Saturday 1 May 2021

WHO REVIEW ROUND-UP: Echoes of Extinction (Time Lord Victorious)

 Ah, I was excited for this one. Originally intended for a two-sided vinyl release in November, it was pushed back due to COVID so that at least the shops could be open when the record went out. Having a Doctor Who LP sounds appealing, but since I'd have no way to play the thing I got the traditional download. The idea of Paul McGann and David Tennant meeting sharing an adventure was too tempting to pass up. Then it became clear that they would be experiencing separate but linked adventures, which seemed a missed opportunity, but then we've had a lot of multi-Doctor stories lately so I reasoned it was a different way of approaching it. Still, it seems a bit of a swiz that the two Doctors don't meet at all.

Still, let's rate the story on its merits, not its fannish concerns. Oh dear. Sadly, Echoes of Extinction just isn't terribly good. The central concept, that of a monster haunted by voices that push him to kill is solid, but the execution, if you'll forgive the pun, is unarresting. The second half, with the Tenth Doctor, is more entertaining than the first, largely because Tennant gives a spirited performance while McGann unfortunately sounds unenthused. This has always been a problem of his audios: you can tell when he's enjoying a script or not. There are some fan-pleasing actor choices here too, with Burn Gorman portraying the obsequious Network and Arthur Darvill as a cockney space pirate type, and while they're pretty entertaining, the characters aren't all that great to begin with. Mina Anwar and Kathryn Drysdale are pretty solid, but again, haven't got all that much to work with. Unfortunately, Inès de Clercq is wholly unsuited to her role as the Captain Frye. Is she only in this because she's Darvill's wife?

I'm also unconvinced by this release's inclusion in the Time Lord Victorious range, which is petering out now during its overextended run. The only link to the overall story is the vague similarity of the genocidal monster of this release to the genocidal monsters of the main plot. The Tenth Doctor name drops the Kotturuh and muses that the Eighth Doctor, whose involvement he has become aware of, is about to go through the nasty bits of the Dark Times affair, but it's pretty flimsy. This wouldn't really matter if the story itself was stronger, but as it is, it's all rather forgettable.

Placement: The Eighth Doctor is shortly to experience the events of the Time Lord Victorious range, so presumably for him this is after the Stranded box sets but before He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not. For the Tenth Doctor, it's after the TLV main stories, the most recent being All Flesh is Grass, however, he also mentions his fiance Liz, presumably a reference to Elizabeth I in The Day of the Doctor. On the other hand, they actually married in that story, and he sounds more like he's doing an impression of Elizabeth II, which raises all sorts of questions. On balance, right after The Day of the Doctor, allowing for some clouding of the Doctor's memories of those events.