The second half of the second “series” (or boxset, let’s face it) of the Eighth Doctor’s Time War adventures is a pair of pretty standard stories. Neither “In the Gardren of Death” or “Jonah” will make you jump out of your seat and praise how great they are, but neither will leave un-entertained at the same time. In fact they’re both good stories, but they just lack that spark of originality… so let’s see what I mean!
Official Synopsis (of Jonah):
In a prison camp like no other, the Most Dangerous Man in the Universe is held in isolation. The rest of the inmates have no memory of who they were or what they might have done.
No memory even of their captors. Until the interrogations begin.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
A second look at the overall box cover. I see the Dalek submarines have large eye stalks on them… Makes sense?
The Doctor (Paul McGann) – The Doctor and his companion Bliss are still skimming the outskirts of the Time War, helping where they can… at least they would if they could remember who they were fighting… or how they came to be in a strange garden prison…
Bliss (Rakhee Thakrar) – Bliss is able to walk freely across the strange garden prison she finds herself in, and enjoys her meet up with fellow inmates… whoever they are.
The Daleks (Nicholas Briggs) – The Daleks are genocidal mutants in pepper-pot shells that really just want to hug… no, sorry, wipe out all non-Dalek life in the universe, that’s it.
The Twelve (Julia McKenzie) – The Twelve, unlike her previous self, can control her multiple personalities that the past regeneration mishap caused… well, that was until she was locked in a garden prison and had her memories messed with…
Cardinal Ollistra (Jacqueline Pearce) – Cardinal Ollistra is willing to literally do anything in order to win the Time War against the Daleks, and that includes using her own kind as pawns.
Tamasan (Nikka Amuka-Bird) – Tamasan found herself without punishment stemming from her time with Carvil and his missile silos, and is now reporting straight to Ollistra…
Great cover, the effect of the red light on what is just a screengrab of The Doctor is particularly well done.
You might think that the Eighth Doctor losing his memory is unoriginal (and you’d be right!) but I did enjoy “In the Garden of Death” for the way it handled the memory loss of The Doctor and his pals. They know they’re in prison, they know they have “the enemy” to blame, but that’s it. It isn’t until they’re taken to interrogation that they remember The Daleks, due to this and The Doctor’s extra special containment space, he starts to wonder if he is some mass murdering criminal to deserve such confinements. The talks he has with a weary Bliss, wondering why he knows so much about escaping and interrogation techniques, that excellently leads to when he gets his memory back and how he almost still agrees with himself, maybe he should be locked up, not for what he’s done, but what he might have to do (… he’s not far off, really…)
“Jonah” is a fun story that sees The Doctor in charge of a submarine on an ocean planet that the Daleks are mysteriously digging into the core of. The Twelve knows what they’re digging for, but a previous incarnation has buried the memory away, and all the while Ollistra and Tamasan watch over from a safe distance in their own ship. The people of the planet all speak with (natural) Asian accents, which is unique as well, sadly unique isn’t what you’d call the plot and its ending, but I’ll get to that below. Either way, it was still a good story to listen too, and a fine job by all involved.
While “In the Garden of Death” wasn’t up to much beyond some interesting memory-loss induced dialogue, “Jonah” had a lot of promise but it ended up that the Daleks were looking for was a God-like being that could grant them future-sight and therefore win them the war, and I have to say I was disappointed. We’ve had a lot of these Time War stories boil down to “The Daleks and the Time Lords fight over a new weapon that could win them the war” and I was hoping for more, especially since the whole submarine setting was more unique, and the guest cast were all good. The God-like being doesn’t give the Daleks Godly power, and then offers it to the Time Lords, and The Doctor refuses before Ollistra could agree, and then it dies. The Doctor’s logical conclusion that his own kind would be the same, if not worse, than the Daleks with that kind of power makes Ollistra angry again, and off we go… again. It was all very samey, not bad, well acted and all, but samey.
On the Dalek submarines there was a Dalek Admiral (why they use our military ranks I don’t know) who Nicholas Briggs decided to voice with a soft whisper instead of the usual bass-y Dalek boom, and it was… odd. Not bad like the Dalek Overseer from the previous half of this box, just… odd. At times it sounds like Briggs whispering in the my ear, other times it sounded like a really sinister Dalek. Either way, I won’t be upset if it never appears again…
The Twelve, I’ve decided, I don’t like. The problem is that her other selves just sound like The Twelve going crazy, where as The Eleven (or more specifically his voice actor Mark Bonnar) made each incarnation sound different, giving it a proper “loads of different incarnations in his head” feel, rather than a crazy old woman talking to herself. I also have to mention that Bliss is still generic, her personality can only be described as “Doctor Who Companion”. She just talks to the Doctor, asks questions when needed, and occasionally acts sarcastic. After all that anger and sadness she showed in the first story of this set, it’s a shame to see her revert to forgettable.
Yeesh… this isn’t the best example of photoshopping people’s heads onto different bodies I’ve ever seen…
The Eighth incarnation of the Doctor has a habit of losing his memory, from his very first appearance in the TV Movie, to audio story “Orbis”, and several other times as well (even more if you count the novels!).
Ollistra made her debut in the War Doctor stories, starting with “The Innocent”, though those obviously occur after this story, timeline-wise.
This double pack of stories are fun to listen to, they pass a near-hour each perfectly fine, but at no point are your expectations exceeded, instead it’s kind of easy to see where everything is going. Nothing is wrong, in fact the giant God-like creature with a fantastical name fits right in to how the war was described by Russell T. Davies’ original TV scripts, but it’s just predictable. A 4 for being good and well acted, but far away from a 5.