Time's Champions


William Merlock

October 2006

Moral ambiguity is the theme of Time’s Champions, the ambitious 15-part audio drama produced by Infinite Imaginations. The Doctor (Jym DeNatale) has brought companion Christine (Rachel Sommers) to Garidane, a planet of pacifists oppressed by the warlike Hazzari. They become involved in a Garidanian effort to escape their oppressors, a plot that involves developing time travel and fleeing into the planet’s past. But the Hazzari aren’t the only ones interested in foiling the Garidanian research….

An epic of this length is a risky proposition, but veteran writer Robin-Mary Manseth (The Last Colony, The Price of Paradise) is more than up to the task of keeping the tale coherent and captivating. Though this story is broken up into three separate segments of 4-6 parts each, the segments are tightly integrated, making this truly one story rather than a loosely-connected story arc (such as Trial of a Time Lord). The plot itself is interesting, and the pacing is well done, varying from frantic to relaxed at just the right frequency to sustain such a lengthy tale. And Manseth does a great job with characters; she brings them to life in a manner very reminiscent to Robert Holmes and his memorable guest-starring characters.

The regulars shine as well, with both the Doctor and Christine at the top of their form. Time’s Champions turned out unexpectedly to be DeNatale’s final story as the Doctor, and here he delivers what might be his finest performance. His typical boisterous, abrasive, and self-aggrandizing persona is toned down a few notches, his delivery more subtle than in previous dramas. He makes this story better by making it personal; there’s a real feel that the Doctor is on a mission here, a mission to do right by the Garidanians when no one else will. His cards are held close to his chest throughout (in fact, given the Doctor’s agenda and methods, this could almost be a Seventh Doctor story), and this helps create an emotional attachment for the listener at a level that isn’t often present, even in other high-quality audio dramas.

Rachel Sommers turns in a fantastic performance as the Doctor’s companion Christine, a teenager originating in 13th century Earth. And here she is a true teenager, fiery and bold one moment, whiney and helpless the next. She has long been a favorite companion of mine, and here she’s at her best; she has some of the best moments, particularly early in the tale, and those moments are among the most memorable of the story.

The rest of the cast shines particularly brightly as well. I should go through the entire cast list, because each actor brings something special to this drama; but, to keep the word-count of this review to reasonable number, I’ll offer a blanket kudos to all involved. Two actors do stand out, though, for special accolades. It is through his eyes of the Garidanian scientist Thatch that we best see the plight of the Garidanians, and from him that we best experience the effects of the terrible oppression of his people. Thomas Himinez brings Thatch to life; though he gets some of the most fun lines in the story, and delivers them with wonderful charm and humor, he also gets some of the darker moments, and it is in at these times that Himinez really makes us feel the pain of the Garidainian people. On the opposite side, we get Sheri Devine, who rocks as the utterly evil Hazzari Captain Shult. She manages to personify the evils of humanity, going over-the-top only as the story requires to make its point, but never so much that she becomes a caricature. So much of this story is about good, evil, and the grey area in-between; by anchoring the “evil” side of the equation she provides a clear backdrop upon which the rest of the story, the rest of the characters, can be contrasted.

I love the whole underlying theme centered on the Garidanian greeting, “Peaceful Life.” The ideas of pacifism versus oppression; how to fight back while trying to live the Golden Rule; revenge versus justice; social Darwinism; principles versus pragmatism; all these ideas and more fill the 15 parts of this audio drama, making it very meaty listening. The Doctor Who Audio Dramas series produced by Infinite Imagination (formerly by Everlasting Films) has generally excelled at producing thought-provoking stories, and Time’s Champions is an excellent example of such a story.


