Kieran Brennan continues his journey through the Eighth Doctor and Lucie’s adventures with his review of Immortal Beloved.
When the Doctor and Lucie encounter two star-crossed lovers about to end their lives, they begin to uncover more than initially expected, as a seemingly ancient society is in possession of futuristic weapons and technology beyond their means. However, what really interests the Doctor is the talk of this planet’s gods. Who is Zeus and what has he done to rule this world?
Immortal Beloved is an effective Doctor Who adventure, but its pacing is certainly clumsy, the story going in odd directions seemingly without structure or any sort of narrative flow. For much of its runtime the pace is breakneck, jumping from plot point to plot point, from concept to concept at an extremely fast rate. In many ways, it feels like a two-hour Monthly Adventures story squished into a single hour. This fact on its own is fine, but the story does end up feeling like it’s trying to do too much at once.
Its second half, however, reveals an extremely interesting premise with intriguing characters and good twists. The concepts are very interesting and unique, but a little underdeveloped. In fact, one has to wonder if the strong premise for this story was originally designed with Doctor Who in mind or if it was just a great sci-fi concept put into a Doctor Who story. It might seem pedantic to question this but it really does have a different feeling from a conventional Doctor Who story.
It’s still messy, granted, and arguably features far too little of the Doctor and Lucie to be considered truly great Doctor Who, but the story being told is at least compelling. Although Big Finish seem to still be working out the kinks of the hour long format, Immortal Beloved is another extremely good attempt and is yet another sign of the strength of this range.
Predictably, the cast featured here are excellent. Paul McGann and Sheridan Smith are put into the background of this story, but the guest cast, particularly David Dobson, are all on top form. This been a common thread in all of these Eighth Doctor releases, and in the bonus material provided in each release, it’s clear the cast enjoy these scripts and characters. I didn’t make a note of it when reviewing the Eighth Doctor’s Monthly Adventures, as behind-the-scenes were mostly absent, but they’re an extremely welcome addition to the overall set.
At times, Immortal Beloved throws too many ideas at its listener, but ultimately holds them together very well, despite the messiness. A great central concept and a solid cast are enough life to make this story both memorable and worth a listen.
Immortal Beloved is available on CD or as a download from http://www.bigfinish.com