Doctor Who: The Gates of Hell Review

Out of the three “Out of Time” releases (which drives me crazy as the first story was just called “Out of Time” with no subtitle, so don’t try and retroactively add that as a series title!) this is the one I was least interested in only due to the fact that this pairing of “classic and new” Doctors had already been done, and in live action no less. Still, they do have the odd relationship of actually getting on, which most Doctor pairings don’t, so this story felt quite unique in that sense. Let’s take a look!

Synopsis:

Paris, 1809. The Fifth Doctor takes a tour of the Catacombs and meets a sassy Time Agent doing the same…

Paris, 1944. The Tenth Doctor misses his target and lands in occupied France. He hides from the Nazis – in the Catacombs.

A collision of two Doctors’ timelines triggers a temporal catastrophe, granting the Cybermen dominion over the Earth.

The Doctors must travel back in time to find the source of the Cyber-invasion and close the Gates of Hell…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

The core set up is pretty plain (for a Doctor Who story!) in that the timeline changes to one where the Cybermen have conquered all of Earth and so the Doctors have to travel to when this change happened and set history back on its correct course. The Tenth Doctor meets his Fifth self in the catacombs under Paris in 1944, the younger Doctor having been caught in a temporal net when visiting the catacombs 1809 and discovering Cybermen sleeping there. The two Doctors meeting seemingly kicks the new Cybermen dominated timeline into effect and they quickly head to a nearby archive to try and figure out the point at which everything changed. After some working out and a bit of a run they figure out the exact date and place when the whole thing changed and head there in the Fifth’s TARDIS (leading to some great Tenth Doctor fangasming over classic stuff scenes)

Turns out the whole thing started with a man named Joseph Delon (Mark Gatiss) getting partially converted and using his father’s catacombs to create the Cyber Army with the help of some sort of glowing orb with time travel tech in it. They manage to save Joseph but not his father, and then eventually use the Cybermen’s own time technology against them and send the Cyberman that started it all back to prehistoric Earth. The two Doctors then go their separate ways, though imply they really enjoy each other’s company and that they might do that the long way round…

It’s technically nothing special, but it’s extremely fun to listen to.

The Bad:

Great cover, though the Cybermen being the central focus is almost false advertising, really…

The only bad part about the story is Tina Drake (Shelley Conn) a Time Agent who also gets wrapped up in the story. She literally couldn’t be more generic if she tried: American accent, cheesy sarcasm, proudly has a gun with different settings, she seemingly leaves The Doctors in the lurch but then ends up helping them with the gun they chastised her for using… all that stuff. All she needed to do was be a bit flirty and have her gun make some sort of click-click sound and the genericness would become 100% complete. She survives and lets the Doctors off for crossing their own time streams, but if she ever does appear again I hope she gets more personality, or at least a more interesting one!

The Continuity:

There are several references to “Time Crash”, the mini-sode that saw the Fifth and Tenth Doctors meet during the latter’s TV run, but beyond that not much! The Tenth Doctor does mention the Fourth’s trip to Paris with Romana in “City of Death” though. That’s something!

Overall Thoughts:

“The Gates of Hell” is a fun multi-Doctor story, where the two Doctors switch between Doctor and companion role throughout the story, giving both incarnations time to shine and giving us plenty of fun interaction between the two. The story is pretty plain and the extra Time Agent character is bland as hell, but I can’t deny I had a big smile on my face throughout the story.

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