Ben Chatham

April 2008

Plot:

The TARDIS arrives on Garidane, where the Doctor and Christine team up with the local rebel underground, attempting to construct a working time machine to escape the cruel attacks of the Hazzari bully boys. There begins a lot of running around, with lots of buildings exploding, monsters jumping out of the shadows, and time portals opening. None of them are relevant to the ongoing plot. Christine is captured, escapes, captured, escapes, captured again and escapes, going from a primitive deity to a main course to a slave girl. Meanwhile the Doctor wanders through a sewer, not saying much. The Hazzari discover the time experiments and decide to wipe out the entire civilization. For the **** of it. Meanwhile, it turns out that the entire rebel underground is made up of traitors, including another Time Lord who calls in the cavalry. The Doctor and Christine are sucked in a divergent history of 20th century Earth. So what do they do? Gatecrash divergent UNIT, of course! Unfortunately history is in flux and they get locked up in different bits of parallel history until the Time Lords capture them. Finally, it’s the fifteenth episode, so it’s a trip off to the dawn of Gallifreyan History when Rassilon is strutting his funky stuff. Except that doesn’t actually happen so the Doctor and Christine run around inside the TARDIS away from the Time Lords. The Time Lord’s increasingly heavy handed attempts to catch them cause Garidane to be flung out of reality, which technically counts as saving it from the Hazzari. The Doctor and Christine run for it and the story ends.

Story:

Robin-Mary Manseth pens her first story since the previous Doctor’s The Price of Paradise, a shockingly original story that revitalized the DWADs. Exactly why she was commissioned to write a story longer than many TV seasons is unknown, and she is clearly not up to the task.

Time’s Champions starts on a derivative note with an experiment causing a bird egg to hatch in a time bubble, and a desire for a field integrator to allow further time experiments (identical to the plot of City of Death, and since it’s being written and made by fans, they really should notice these things) and frankly doesn’t improve. Indeed, much of story feels similar to the infamous DWM comic strip The Tides of Time, particularly when history goes into freefall and the armies of different time zones fight each other across the universe while the Doctor and his companion are caught on a strange rollercoaster adventure. Similarly, the Doctor’s capture and trial are more than reminiscent of The Stockbridge Horror. Rather than telling a long story in fifteen episodes, it seems Time’s Champions is a story being artificially stretched, with some episodes only just scraping past the fifteen minute mark.

Worse, there are many long scenes with little point in them bar exposition, and the various set pieces (such as the Doctor being sacrificed by superstitious savages) have nothing original or memorable about them. Episode three in particular seems composed entirely of characters complaining of their fate, and the nasty habit of reusing dialogue from the series (like the Doctor’s failed attempt at hypnosis directly from The Power of Kroll) returns in this story, further proving this story is too long for its concepts. Indeed, the concepts aren’t particularly impressive – The Dominators showed a similar race of galactic thugs picking on pacifists, and The Two Doctors showed civilizations discovering time travel on their own. As in The Perfection Society, we see a civilization that has known of no other life but oppression somehow creates a thriving rebel movement when you assume they would have no reason to think anything was wrong. There’s also a heavy handed War on Terror criticism, with a superpower carpet bombing a defenseless minor power in full view of others who refuse to do anything about this immoral action.

But this, like many ideas are forgotten as the story goes on, and the latter third of the story is unconnected to the events on Garidane. The Chronotrons (ancient time-devouring creatures of Time Lord legend) are not the most inspired of creatures, simply being Chronovores by another name without any obvious intelligence. The TV series two years later revived the Chronovores in the form of the Reapers in Father’s Day, and did a better job since the plot actually focussed on the dangers of such a creature. Time’s Champions has them as just another obstacle to pad out the plot. Particularly painful is episode twelve which recreates episode ten of The War Games with the Doctor and Christine being frozen in time by an invasion by the Time Lords, and the plot involves lengthy trips to prehistoric Garadene and side trips to parallel Earth histories, as if understandably bored with a plot used up long before the fifth episode, let alone the fifteenth, which regress back to the outright plagiarism of the Segal years.

