The War Doctor Begins side-range continues with another trio of stories, the first two of which don’t feel very Time War-y, where as the third is very Time War-y, so it was an easy decision how to split this box into two! This doesn’t mean the stories in this half of the set’s review are bad per say, but more that given the setting it seemed like something of a waste. Let’s take a look!
The Keeper of Light caught me by surprise as we start off with The War Doctor (still performed brilliantly by Jonathon Carley) and what is apparently his trusty companion Layla (Emma Campbell-Jones) exploring strange signals in a remote cottage by a lighthouse. There they meet David (Ken Bones) and Dorothy (Adéle Anderson), a grumpy older couple having marital issues, and soon all hell starts to break lose both at sea and on land. It’s a good set up because us the listener know that this more standard set up isn’t right for this Doctor, especially the fact that he’s fine being called Doctor, yet it takes a while for him to realise something’s amiss. The lead villain, the titular Keeper of Light (Hugh Ross) is as cheesy as they come, but not in a bad way so long as you go along with the OTT performance rather than resist it…
As for “Temmosus”, it’s certainly heavy on the war side of things, and ropes the Daleks’ old foes the Thals in on the action. A trio of blonde-haired Skaro natives have stolen a state-of-the-art new warship created by The Doctor himself and plan to use it to attack and destroy their oldest foes. While the Daleks begin to bicker with each other as the ship approaches, the Thals begin to argue about how far to go, with head Thal Dylon (David Warwick) in particular being eager while female Thal Soolal (Rose Basista) acting the opposite, all while The Doctor stands in the middle, not only feeling guilt over designing the ship but about how the Thals have joined the Time War and are so insistent on fighting their old foes despite at heart being a peaceful people, at least until The Doctor got involved in their lives.
More great artwork, including two other Time Lords I never got round to mentioning in this review … Hooray!
It works well as both a look at the Thals and their history with the Daleks, and as a standard war story. I did like the group arguing with The Doctor’s stance of not wanting them to get involved despite fighting the Daleks being a thing they did long before the Time Lords got into the action.
Overall though I’d say neither stood out to me, which is a double-edged sword because it means they weren’t bad enough for me to complain about them but they also didn’t engage me enough to particularly compliment or remember them a few months down the line. The performances were good, the scripts were fine, but… I don’t know, they didn’t click with me.
Nothing really, beyond the obvious Time War stuff, and the Thals, who first appeared in the first ever Dalek story, “The Daleks”, including a Thal leader named Temmosus whose name is used for the ship (and title!) of the second story here. They have made several other appearances across all Who media since.
“The Keeper of Light” is a perfectly fine story that sees the War Doctor given a glimpse at his old life, while “Temmosus” sees the Thals given the spotlight during the Time War. Both are good stories but neither particularly engaged me, the very definition of my text blurb for a 3-star rating!
Not much to add here. The Keeper of Light’s big twist is a rather obvious one, that the titular Keeper had locked The Doctor in a fantasy of his own creation, a fantasy that he was back travelling the universe with a companion in tow. The only real twist with Temmosus is that Dylon is a traitor of all things, but in the end the Thals head back to their new home on “New Davius”.