The Eighth Doctor returns in Big Finish's latest special release box set - Dark Eyes, written and directed by Nicholas Briggs.
The Doctor arrives in the middle of a World War One gas attack. As ever all is not as it seems and soon he and a young Irish volunteer nurse called Molly O'Sullivan are on the run across space and time, pursued by the implacable Daleks, and trying to unravel a strange plot involving another rogue Time Lord.
Phew! After the disappointment of Love and War I really needed a good Big Finish story to restore my faith. Thankfully Dark Eyes delivers. It helps that it mainly focuses on the Doctor and Molly and their headlong dash across the universe. There is some back story involving the Time Lords but the story doesn't try to cover too many different plot strands. And, of course, it has the Daleks in it, which is almost guaranteed to keep me entertained.
Paul McGann continues to impress me with his natural performance as the Doctor. Ruth Bradley is nicely feisty as Molly and I liked the way she refers to our hero as "THE Doctor", and the Tardis as his "Tardy-box". Peter Egan and Toby Jones are great actors with fantastic voices and I hope they do more Big Finish stories in the future. Having recently watched some classic Doctor Who I know that the original Dalek voices were not as good as I remember them, but Nicholas Briggs makes them sound like they do in my memories, mechanical and menacing.
I had one or two reservations about the scripting of Molly in the first episode where there were a few too many Irish colloquialisms used just to make sure we knew she was a working class Irish chambermaid. I was worried that she was going to say "to be sure" at the end of every sentence but fortunately this settles down as the pace of the story picks up. The background noises and special effects were top notch, and the CD extras were much more interesting than Love and War, although they did include another Big Finish lunch anecdote.
Despite my minor quibbles this is a fantastic adventure which justifies the special release tag. 4.5 out of 5 steampunk screwdrivers. Recommended.