The padding stretches out the plot painfully – for example, it is only in episode five, in their second appearance that any of the Hazzari attack in the first episode is expanded upon or explained, which then pads out the entire fifth episode of a characters justifying their action or inaction to each other. The episode starts with them fleeing the lab and then trying to get back in, meaning the plot effectively goes nowhere. Also, the DeNatale Doctor makes one final late entrance – it is ten minutes into the twenty minute first episode before he appears and nineteen minutes until he actually gets involved in the plot. It takes four episodes before the Doctor realizes Christine is missing. Similarly, two episodes pass before the characters realize what the audience already knows – Aron is a traitor – only for another two episodes to reveal Thatch was the traitor and everything that pointed to Aron was false, because he is a completely different traitor. Episode twelve is almost unbelievable: the Doctor and Christine loiter at a restaurant for fifteen minutes until another cliffhanger occurs, and the plot of the next episode involves them simply being arrested and commenting on shifts in time leading to a painfully abrupt cliffhanger with a terrible cop out resolution (it was all a dream!). The fourteenth a long argument between the Doctor and a Time Lord that boasts little to no new material at all.

There’s no reason for the Doctor and Christine to start the story watching a very long and boring play, other than to pad out the episode. There’s also a high level of coincidence, as the Doctor and company happen to arrive in the past totally at random... mere hours before lava wipes out the whole continent. The most bombastic and arrogant of the Doctors spends many scenes silent, refusing to give any opinions, advice or decisions, to the point you begin to wonder if he was edited into the story – which would progress just as well, or perhaps even better without out. In fact David Segal plays Aron so similarly to the Tenth Doctor, you begin to wonder if this is another Webs of Time crossover. There’s also the painfully sudden and unheralded introduction of the Telamites into the story, who are hard to mentally disentangle from the sewer monster Chronotrons, who are revealed as eating the people they kidnap before its made clear they kidnap anyone at all, prompting terrible descriptions of what they are doing because Telamites are not the most audio-friendly of villains and then replaced by the very similar Phadocs.

One of the few memorable characters is Schult (who seems to spend the story in her ship exchanging witticisms with her pilot in the handful of episodes she actually appears in) is a crude copy of Servalan from Blake’s 7, with her ruthless and twisted viewpoint even having the same “Hope is dangerous” philosophy, and sadly she comes across as more entertaining (and thus sympathetic) than the moronic, pacifistic and above all dull Garadinians. To the story’s credit, the Hazzari come across as cruel, mindless bullies – demanding anyone weaker than them willingly go great lengths to stay weaker and keep the Hazzari strong, and this deliberate lack of sophistication and empathy makes them more threatening. At the end of episode eight, however, Schult becomes a screaming ranter, determined to destroy the whole planet for a handful of people daring to stand up for herself. It would be scary if it wasn’t so melodramatic. The trouble is the Garadinians come across as so stultifyingly pathetic, it is hard to feel sorry for them (especially the cliffhanger to episode four where one makes a phone call to tell the scientists that this phone call has just given them away and they should all take this with melancholic resignation). People like this deserve to suffer, and Time’s Champions loses its major draw – sympathy for an oppressed civilization.

Worst of all, however, is the cliffhanger to part fourteen when the Doctor decides to wipe out the Time Lords and himself on the behalf of this never-before-seen civilization. Yet the trip to Ancient Gallifrey, another steal from the comic strips (specifically The Final Chapter, even down to the use of the name Year Zero, not to mention The 4-D War) is abandoned and is barely mentioned. Truly, the DeNatale era has tapped into the Colin Baker one – talking about interesting fanwank ideas and never showing them.

A waste of almost five hours of life.

Personal Appreciation: ½ *
A fat, arrogant, blowhard Doctor ends his short life with a story longer than The Daleks’ Master Plan ending with a Time Lord trial and is unceremoniously replaced before the beginning of the next story. Just another little bit of history repeating...

