent Charley since she got him drunk and she took his place during the events of ‘Storm Warning’.

Meanwhile with C’rizz, he finds himself reunited with Jane Hills as his late lover L’da, whom he killed during the events of ‘The Creed of the Kromon’. From hearing this scene in the story, it was pretty interesting what C’rizz and L’da’s romantic relationship could have been like had he not killed her. 🙂

I actually would have liked to have heard more scenes between C’rizz and L’da during the events of ‘The Creed of the Kromon’. Perhaps C’rizz could have ‘mercy-killed’ her at the end of the story rather than half-way. That way, we could have appreciated the emotional connection with C’rizz’s character.

In the end, Charley and C’rizz realise what they’re experiencing with their mother or lover isn’t real and they individually suss out that the malicious Kro’ka is behind it all. It’s a surprising revelation the weasel-like Kro’ka still happens to be working for…Don Warrington as the President of Great Britain!

Timelord007: “Ahem! Wrong story, Tim.”

“Oh sorry. I mean he’s playing Rassilon of course!”

Timelord007: “Don Warrington’s performance is one of the few things I enjoyed about this story. You cast an amazing actor like Don Warrington as Rassilon and then give him this nonsensical twaddle of a script.”

(sighs) “Anyway, moving onto ‘Part Two’…

The Doctor washes up on the shore of a tropical island where he’s attacked by a cluster of crabs before their gigantic mother comes. Just as the giant crab is about to devour the Doctor, he’s saved by a woman who happens to be Daphne Ashbrook…as Grace.

Timelord007: “Grace? There’s no ‘Grace’ here, Tim!”

“Don’t say that in-joke like Paul McGann’s Doctor did in the story, Timelord!”

Timelord007: “I can’t help it, Tim! You put it in the script for me to read!”

But yeah, this isn’t Grace that Daphne Ashbrook is playing in the story. She’s playing a character called Perfection. No, not that’s not a joke, that’s what she’s called. Daphne of course played Grace Holloway in the ‘Doctor Who’ TV movie. It was lovely to have her reunited with Paul McGann here. 🙂

I’m sure they enjoyed working together again in this Big Finish audio having been in the TV movie. Apparently Big Finish couldn’t reuse Grace’s character from the TV movie due to licensing agreements with the US studios. So they had Daphne playing different characters for their dramas. 🙂

Daphne Ashbrook and Paul McGann in ‘The Next Life’.

This included the Perfection character for ‘The Next Life’ and later Captain Ruth Matheson for certain ‘Doctor Who’ audios. I enjoyed the interaction between Paul McGann’s Doctor and Daphne Ashbrook’s Perfection in the story, though Perfection is not as ‘perfect’ as she makes out to be here.

Timelord007: “Daphne Ashbrook is another solid performer here. Again, an intriguing character let down by a weak script. I suppose a Grace in-joke was inevitable.”

The story also features the late Paul Darrow as Guidance, who is later revealed to be C’rizz’s father. For some of you, Paul Darrow played Captain Hawkins in ‘Doctor Who and the Silurians’ and Tekker in ‘Timelash’. But for many, he is best well-known for playing Kerr Avon in the sci-fi series ‘Blake’s 7’.

Avon: “I am not expendable, I’m not stupid, and I’m not going.”

I enjoyed Paul Darrow’s performance as Guidance in this story. It’s interesting how he’s revealed to be C’rizz’s father and how his connection to the Church of the Foundation gets developed. It does seem that Guidance is more committed to the beliefs of the Church of the Foundation than C’rizz is.

Daphne Ashbrook and Paul Darrow in ‘The Next Life’.

Guidance is, of course, a Eutermesan like C’rizz is. It was disturbing when Guidance grabbed his son and ducked him repeatedly beneath the waters of the blue planet as C’rizz has spent too much time travelling with the Doctor, forgetting the ways of the Foundation. A nice father and son relationship? 😐

Timelord007: “The issue I have with the late Paul Darrow, who I enjoyed as Kerr Avon in ‘Blake’s 7’, is that no matter what part he plays, he always performs the role like he’s Avon. I just felt Darrow was a ‘chew the scenery’ type of actor who lacked gravitas and believability in his performances. Hearing his performance in ‘The Next Life’, I thought Avon was C’rizz’s dad instead of the character Guidance.”

The irony is; I saw Paul Darrow’s ‘Doctor Who’ performances before seeing him in ‘Blake’s 7’. I think his performance as Guidance is better than his performance as Tekker in ‘Timelash’. That was way over-the-top!

