Kieran Brennan takes a look at the series two opener of the Eighth Doctor Adventures series!
The Doctor’s on trial in modern day England… no wait, in the 17th century… no wait, hang on, in ancient Rome? Time keeps bouncing around the place, the Doctor and Lucie are separated and there’s a killer on the streets. And all of this because the TARDIS was parked on double yellow lines…
Dead London is our big premiere episode for Series 2 of the Eighth Doctor Adventures. After the huge critical and commercial success of the first series, a return to these characters, dynamics and format are only natural, though this time with a bit of added confidence for good measure. Dead London kicks off the series with what is undoubtedly its best scene. The Doctor stands trial for parking the TARDIS on double yellow lines and banters back and forth with the judge. It’s fast paced, funny, witty, dark, surprising and everything you’d want to instantly catch your attention before launching into a brand new rendition of the Doctor Who theme. It’s a brilliant and extremely effective way to bring us back into the tone and excitement of the series before beginning a slightly complex story.
Now, unfortunately this is the best scene of the story. Not to say it’s all downhill from here, but it’s an early peak the energy of which the episode struggles again. As much as that scene acts as a nice introduction to series 2, the rest of the story doesn’t really. The behind the scenes extras (which are always a welcome and excellent addition to any Big Finish release) make mention that many of the stories from the series were written with no particular order in mind, and that does seems rather clear here as Dead London feels as though it could be put right in the middle of a series 1. Not that that’s a bad thing, readers may remember how much I enjoyed my time in series 1, but I’m sure I’m not alone in expressing a wanting for something a little more meaty in terms of overarching character development and/or plot in a series opener.
After its opening, Dead London slows down considerably and although it never comes to a stop, it doesn’t ever really pick up any of the steam it’s lost. The separation of the Doctor and Lucie allows both to meet new characters, the most interesting of which is Spring-Heeled Sophie played by Clare Buckfield who gets to act alongside Paul McGann, who’s so clearly having a good time in all of this. It’s their dynamic, along with the ever sarcastic Lucie, that make the story work in any way, as the villain may possess an interesting ability, but fails to truly come to life. Listening to the behind the scenes of the previous series and this episode, it’s clear that the cast and crew were genuinely excited to come back for the second series, and it really comes across in the recording.
Dead London is a serviceable opening to the second series of Eighth Doctor Adventures. While it never quite hits the highs of the peaks of series 1, it remains the same consistently fun and engaging series we’ve come to expect.
Dead London is available as a download from http://www.bigfinish.com