Character Stuff:

The Doctor’s met Queen Victoria in his current body and she admired his moustache (presumably before handing him over to the Torchwood Institute). The Doctor stole the Duke of Buckney’s jacket (so he’s changed his outfit since The Perfection Society) and intends to give it back now it’s got all stinky and stained after a trek in the sewer – *******. His shoes were also nicked from Napoleon. As ever, he cracks smug jokes rather than deal with say, the fact he’s been dumped in a prehistoric jungle with no way of getting back and has a near psychotic optimism that things will sort themselves out without his having to put much effort in. He considers again the possibility he is an arrogant, selfish, self-centred insensitive *******, though automatically assumes himself an improvement on previous incarnations. He mentions Susan, Vicki, Susie-Jo and Leela as companions who knew when to quit his lifestyle... (by falling in love incredibly abruptly?). He really enjoys being treated as a God, even if it offends his religious companion and he is monumentally irritated whenever she shows signs of independent thought, or lack of knowledge post 13th century Earth. In short, he’s just irritated. He’s even more callous than normal, only interested in the outcome of a fight to the death in case the victor might be useful. He is bragging how clever he was at school (ignoring the fact he is a university drop out that barely scraped by his exams, and contradicts The Space Museum where the Doctor admits he never really understood time mechanics). He refers to Chronotrons as “buggers”. He also is determined to send slave girl Tisha back to certain death so history is not unduly distorted. He thinks the ‘parting of the ways’ with Gallifrey in Apollyon was for good. His aunt has a recipe for rice pudding (perhaps explaining why he thinks it is more valuable than universal conquest?) He considers satisfying his hunger a better use of time than saving a defenseless planet from slaughter, and continually pretends he has no flaws whatsoever – like being hypocritical, cheap, moronic and dull. Worse, he surrenders to the Time Lords just because he’s a bit pooped. In short... why isn’t he dead yet?

Christine gets bored to sleep by a twelve-hour Garidinian musical. The Doctor has dragged her back and forth across Garidane cultural hotspots and refuses to let her talk to anyone and also never discusses his thoughts, then demands she calls him Thete (especially cruel considering her lisp). Clearly he hates her guts, forcing her to undergo an educational fortnight and then leading her into a killing zone, abandoning her in a dangerous dark jungle seemingly for safety. She has issues about being treated as a child (which seems to be the main reason the Doctor does so) and her teenage hormones are all over the place in this story, shouting abuse at the Doctor one second and mired in self pity another. She doesn’t even pretend to have faith in this Doctor, and who can blame her? She, once again, puts her life and others in mortal peril by her impulsive honesty and not knowing when to shut up. She spends the moments before her execution complaining she’s uncomfortable, and would rather let her companions be executed rather than pretend to be a God. Doing so drives her to suicide, but tragically, very tragically, she chickens out at the last moment. She has quite a backlog of four letter words reserved to describe the Doctor when he brags she is only sophisticated because of him being so brilliant. For someone utterly suicidal in episode three, she is determined to cling onto life at all costs four episodes later. She needs to see a defenseless girl getting slapped around for about a minute while whispering “stop” before she does anything, but she’s clever enough to play extra vulnerable to work on the Doctor’s guilt. The Time Lords wonder why the **** the Doctor would want to travel with her, and frankly, good point. She gets called Vicki, Nyssa, Leela, Sarah, Dara by the Doctor – yet she does not punch his lights out, so she’s got some self control.

Observations:

The first scene of a fifteen episode story has the characters whining how everyone’s wasting time, then Christine getting bored by a long complicated play. NOT a good sign there, especially as they have a machine capable of fast-forwarding history itself... Worse, in Part Fifteen Christine screams “I cannot take it any more!” Right there with you, baby.

Why can’t these people get some decent sound effects? SIDRAT humming, Scavanger twittering and Cheetah teleportation sounds just make me pine for proper stories. And the use of Babylon Five music, only what, six years after the show ended, makes me pine for a different series altogether. Typically, the completely different musical stylings of The Leisure Hive are introduced in part ten has a patent Everlasting Film bad move. And then stings from Robot and The Curse of Fenric in the last episode... KILL ME NOW!

Props to the squeaky alien smuggler for being more interesting than the episode around him. His return as a truly deranged sadist miner works as well.

The whole first episode is an excuse to dump the TARDIS crew in a jungle. Of course, they could have just gone there in the TARDIS and compressed an episode into five seconds but no, that would be just stupid.

