Review: Doctor Who: Big Finish: The War Doctor 1.3: The Heart of the Battle

DWTWD0103_theheartofthebattle_1417What act can finally confirm the War Doctor’s self-assessment as a monster?

If David Richardson and the team can keep up the standard of this first box set, then Big Finish are on to yet another winner: this final episode of Only the Monstrous constantly keeps the listener guessing, with the Doctor caught between the lesser of two evils… all the while trying to foil the plans of someone who in any other circumstances he would be putting all his energies toward assisting. This may be an audio war movie in concept, but it’s got the shades of grey that most such films avoid – and at the back of my mind on more than one occasion was Nick Briggs himself speaking the line “You would make a good Dalek” to Eccleston’s Doctor in Robert Shearman’s 2005 tale.

The production values on this story have been high – Howard Carter’s soundscapes have been one of the strengths of the production, and his new version of the theme is rapidly becoming one of my favourites (complete with its Survivors-esque little motif which may be unconscious, but extremely appropriate). There are plenty of strands left hanging for future stories – I do wonder if Vecklin was listening when Ollistra explained what should have happened during the mission – and it’ll be interesting to see just how much the Doctor can take before he decides “no more”…

Verdict: Moral quandaries, rapidfire countdowns, treachery in high places… the ingredients for a thrilling finale. 9/10

Paul Simpson

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