The War Doctor’s adventures continue in this second box set, overall subtitled Infernal Devices – and the first of those two words is certainly appropriate to the plan that he uncovers in this opening tale by John Dorney. It pits Hurt’s Time Lord who feels as if he doesn’t warrant the name “the Doctor” (even if most other members of his race feel that he quite definitely still does, given his actions) against David Warner as Shadovar, a Technomage whose people have an interesting relationship with technology. The Technomages aren’t a new concept in science fiction, but their endgame is rather different from most previous examples, and reminds both the Doctor and the audience that the Daleks aren’t the only enemies out there.
Survivors’ Zoe Tapper guest stars as Collis, this story’s “companion” – I’m using the word in inverted commas, as, along with much else in this particular range, most usual Doctor Who tropes are subverted in some way or other. She epitomises the problems that the Doctor encounters, and it’s the way in which she changes that pushes him into a decision that perhaps earlier incarnations might have balked at, but which is eminently correct in this instance. Hurt and Tapper work well together, with director Nick Briggs bringing out a growing relationship between the characters that – as is inevitable perhaps in this series – is hardly likely to end well. (It doesn’t exactly start well, come to that…!)
The cinematic scope of the first box set continues in this story, with suitably bombastic music and sound design, and the story ends on an intriguing cliffhanger…
Verdict: The shades of grey of the War Doctor’s era are to the fore in this strong tale. 9/10