Kieran Brennan tackles the next instalment in the Eighth Doctor range: Time Works!
The TARDIS lands on a mysterious world that appears to exist on another plane of time. The Doctor and friends find themselves caught between the seconds, with all those around them frozen. But when the Doctor suddenly enters the regular progression of time again, it appears he may have lost Charley and C’rizz forever. Time’s running out and the clockwork men are coming. Tick Tock.
Time Works is yet another in the increasingly frustrating slate of Eighth Doctor stories that were originally intended to be set in the Divergent Universe, but were slightly reworked to fit in the regular universe. I say slightly because there really isn’t much changed here; tonally and concept wise this feels like it should have been in that arc. I remember being sad that the arc was ended prematurely, but now that decision just brings me frustration.
I just don’t see the point of ending an arc early if you intend to use all of the previously planned stories for it. Time Works is, like all of the stories intended for the Divergent Universe, missing something. With the element of overarching plot and connectivity lost from the story you would hope something has been introduced to replace it, but instead the stories feel empty and without purpose. Tonally, there’s a repetition of dour themes that creates a quite depressing atmosphere. It’s all so miserable the whole time, rarely taking the time to throw in a joke or two.
And of course like many stories from the Divergent Universe this has the problem of a great opening part but a lackluster conclusion. All of these adventures just end up being dull and forgettable despite having some great ideas. It’s an annoying amount of wasted opportunity and the problem is so consistent and constant that it simply MUST be a problem coming down from the producers rather than the writers.
Anyway, to actually briefly talk about the story, it’s a standard revolution story but with an admittedly great concept for an antagonist. This world’s people are being used to build a machine and every second counts. People must be productive at all times and if not the clockwork men will kill them in a literal split second. It creates a cool setting to explore, and, with Charley and C’rizz being stuck in a time zone ahead of the Doctor’s, it makes for some fun interactions across time zones.
The big problem is how fast this gimmick is dropped after it’s introduced, as, although it’s by far the best idea in the release and the one I feel is most fun to explore from a creative perspective, it is discarded in place of the aforementioned revolution story. This is one of those stories that was a real slog for me to get through; Big Finish don’t do many bad stories but they can definitely pull off a boring one if they want.
Time Works is a skippable story, offering little in the way of engagement or overarching story. The tone of the Divergent Universe is exhausting at this point, having overstayed its welcome for quite a while now. One can only hope an upcoming adventure can add some much needed freshness to the Eighth Doctor’s catalogue of stories.
Time Works is available as a download from http://www.bigfinish.com