Timelord007: “Oh his performance as Tekker is up there with Graham Crowden as Soldeed for most badly-acted villain in ‘Doctor Who’!”

“I still have a soft spot for ‘The Horns of Nimon’.” 😀

Stephane Cornicard guest stars as Daqar Keep – Perfection’s husband; the new head of the Church of the Foundation and possibly the Divergence…sort-of, not really, I’m not sure to be honest. Keep is a pretty unusual character and I believe he was formed by the Doctor and Charley from ‘Scherzo’. 😐

He’s easily jealous by the Doctor being around his wife Perfection. He rouses the community on the paradise island into believing that the Doctor killed Jembere-Bud, to which the mother played by Jane Goddard is upset by. Keep has the Doctor and Perfection hunted within the jungle of the island.

Stephane Cornicard, Daphne Ashbrook and Paul Darrow in ‘The Next Life’.

Keep also has this extraordinary ability to self-heal, which Charley witnesses when accompanying him on his hunt, unaware that the Doctor and Perfection are being hunted. He seems to know a lot about the Divergent Universe; its history and how the Church of the Foundation is connected to it. 😐

It’s also unusual that Keep happens to have a light French accent. First the Divergence seem to know about Wales with ‘Caerdroia’ being a Welsh phrase; now we have a character who sounds slightly French. I get this is all based on possibly the Doctor and Charley’s memories, but it is rather unusual.

Timelord007: “Stephane Cornicard as Daqar Keep is another interesting character that added a bit of mystery and complexity to an otherwise mundane storyline.”

Don Warrington returns to play Rassilon in the story, having previously played the character in ‘Neverland’ and ‘Zagreus’. Rassilon continues to show how villainous he can be when manipulating the Doctor’s friends Charley and C’rizz to betray each other and also betray their Time Lord friend. 😮

He also has the Kro’ka under his thumb; whom he previously tortured at the end of ‘Caerdroia’. Sometimes Rassilon’s appearance in the story can be fleeting, especially in the first three episodes and when he’s absent in ‘Part Four’. But in ‘Parts Five and Six’, his major role in the tale comes to the fore.

Conrad Westmaas and Don Warrington in ‘The Next Life’.

Rassilon seems to have based himself on a forge world – the blue planet with the paradise island on it. He also manages to get C’rizz to betray the Doctor so that his own foundry can be utilised. It soon becomes Rassilon’s downfall as he and the Kro’ka end up in the tube-like experiment from ‘Scherzo’.

Since Rassilon does get trapped with the Kro’ka in the Divergent Universe at the end of the story, one wonders how he managed to get out of it to become Richard Armitage, Timothy Dalton and Donald Sumpter. Perhaps there’s some wibbley-wobbly timey-wimey thing going on with Rassilon. 🙂

Timelord007: “I swear that sometimes this series makes up the rules as it goes along or completely ignores events altogether. Although I would love to have seen Don Warrington play Rassilon on TV.”

Let’s talk about the main characters for a bit. First up, Paul McGann as the Doctor! Now I debate with Timelord007’s remark that the Doctor did nothing in the story…

Timelord007: “I love Paul McGann’s performances as the Eighth Doctor. He has truly made the role his own over the years, who was more or less given a blank canvas to define his incarnation. However, the Doctor here seems unconcerned with events and lacks a sense of urgency. He seems more content to do a Bushtucker trial from ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’ by eating worms and dung beetles whilst flirting with Perfection. It’s not really Paul McGann at fault but the script, which for a concluding arc, I find gives the Doctor very little to do.”

Like I said, I debate with what Timelord007 has said.

The thing is, Paul McGann as an actor did stand out for me. It was intriguing how he took in details about the blue planet he was on when meeting characters like Guidance, Daqar Keep and of course Perfection. He is a quiet observer and solves how to get himself and his friends back in our universe.

Yeah this story might not be the greatest to showcase his character, but at least he exposed Perfection for who she truly was and had that unique scene with Charley and C’rizz before they left the Divergent Universe. We’ll get to those scenes in a bit. In summary, Paul McGann does no wrong. 🙂

And let’s be honest, Paul McGann’s Doctor is brave enough to eat a meal of worms and dung beetles with Guidance and Keep. He seems to be really enjoying that meal! Paul McGann’s Doctor makes worms and dung beetles sound delicious, reminding me of Timon and Pumbaa from ‘The Lion King’!

♪ Hakuna Matata! What a wonderful phrase! ♫

Timelord007: “Must you sing during this review, Tim?”