Oh, ***, superstitious natives worshipping the Great Titans... GOD! NOT THIS! PLEASE! This is supposed to celebrate the very ethos of Doctor Who by recreating the cavemen bits from 100, 000 BC with no wit, style, elegance or imagination? And then the morons behind this mess have a go at the New Series for not fitting with them!

You are not thinking!” On top of that, Christine’s hysteria and petulance are actually sympathetic – the backward peasant actually seems to realize how dangerous the situation is. For once. However, after the sixteenth minute of it you just want someone to snap her neck.

Gosh a lot of these scenes end loudly and abruptly.

Against incredibly stiff competition, in only two episodes the Shaman becomes the most irritating character I have ever heard, rivaling Ja-Ja Binks simply by the continual use of the phrases “Great Titans”, “lying”, “liar”, “sweet aroma”, “leader”, “burn them”, “where is the meat?” and “servant” all pronounced as though Aris in Kinda is the hallmark of primitive caveman diction. In fact, the Shaman is the biggest and most stubborn moron he actually makes Christine sympathetic. He is, frankly, the anti-matter opposite of Sharaz Jek, he is the Ultimate Crap Villain.

Christine’s crisis of faith in episode three. Please. Stop. Shut up. Never speak again. PLEASE!!!

The Doctor’s got Leela on his mind this week, doesn’t he? First he keeps mentioning her name, then he describes Christine with the same string of adjectives in Underworld.

Four episodes in and it seems the entire plot is an excuse to explain the “not rewriting history” rule?

Are you REALLY that dense?!” Thatch demands of Christine. Join the club, buckeroo.

Oh no you won’t” everyone says at once in panto style. SHUT – UP!!!

Episode six, ten, fourteen and fifteen begin with the alternate version of the title sequence. They should have used it for the next Doctor instead of the rubbish mark one...

Is the Doctor referring to Ace as his friend who would enjoy seeing an explosion? Am I reading too much into this? Is it because this cryptic continuity reference is more interesting than the story itself? True props, however, must go for the Doctor’s “It just gets better and better!”, said with the psychotic ‘let’s go looking for trouble’ glee that just screams Doctor Who more than any technobabble or returning villains. Better late than never, I dare say, Jym.

The TARDIS telepathic circuits clearly aren’t able to convert Christine’s mongrel dialect into something everyone can understand. Maybe they can’t be *****?

Oh ***. THAT sound effect. You know the one I mean. The hysterical woman screaming.

Sometimes I think Thatcher’s right.” Is Adon really Ben Elton?

I swear, if ANYONE EVER says Christine is “full of fire” AGAIN I will take a shotgun to a local high school and prove a point.

Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if, after Schult did her long speech about how Garidane will be cruelly wiped out for being offensive, one of the doddery old Elders shot her dead? Wouldn’t it? I mean, it’s the kind of imaginative leap that gets forced out the door with a crucifix shoved in its face by this story.

Thanks heavens for small favours,” says in Gatlin episode nine, but in episode seven Thatch says “Thank heavens for small miracles.” WHY CAN’T THEY GET THE RIGHT WORDS?!? ******!

We will survive,” the Elders drone on. Oh ***... JUST DIE ALREADY!! How we suddenly fall in love with Schult as she shuts the fool up.

On the bright side, David Segal’s character being unmasked at the end of an episode doesn’t turn out to be the Master. Bright side? What am I saying? Even the Dirty Ho Ho Ho would be welcome in a coma convention like this!!

"Life the universe and everything else." SHUT UP! JUST SHUT UP!!

Heh. The Doctor gets knackered from exposure to the time vortex. That’s like the Doctor getting food poisoning before visiting Androzani, or getting his appendix out before San Francisco...

If the Doctor is so **** hungry, why doesn’t he eat the **** jelly babies he has?

Give it time.” Christine finally says something clever! Wow! Then she breaks out of a cell because the sets are so crap... weird...

A Spanish Time Lord. Well, if we accept Scottish, Liverpudlian, Mancurian and Cockney ones... and isn’t a real problem that the Time Lords seem to be the good guys compared to this pompous, self-opinionated git in the moustache who can’t get anything done? And the idea that the Time Lords simply looked at the Doctor’s history (off screen) to establish guilt or innocence is a brilliant twist. But that’s thirty seconds out of 291 minutes...

