Guest contributor Kieran Brennan takes a look at the earth-shattering season finale to the Eighth Doctor’s second series of audio adventures: Neverland!
Charlotte Pollard being rescued from the R101 is breaking the Web of Time. Finally caught by the Time Lords, the Doctor and Charley must finally face the consequences of messing with history… and if they don’t, it may mean the destruction of time as they know it.
Neverland is the finale of the arc that’s been building since Storm Warning and, in terms of scale and concept, it feels like any modern Who finale and then some. What Neverland really excels in and revels in, is its character dynamics, which has always been what attracted me to the series when I first started watching in the mid 2000s. The relationships between the Doctor, Rose, Martha etc were always what drove my love of the show, and while the classic series does of course play with character arcs and evolving relationships, from what I’ve seen it never delves into them quite like this.
The Doctor and Charley bicker, fight, make up, apologize, fight again and continue to play off each other wonderfully as they’ve done for the past however many releases. The plot quality of their adventures has always been inconsistent but what’s always been a pleasure to hear are the performances of Paul McGann and India Fisher.
Acting wise, this may be both actors finest Big Finish release yet. Both are at the absolute top of their game bringing so much emotional weight to every line, Fisher is really allowed to test her own abilities and run with new material and ways of saying things, while McGann is given a more emotionally outward side of the Doctor to show off. All of the guest actors here are great as well, particularly Don Warrington and Lalla Ward.
Without delving into spoilers, plot wise this is one of the Eighth Doctor’s best adventures yet. Maybe it drags a little on occasion, but for the most part the dive into Gallifreyan lore is welcoming and refreshing. To anyone who claims Gallifrey is boring, show them this. The concepts and ideas on show here feel so unique, and at the same time very “how haven’t we done this before?”. Maybe the explanations of them take a little while to get through, but once your head is wrapped around them they work perfectly.
This is one of those stories that’s hard to talk about in a non spoiler-y fashion, it’s full of interesting twists and turns and leaves things on a really interesting note for future adventures.
Neverland rarely slows down, constantly barraging you with new ideas and characters, each one memorable and exciting. McGann and Fisher pull off their best performances so far in what is some of the best relationship work I’ve seen Big Finish do yet.
Neverland is available as a download from http://www.bigfinish.com