Big Finish Review: Doctor Who - Out of Time 1
The long-awaited team-up of Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor and David Tennant's Tenth finally arrives in the latest Doctor Who release from Big Finish. It's the first of three Out of Time adventures featuring Tennant's Doctor; the second will see him team up Peter Davison's Fifth fighting the Cybermen in the Catacombs of Paris, while the third will unite him with Colin Baker's Sixth to take on the Weeping Angels on a distant planet where no one has the power of sight.
Out of Time 1 has been written by Matt Fitton and directed by Nicholas Briggs - who once again provides the voice of the Daleks. It is available to purchase at the Big Finish site here, before going on general release on the 31st October 2020. Here's the synopsis...
The Cathedral of Contemplation is an enigma, existing outside time. It turns through history, opening its doors across the universe to offer solace to those in need.
Occasionally, the Doctor drops in – when he's avoiding his destiny, it’s an ideal place to get some perspective. Only this time he's already there from several lives earlier, so when dimension barriers break down, his past and present collide.
And when the Daleks invade and commandeer the Cathedral, two Doctors must unite to stop them – or face extermination twice over!
On the release of Out of Time 1, here's what Tennant had to say about the release.
Why do we love multi-Doctor stories? I suppose it’s the band all coming together, isn’t it? I remember as a kid I’d read about things like The Three Doctors and could only imagine how exciting that must have been. And then The Five Doctors happened and, well, five Doctors didn’t really get together in the end but three Doctors and a man in a wig and some clips of Tom Baker all got together, and that was exciting enough. Just the idea that Doctors should come together, it’s exciting.”
Director Nicholas Briggs added:
“We were in a planning meeting about a year ago. There was a pause and then senior producer David Richardson said, ‘What about asking David Tennant if he’d like to do an adventure with Tom Baker?’ We all agreed and so I texted David Tennant there and then. He replied within about five minutes, saying yes, and so we made our plans from that point on.
“Doctor Who: Out of Time has got a really neat idea in it that brings the Doctors together. It gives them both a lot of space to be quintessentially their Doctors, while also giving them a lot of interaction with each other – plus fighting the Daleks! What’s not to love about that?”
I'll be joined by my 14-year old son, regular reviewer of Big Finish at The Digital Fix and the world's biggest Doctor Who fan to discuss the latest release...
Multi-Doctor stories are a cause for celebration and there's no denying the magic that comes with getting David Tennant and Tom Baker - two of the biggest Doctors in the show's history - working together. Playing very much as a Tenth Doctor story - complete with post series three theme tune - this is a lovely little tale of how these two Doctors meet with an army of Daleks thrown in to create plenty of havoc.
While there are some intriguing ideas in the Cathedral of Contemplation that exists outside time and Daleks invading through time corridors, the story itself is relatively simple. It certainly won't top the list of multi-Doctor stories in terms of narrative. At just one hour, its focus is straightforward. The two Doctors meet, the Daleks invade and its a race to save everyone and stop the Supreme Dalek from enacting his latest dastardly plan.
Of course, we are all here for Tom Baker and David Tennant and if they spent a whole hour chatting in a tea room comparing knitting patterns, we would all still listen. Both are on fine form; they've performed this roles for Big Finish for some time now (particularly Baker) and they bring plenty of energy to script. Interestingly, the story works bets when they're playing off each other, working together - there's a great moment when the Fourth Doctor laughs at one of the Tenth's jokes. One of the best elements of Fitton's script is the exploration of the Tenth suddenly gaining new memories of him being in this situation as the Fourth as the story continues. There's also the inevitable snide remarks as with any multi-Doctor story and fun to be had with the Fourth not knowing the identify of his future self as first, but this isn't the main focus of Out of Time 1.
There are plenty of fan-pleasing moments too (it's always fun to pinpoint at which point the Doctors have been plucked from), from The Frontier In Space to Sarah Jane Smith and the events of Tennant's third series on the show. The discussion over the Fourth's appreciation of air ducts is particularly fun. And Nicholas Briggs brings plenty of gusto as the Supreme Dalek, facing of against both. The rest of the supporting cast is solid, with Kathryn Drysdale playing off Tennant as well as another one-off Tenth Doctor companion in Jora, a woman faking her heroism just like the Doctor. Claire Rushbrook is terrific as the mysterious Abbess and there's a great surprise surrounding Nicholas Asbury's Captain Zenna.