“Why? Do I have to review ‘Doctor Who and the Pirates’ where Colin Baker’s Doctor sings ♪ ‘I Am the Very Model of a Gallifreyan Buccaneer’♫?”

Timelord007: “Please no! I have enough to deal with when you do your ‘Last Jedi’ jokes in your reviews!”

“Ah, that’s interesting. Sometimes you get annoyed by my Jim Carrey jokes in my reviews.”

Timelord007: “I will never forget that April Fools video you did where Jim Carrey was cast as the Master! ARGH!!!!! The sheer thought and nightmare of it still gives me chills!”

Let’s move on and talk about India Fisher as Charley. Now once again, India Fisher does stand out well for me. It was intriguing how Charley reflected on her past when she decided to become an adventurer and how she ended up travelling with the Doctor, especially in scenes with her mother. 🙂

Mind you, I do think there are times when Charley can be quite…well, there’s no better way of putting this. She can be quite jealous on the Rose type of jealously from the new TV series. This is especially when she sees the Doctor being with Perfection and she’s so against them being together.

There’s also bitterness between Charley and C’rizz towards the end of the story, especially after he betrayed her and the Doctor to Rassilon. That’s not reflected in the friendship the trio seemed to have formed in the previous ‘Divergent Universe’ stories where they did seem to really like each other.

Timelord007: “Charley came across as a jealous spoiled brat in this story and was easily convinced the Doctor was possessed by Zagreus. Her bitterness towards C’rizz is irritating to listen too.”

Speaking of which, there’s Conrad Westmaas as C’rizz, the Doctor’s Eutermesan companion. Now, as I’ve stated in the reviews on ‘The Divergent Universe’ season, I have found C’rizz to be an interesting character. Yet he can have the tendency to divide fan opinion, wounding up people the wrong way…

Timelord007: “Another original written character that had the potential to become unique and interesting is thrown under the bus with lame writing. I just don’t think Big Finish’s writers at the time knew what to do with his character, which is why his character comes across as uneven.”

“You do realise this is an alien character we’re talking about, Timelord.”

Timelord007: “Yeah, I get that. But where’s the drama? Where’s the intrigue and mystery? A writer like John Dorney would have done wonders with a character like that. Sadly, Alan Barnes and Gary Russell aren’t John Dorney and their writing is often uneven and lacklustre.”

To be fair, I see why Crizz’s character would wound up people the wrong way. He’s not a clear-cut character and there’s the implication that he committed mass murder during his time as a monk in the Church of the Foundation. Yet somehow, I can see where his character progression was heading.

Conrad Westmaas and Paul Darrow in ‘The Next Life’.

During his time with the Doctor and Charley, he’s learning to become a better person. Even by the end of the story, he doesn’t know who he is anymore and he hopes to change by the time they get back to the Doctor and Charley’s universe. It’s a flawed character progression, but I do appreciate it.

It’s also intriguing how we get to learn more about the Church of the Foundation through C’rizz as well as through Guidance, as it was first mentioned in ‘Faith Stealer’. Quite often, the faith aspects of this story intrigued me, mostly due to me having a Christian upbringing to appreciate and understand it.

Timelord007: “The ingredients for an interesting character are all there, but the execution is sadly not.”

Now as I listened to this story, the first three episodes are rather intriguing with some character interaction that I quite enjoyed. Yet by the time we get to ‘Part Four’, there’s an awful lot of plot exposition dumped on us. This is when Perfection, Guidance and Daqar Keep are explaining things. 😐

I must admit, I found the exposition stuff a lot to take in. Unless you listened to this story more than once or you heard it every year to avoid forgetting certain plot details, you might be lost in what’s going on with the Divergent Universe, its history and how the Church of the Foundation was formed.

Essentially, the Divergent Universe is put on reset when it comes to the end of its natural cycle. Hence the story’s title – ‘The Next Life’! Once the Doctor, Charley and C’rizz exit out of the Divergent Universe, the cycle begins again and new worlds and galaxies become formed in their place instead.

Gosh, I wish E-Space had this ability to reform itself. The Divergent Universe as a concept is an intriguing one. Mind you, it can be confusing for the casual listeners who might hear this story only once and not get the plot exposition dumped upon them by guest characters in one go in ‘Part Four’.

Timelord007: “The story’s not lacking in creative ideas. I just find they’re confusingly handled. Many times, I had to re-listen to a certain part of the story to try and comprehend what was going on.”

