Certainly I didn’t waste my money when I bought the entire run of series four of the Eighth Doctor and Lucie plays. All four series are among the best Doctor Who and the best audio I know, and you could do much worse than to listen to them. If the current TV series is for the children growing up steadily on a diet of Eccleston, Tennant, and Smith, then the Eighth Doctor Adventures are for the thinking man (or woman)—they do a lot with small casts and the imagination of the inner eye. For morals and intelligent writing, my money’s on them. And boy, do they sometimes pack an emotional punch.
I was really impressed by Eddie Robson’s Prisoner of the Sun. It’s been awhile since I’d heard the plays that immediately preceded it, so I was a bit confused to start off with. However, a fabulous device enabled us to get the backstory without feeling conned. The Doctor is imprisoned in a facility inside a sun, trying to keep the sun stable and not cause it to blow up and kill millions of people on a planet below. He has an assistant in the form of an android. His second version, Chloe, starts off the story by trying to kill him. He gets a replacement, in the form of Daphne, and it’s to her, as a newborn, he tells the whole story. All of the Doctor’s androids come programmed with Lucie’s voice, which was kind of pathetic—the Doctor’s midlife crises à la the Eleventh Doctor’s obsessive attempts to hold on to Amy and Rory—but also adorably sweet.
The Doctor is imprisoned on the sun by a race called the Mercurials who can withstand the extreme temperatures. Conflict really begins, however, when someone tries to rescue the Doctor. But do they want to kill him? Rescue him? Martyr him or betray him? Has what he has been doing for six years all been a lie? I loved this story; you never knew who to trust or who was telling the truth. I also loved how the Doctor, like Batman, had planned for every contingency and was truly smarter than everyone else. It was a fabulous story and complemented Robson’s already impressive catalogue.
As for the final showdown . . . I was so anxious to hear the continuations after Prisoner of the Sun, I decided to listen to To the Death before Lucie Miller because the latter wasn’t working on my MP3 player and the former was. Can I just say . . . SOB?! This story is the culmination of all of the plotlines from this series and beyond, combining the Daleks’ ascendancy with the machinations of the Meddling Monk, the Doctor’s misguided former companion Tamsin Drew, and the fates of his granddaughter Susan, his great-grandson Alex, and Lucie Miller, the brash girl from Blackpool dumped on his doorstep by the Time Lords. That’s all I can say without putting up the SPOILER filter.
SPOILERS / I got tears in my eyes when Lucie died. I was surprised but not shocked when Tamsin copped it, then as the audacity grew and they killed off Alex, Tamsin, and Lucie, I couldn’t believe it. I should have seen it coming, I suppose, but it was definitely a blow below the belt. I was also impressed at how much the Monk seemed to grieve after he caused Tamsin’s death.
What will the Eighth Doctor do now? Is he on his way to becoming the Ninth Doctor?
I cannot stress enough the quality of these stories.