Sunday, 7 March 2010
Review: Circular Time
My adventures into the Big Finish range of Doctor Who audios continues with a very different production. 'Circular Time', written by Paul Cornell (Father's Day, Human Nature/The Family of Blood) and Mike Maddox, consists of four standalone Fifth Doctor and Nyssa adventures that nevertheless, to me at least, seems to have subtle themes running throughout concerning Nyssa's traumatic past and the Doctor's role in time.
More interestingly each story is set in a different season, which gives them all something of a different feel. Spring features the Doctor and Nyssa chasing down a rogue Time Lord in a society of bird-people. It's possibly the weakest of the four stories, but does feature some pretty interesting discussions on Time Lord interference and regeneration. Plus it has a TARDIS disguised as a lake. Summer features a brilliant performance by David Warner as an unstable Isaac Newton, suspicious of a captive Doctor and Nyssa. There's a scene in which he deduces the nature of the Doctor using only some coins and his genius, and it is both sublimely written and acted.
Autumn is an interesting story. Fans of 'Black Orchid' will have plenty to enjoy, as the Doctor pretty much plays cricket for the entire episode. Obviously, this is not all that happens asn the subplot involving Nyssa's romance is beautifully played and her eventual facing of her past is both touching and understated. For me, as well, this story does the best at evoking the season in which it is set, as one can really picture the drawing in of the days and almost feel the beating of the low autumn sun. Finally comes Winter, for my money the best of the four stories here. It's based on a brilliant premise, which I couldn't possibly spoil here, and is again very touching in place.
Overall, this is a great collection of individual stories, well written and acted all round, and packed with great ideas. However I might suggest that it might be more enjoyed by those with good knowledge of the classic series (there is a hilarious reference to the very first episode during the Summer episode). The winter section, in particular, requires familiarity with a particular Fifth Doctor story to get the most out of it. But to someone who is an avid fan of Whos new and old, I can highly recommend this collection.