One of the biggest plot twists gets revealed in ‘Part Six’ of the story. As well as Daqar Keep fooling Perfection by becoming a TARDIS, the Doctor reveals that Perfection happens to be…Zagreus. Now, I have to admit, that is rather clever. It makes sense considering what Perfection’s character was like.

Daphne Ashbrook, Conrad Westmaas and India Fisher in ‘The Next Life’.

Throughout ‘The Divergent Universe’ season, there hasn’t been a mention of Zagreus at this point. It’s only up until this story that the Zagreus plot thread comes back into ‘Doctor Who’. Mind you, I wish Perfection as Zagreus was revealed in ‘Part Five’ of the story instead of ‘Part Six’ of the story. 🙂

Timelord007: “I completely agree, Tim. Had this been introduced in ‘Part Five’, it would have allowed a clearer narrative to focus more on the concluding episode.”

And now we come to the pivotal scene between the Doctor, Charley and C’rizz before they leave the Divergent Universe. Before they leave in the TARDIS, Charley and C’rizz argue bitterly with each other. Despite time being against them, the Doctor refuses to leave until their argument is settled. 😐

The Doctor wants Charley and C’rizz to be friends again and put aside their differences before they return to their home universe. Charley and C’rizz are impatient with the Doctor stalling things. The gap into their home universe is almost closing off, but the Doctor is insistent they forgive each other.

Okay, I’m not entirely sure if this scene is effective as it was making out to be when I heard the story. It’s very well performed by Paul McGann, India Fisher and Conrad Westmaas and it implies the journeys that our three main leads have been going on throughout ‘The Divergent Universe’ season.

Charley shares how she wants things back to the way they were before. C’rizz implies that he hopes to be a better person following the revelations the Doctor and Charley discovered about him. The Doctor wants Charley and C’rizz to change and be better people in returning to their home universe.

Maybe it was the way the Doctor forced Charley and C’rizz to apologise to each other that put me off. We should have been given a time count on how many minutes or seconds they had left before the gap closed and when they could enter our universe. They could have ended up not returning home.

Perhaps the Doctor should have done this scene where Charley and C’rizz had to apologise to each other in the TARDIS. He wouldn’t let them out unless they did so once they were back in our universe. On the other hand, I appreciate what the scene’s trying to do and I did enjoy listening to it.

It’s a scene where the Doctor hopes for him, Charley and C’rizz to become better people when they escape their captivity and return to their home universe. It’s something that can be reflected in all of us in trying to be better people. It sets up things for what is to occur in future stories. This I appreciate.

Timelord007: “Well, to me, the scene is daft! The Doctor is berating Charley and C’rizz like naughty children instead of adults. I was half-expecting them both to stand on the naughty step.”

(sighs) “Anyway…”

The story ends with the Doctor, Charley and C’rizz returning to our universe after escaping the Divergent Universe. This is confirmed when they open a door in a dark, metal chamber and they find Davros and the Daleks who have been waiting for them. Cue ‘Terror Firma’ up next! 😀

Now this leads onto a question I have about how ‘The Next Life’ concluded. Did the Eighth Doctor really return to our home universe?

Timelord007: (puzzled) “What do you mean by that, Tim?”

Well, here’s the thing. Since the ‘Doctor Who’ TV series came back, we have had stories often in TV, audios, books and comics where they contradict themselves about established events. This is in relation to there being multiple Mary Shelley stories; multiple Ace endings and multiple Nyssa endings.

I’m wondering if the Doctor, Charley and C’rizz never returned to the home universe that was last seen in ‘Zagreus’. Maybe they returned to a familiar home universe, but it was still a parallel universe all the same. Thus why the Doctor was able to meet Mary Shelley again for the first time! 😐

Maybe Ace did run A Charitable Earth instead of ending up being killed in the comic story ‘Ground Zero’. Maybe Nyssa did end up with Tegan in Australia as opposed to ending up in E-Space. The Eighth Doctor could have ended up in a different reality altogether than the one he last appeared in.

Timelord007: “So, does that mean that the ‘Shada’ with Paul McGann took place before or after ‘The Divergent Universe’ season of stories?”

“Ah! Yes, well, there is a possibility…”

Timelord007: “And you’re forgetting about the fact that an older Eighth Doctor met Mary Shelley in ‘The Company of Friends’ as well as a young Eighth Doctor. Did that take place before or after ‘The Divergent Universe’ season?”

“Well, it’s a working theory. But it’s still plausible. What do you think?”