A lengthy explanation of “dematerialization” and “erasure”. Fanwank, pure and clean.

The last episode is a rip off BTR’s The Gallifreyan Recommencement where the Master travels to the past of Gallifrey and sabotages Omega’s ship, and tries to kill Rassilon and replace him to change all of Time Lord history – not a million miles from what the Doctor attempts here. Perhaps it’s best that the Doctor did not, like the Master, rape Rassilon’s wife and murder his entire family. Still, it’d be different.

How the **** did the Doctor get Andred’s uniform? And how the **** would it fit him?

So that’s The Rescue, Invasion of Time, The Keeper of Traken, and Target Zylon mentioned when instead we could be seeing the characters we are supposed to care about being rescued and starting their new lives? The Doctor just talks about it and sods off.

Preposterous Plot Points:

A volcano can turn water into acid?!?

The Doctor insists the villagers must be left to their fate so history can continue on course without them changing things. So, appearing out of thin air, causing a religious schism and leaving the high priest in charge of the whole tribe has no long term historical implications whatsoever?

Instead of using the time machine to escape/attack their enemies, they hurry through a sewer tunnel instead. Morons.

The sonic screwdriver can turn solid doors transparent? What the ****?!

Trakenites get punished by being turned to stone? Uh... no.

A Time Ring works as a replacement for TARDISes. So why would Aron have both? Why not say a TARDIS with remote control? And the Time Lords have rules about certain periods of history that must never be visited... yet there is no system to stop Time Lords who don’t obey the rule? Give me strength...

The Trial of the Doctor... consists of him and his prosecutor chatting in a dark room while a jury are silent in the background. For smeg’s sake...

Sorry, it’s taken twelve regenerations for the Doctor to realize the Time Lords are corrupt, self-interested *********? This has to be the biggest continuity blunder in existence!

I won’t even comment on how screwed up and moronic the Doctor’s plan is to wipe out Gallifreyan history. But if he never does carry it out, why does it cause “ripples”?

Why in the name of fried Kroll testicles does the Doctor choose the name Thete to hide himself from the Time Lords using the only other pseudonym they could possibly guess? WHAT IS HIS PROBLEM? I’ll tell you, screwed up regeneration – this Doctor is a failure in every sense. Bring on the next one, say I!

Notable Dialogue:

Gratuitous use of the title -
COMPUTER: Password?
DOCTOR: Time’s Champions.

ADON: We better not do anything suspicious.
CHRISTINE: Like what?
ADON: We’ll know when we do it.

SMUGGLER 1: We already have the money. Why sit out here, hiding behind every asteroid in the system until we rot?
SMUGGLER 2: Because they paid us for delivery and that’s what we’re going to give them. It’s a matter of honor.
SMUGGLER 1: You’re not exactly one to preach about honor, you know. Smuggling can still get you twenty years in a penal colony from what I hear.
SMUGGLER 2: Well, just consider this our good deed for the decade. Maybe when the Almighty reconciles our accounts, he’ll remember this and at least give us a small air conditioner for where we’re going.

DOCTOR: Now is not the time to panic.
THATCH: Of course not, we should have started a long time ago! I’ve got a lot of catching up to do!

OFFICIAL: We’ve had quite enough of you Scoff-Laws getting away with legal loopholes and bleeding-heart judges. Fortunately we solved that little problem!
DOCTOR: You shot all the lawyers and hung all the judges?
(It’s “hanged”! Honestly, this Doctor is so stupid... and he acts like such a pedant!)

Give. Me. Strength:
SHAMAN: BURN THEM WITH THE FLAME OF FIRE!!!

Christine shows herself beyond redemption.
DOCTOR: Sometimes you can be the most irresponsible, thick headed, reckless, most mature young woman I’ve ever come across!!
CHRISTINE: Then you are not angry with me?

