The original Dark Eyes quite rightly has been feted for its new approach to the Eighth Doctor’s adventures, and the epic tale which it told. Glad to say that the sequel box set emulates its scope, telling its story on a wide canvas both in time and space, yet director Nick Briggs ensures that we never lose sight of the personal tales and characters at its heart.
As with a number of Big Finish stories recently, chances are you’re going to want to go straight back and listen to the first part again once you’ve experienced the whole story – there are many layers to it which don’t necessarily make sense the first time around that will be much clearer once you’ve reached the end of the fourth episode.
There are a lot of returning characters – Nicola Walker’s Liv Chenka (who previously appeared in Nick Briggs’ Robophobia, which, if you’ve not heard it, is well worth the listen); Alex Macqueen’s very different incarnation of the Master (oh when are we getting the team-up with Geoffrey Beevers?); and of course Ruth Bradley as Molly O’Sullivan, whose returning dark eyes presage further problems. If you’ve not heard the original box set, there’s enough explained for this to stand up, although of course you’ll get more out of it as a sequel.
Now that we know where the Paul McGann incarnation fits into the whole Time War picture, there’s plenty of opportunity for this series to start to sow more seeds of that conflict, and while some of the ideas thrown out may prove to be red herrings, those of us who (perhaps sadly) have a good working knowledge of the Who multiverse can see the strands which Briggs, Alan Barnes and Matt Fitton are working with – from both old and new versions of the show.
Each of the stories is very different, but they form a cohesive whole – and with a number of unanswered questions, not to mention a dastardly cliffhanger, you’ll be eagerly awaiting the third set.
Verdict: Another strong series for the Eighth Doctor. 8/10