Timelord007: “Anything’s possible, I guess. But I prefer to believe they made it home. There are enough timey wimey alternative realities in ‘Doctor Who’ already. I don’t think we need another complex timeline.”

“Fair enough. Thanks, Timelord.”

So, to sum up, ‘The Next Life’

Timelord007: “…is a story with a good cast and has some excellent ideas that were poorly executed. It has a strong opening scene let down by trying to tie up too many plot threads in ‘The Divergent Universe’ season. At times, the pacing was slow and boring. Worse, the excellent Don Warrington is completely underused and wasted as Rassilon, who deserves far better material. I felt the story became more confusing as it progressed, which left me feeling “Meh”.”

Well, despite Timelord’s different opinion on the story, I still have a soft spot for ‘The Next Life’.

Timelord007: “What?! Are you out of your mind, Tim?!”

“No, of course not!”

I don’t think it’s a great season finale to a set of stories set in a pocket universe with the Eighth Doctor, Charley and C’rizz. But I think it does do its job well in rounding up things in a satisfactory manner, especially in a six-part story. This is especially as ‘The Divergent Universe’ arc was cut short.

I still like the performances of the actors and there are some enjoyable scenes to take away from this adventure. I enjoyed ‘The Next Life’ as a standalone story before hearing ‘The Divergent Universe’ season and I still enjoyed it even more when it came to hearing and reviewing the season.

As for ‘The Divergent Universe’ season itself, it’s decent enough. I don’t think it’s a great set of ‘Doctor Who’ stories compared to ‘The Key to Time’ and the E-Space set of stories. I would have done things differently by having the TARDIS found earlier and have the characters progressed differently. 🙂

But for what it’s worth, ‘The Divergent Universe’ season is worthwhile. It has interesting concepts in each of the eight stories and the performances of Paul McGann, India Fisher and Conrad Westmaas are good. Despite the flaws this season had, the journey into the Divergent Universe is a fun ride. 😀

Timelord007:‘The Next Life’ does do an awesome final tease that sets up the next story ‘Terror Firma’, but a fun teaser doesn’t save this from being an uninspiring lacklustre conclusion to a season of stories set in a pocket universe.”

“Well, that’s your opinion, Timelord, and I respect that. Just as much as you respect my unique opinions about ‘Doctor Who’ and the stories it has.”

Timelord007: “If we all had the same opinions, life would be incredibly dull.”

“Thanks for joining me on the final leg of this review season. It’s been nice to have you tag along.”

Timelord007: “Thank you, Tim. I keep saying I’m retired from reviewing, but you have a canny knack of pulling me back into reviewing.”

And thank you my readers for joining me on this ‘Divergent Universe’ review season, including ‘The Next Life’ itself. I hope you enjoyed it! (to himself) Now, what can I review for 2023’s Easter review season. It will have to be something ‘Doctor Who’ 60th anniversary-related, I suppose.

Timelord007: (to audience) “Goodbye and thanks for reading our review.”

‘The Next Life’ rating by Tim Bradley – 8/10
‘The Next Life’ rating by Timelord007 – 4/10


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2 thoughts on “‘The Next Life’ (Audio)

  1. Timelord 007

    A very good review with two differing opinions, i always felt this was a letdown as a finale to the Divergent Universes arc which is a shame because from Twilight Kingdom – Caerdroia each story was building up to something that sadly for me this story didn’t pay off, i find the characters behaviours at times odd & the storys tone feels uneven.

    I like Don Warrington as a actor especially in Death In Paradise & casting him as Rassilon was a excellent idea but this script gives him very little to do.

    As always i respect your opinion & enjoyed our debate on this story you’re a excellent writer/reviewer & a kind caring good hearted person & one of the nicest people i know.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi Simon,

      Greatly enjoyed doing this review on ‘The Next Life’ with you. Glad you enjoyed it too. I know we can’t agree on how we feel about this story as the finale to ‘The Divergent Universe’ season, but I’ve had fun checking out these stories. I’m glad you enjoyed my recent reviews on them as well as doing a review on ‘The Next Life’ with me. Yes, Don Warrington as Rassilon has been very good in stories like ‘Neverland’, ‘Zagreus’, ‘Caerdroia’ and ‘The Next Life’ and I’ve enjoyed him as the President of Great Britain in ‘Rise of the Cybermen’. I’ve yet to see him in ‘Death in Paradise’. 😀

      Many thanks for your kind words . Thanks again for helping me out with this review.

      Best wishes,

      Tim 🙂

      Like

      Reply

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