Out of Time 1 is a delightful treat, with some wonderful interplay between David Tennant and Tom Baker's Doctors; listening to the story you wouldn't think for a second that they weren't recording this together. It has a rather straightforward narrative, but an effective one that taps into who these Doctors are - particularly the impact the Daleks have had on them (the horrors of the Time War are evidently on the Tenth's mind, even if they are never spoken). The banter between the two such magnificent Doctors is what we want to hear the most - and in this - the story certainly doesn't disappoint.
Out of Time 1 has most certainly been the most anticipated release of the month, possibly the year. Since it was first announced a few months ago, the team up of Doctors Four and Ten is something that will delight many fans of the show.
The start of the story, flicking back and forth between the Doctors only heightens the tension of the main event and sure enough, once they do come face-to-face it's just as good as we would have hoped. The arrival of the Daleks a few minutes later really pushes the story into gear and we know we're in for a thrilling ride.
The setting of the Dalek war during the time frame of the Draconians is a nice little callback to Frontier in Space, and is only the first of a series of pleasing references dotted throughout this one hour story. The Daleks themselves are a serviceable threat and certainly have presence (which is a great achievement considering who the stars of this story are) and add a second layer of fun to the tale. The one off companion of this story, Jora, is a wonderful character who has great chemistry with both of the Doctors, while her backstory adds a slightly deeper element into the story. She proves herself resourceful and pleasant company and despite knowing she won't accept, there's a hint of disappointment when she declines the Fourth Doctor's offer to travel with him.
But what everyone really comes here for are the clashing of the Doctors. It's evident from the start that David Tennant is full of glee getting to record a story (albeit remotely) with his first Doctor, Tom Baker, and that really comes across in the Tenth Doctor interactions with the Fourth Doctor. They're great all the way through, but when Four realises who Ten actually is the chemistry really starts to come into play. It's interesting just how much the Tenth Doctor tries to prevent the Fourth from recklessly endangering not just his own life, but as a consequence his future self's life also, probably due to the place where the Tenth Doctor is at, travelling alone and aware of his impending death while also having much more experience in the Daleks due to the Time War. There is an element to the story of the Tenth Doctor almost going against his past self due to the horrors he has seen, most evident when he tells the Fourth he now knows he does have the right to stop the Daleks however he can, while willingly trying to make sure if any of them die it should be him, not his past self with Four trying to reassure him.
But mostly it's just the two Doctors having fun trying to save many lives and stop the Daleks so when it comes to the final interaction with the two of them on a beach it's sad to know their time together is up, despite feeling a good amount of time. That final interaction, with Four telling Ten he should travel with some friends as that is more important than enemies, the two of them briefly joking about travelling together and breaking the rules of time and the Tenth dropping a hint about Romana and K9, is very heartfelt and slightly sad.
Overall, this story is fan service. But it's more than welcome. References to Sarah Jane and her wedding, the Fourth Doctor's future, the sun expanding and the Draconians, is a delight to hear, while the premise of the two most popular Doctors of the show coming together and battling the most iconic monsters more than lives up to the hype. A brilliant multi Doctor story that anyone listening to will be more than pleased by.
No music suite or trailers for the next Out of Time releases, but we do get fifteen minutes of behind the scenes with the cast and crew. Producer David Richardson and director Nicholas Briggs talks about the idea to team up the Tenth and Fourth Doctors after the completion of The Tenth Doctor Adventures Vol 3, and the challenges of getting Tennant involved due to his busy schedule. There's some interesting discussions around the logistics of recording the show remotely in lock down too.
Tennant himself talks about the pleasure of joining Big Finish for new Doctor Who adventures and his own love of watching the classic era multi-Doctor stories as a kid. He is a massive fan of Tom Baker, his first Doctor and perfectly articulates the shadow Tom Baker casts on future Doctors. His memories of working on Doctor Who really shows his love his time on the show, hinting at the possibility of playing the role again (the show's 60th?) Baker talks the delight and jealously of the Fourth Doctor meeting his future incarnation and the mortality of his own persona.
All the guest actors have their own memories of working on televised Doctor Who. Nicholas Asbury shares his experiences of playing a Zygon in Peter Capaldi's The Zygon Invasion / The Zygon Inversion, while Claire Rushbrook shares her memories of working with David Tennant on series two's The Impossible Planet / The Satan Pit. Kathryn Drysdale too, shares her love of David Tennant's Doctor and learning to play the guitar for her role in Love and Monsters.
There's a great love for the creative opportunities these Big Finish stories bring, spearheaded by Tennant himself. And it really is a joy. Long may they continue...