Doom Coalition 4
Written by John Dorney and Matt Fitton
Directed by Ken Bentley
Cast: Paul McGann (The Doctor), Nicola Walker (Liv Chenka), Hattie Morahan (Helen Sinclair), Alex Kingston (River Song), Mark Bonnar (The Eleven), Robert Bathurst (Padrac), Emma Cunniffe (The Sonomancer), Rufus Hound (The Meddling Monk), Beth Chalmers (Veklin), Carolyn Pickles (Cardinal Ollistra), Jacqueline Pearce (Ollistra), Olivia Poulet (Jerasta), Vince Leigh (Volstrom/ Matrix Keeper/ Computer), Sasha Behar (Presidential Aide/ Tessno/ Ladonne), Ronnie Ancona (Joanie Carrington), Alex Beckett (Alekall). Other parts played by members of the cast.
Released March 2017 by Big Finish Productions
4.1. Ship in a Bottle
With the intro setting the tone for what is to come, the events pick up from the ending of Doom Coalition 3. Feeling very much like a 12th Doctor introduction, there are even subtle nods to the cherished Tennant era and that’s just in the opening 5 or so minutes. The initial scenario The Doctor, Liv and Helen find themselves in allows for significant demonstration of their personalities and their feelings as to the events of previous stories in the series. Even as the story progresses, regardless of how dangerous the situation, the characters remain well-developed throughout. This episode serves partly as a recap, but also as a method of seeing the entirety of Doom Coalition from a new perspective. Given there’s no actual enemies, the slew of references to prior events and the theme of the acceptance of death featuring so prominently, it’s a very human opening to what I hope will be a fitting conclusion, even if there’s no complete closure to this story.
4.2. Songs of Love
With a title like that, it was almost certain what, or rather who, was going to show up and the character in question doesn’t disappoint. Appearing as part of a flashback relative to the previous story, what we see is an interesting change of heart, though one that is sure to have a reason behind it.
This primarily Time Lord centric story features some moments that, whilst unexpected, are well-executed, in addition to sequences that really emphasise just how much danger the universe is really in at this point in the plot. However, the references to Series 6 of the television show and events therein might confuse those who stopped watching after the 10th Doctor’s departure.
That does not mean this story suffers, though it does try to run two simultaneous plot threads as well as introducing several important points. At least the political edges of this story fit with the rest of the puzzle in well thought out cinematic fashion.
4.3. The Side of the Angels
Finally this box set has a clear villain to work with, but blink and you might miss them. If I say nothing else about them and if you haven’t heard the trailer, I will credit the sound designers on introducing one of The Doctor’s most well-known foes in recent memory with a fitting entrance. Of course, The Eleven is now embroiled in the plot too, but that doesn’t mean other Time Lords from The Doctor’s history can’t join in either.
This story seems to take a far clearer line than the last, with sound design and musical scoring to match the setting and the enemies involved in what are only described as “insane” plans. Such plans, with a fair number of references and memorable moments, speed this story forth to its dramatic conclusion.
4.4. Stop the Clock
Is it too much to make a half pun, half reference to Mummy On The Orient Express here, specifically that certain events we witness during this story have been Foretold?
Probably. Then again, considering how many references the stories leading up to this have provided, it’s probably not the worst way to open discussion on this final piece in the Doom Coalition puzzle. So as not to spoil what is a slightly disorienting conclusion, including an ending that appears to possibly have influences from a well-known Japanese film franchise, I’ll leave it at that.
With a seamless score, a confident cast and a plot that knows just where it’s going even if the audience doesn’t, Big Finish certainly deliver in what probably won’t be the final 8th Doctor adventures set in this overarching plotline.