A story made by Americans in 2004. No subtext at all, huh?
THATCH: We let them get away with this, time after time after time!
ARON: Here we go again.
THATCH: And you all act like you accept this, like it’s just a part of life!
CUSTODIAN: It is a part of life.
ARON: No one ever said we accepted it. There’s just nothing we can do about it.
THATCH: Nobody even tries! We shouldn’t run away, we should fight! Avenge those who died! Fight against those bloodsuckers who treat us like the refuse of the galaxy! This is our planet!
ARON: Thatch, you have to accept that the strong prey upon the weak. It isn’t pretty, it isn’t fair, but it’s the way it is.
THATCH: We’re only weak because we refuse to do anything about it. How many people lost families tonight? How many children are orphans? How many parents childless? How many are going to have to live with the bitter memory of having gone out to a play or to dinner thinking their children are safe at home, only to come home and find nothing left?

Why do I get the feeling more effort went into this sequence than the other fourteen episodes?
GUARD 1: So.. no papers?
GUARD 2: What do we do?
GUARD 1: Regulation 24739 paragraph H sub-paragraph 3 is very clear on all matters of citizens not having appropriate travel papers.
DOCTOR: A stern talking-to?
GUARD 2: Silence!
GUARD 1: Ah, and a further violation of article 16/89B.
GUARD 2: Paragraph 26?
GUARD 1: I was thinking more of paragraph 25.
GUARD 2: No, no, paragraph 26 section 12 would be much more appropriate.
GUARD 1: Subsection C?
GUARD 2: You read my mind. Violations of article 16/89B paragraph 89 section 12 subsection C are not tolerated. I could have you shot RIGHT HERE!
GUARD 1: We’re almost off-duty. You’re sure you want to bother with the paperwork?
GUARD 2: Hmmm. Not really.

THATCH: Oh don’t worry, there are a hundred other problems on the list that’ll make this one look like child’s play.

CHRISTINE: Does it hurt?
ARON: Only when I breathe. Or exist in any form.

Some people cannot take a hint from the universe:
ELDER: We will survive. We have done so in the past, we will do so again. The Council of Elders continue to work for Garidane. Our message of entreaty to other races for help continues to be broadcast, as well as our messages of peace to the Hazzari, and other races who continue their assault on our people. For generations these messages have been sent out... and for generations they have been ignored. But we will persevere and we will prevail. We must.

After a nuclear explosion –
CHRISTINE: What was that?
DOCTOR: The sound of irony.

ColinBaker did it first. Colin Baker did it better. And Colin Baker didn’t leave such whacking great holes in the argument that it could apply to Daleks, Cybermen or the Great Vampires -
DOCTOR: Evils? Evils?! Throughout my years I have fought these “evils” that you speak of in every corner of the galaxy. Tyranny has been my enemy and persecution has been my foe. But here, here I look upon the greatest evil this universe has ever produced – and you dare stand in judgement against another? A race whose only wish is to survive, as is their right! I say to you that the Garadanians WILL survive and if that means that I must stand against you, then so be it!

The Twelfth Doctor’s last words sum up his era:
DOCTOR: Well, Christine, what did you think of it? Christine? ... Christine!
(Christine snores)

Cliffhangers:

  1. The time portal suffers a power surge and gobbles up the Doctor, Christine and Thatch, sending them to an unknown point in space and time. Wow. Like THAT’s never happened before.
  2. Christine stupidly reveals that she, the Doctor and Thatch are not actually the godlike Titans to the homicidal Shaman, who immediately orders the trio to be burned alive. Christine screams a lot. You can’t take her anywhere, can you?
  3. Mount Kanda, a super volcano, begins to erupt and the Shaman decides to sacrifice Christine to propitiate the Titans. It’s a plan with no drawbacks, which is presumably why the Doctor and Thatch stand around as she is dragged onto the sacrificial stone and the Shaman performs a long winded chant.
  4. The Harrazi discover the time experiments and surround the lab. Trapped, with only a working time space portal at their disposal, how in the name of Slitheen buggery are the Doctor and his friends EVER going to escape?!
  5. The custodian is about to leave the hide out to collect some more spare parts when he hears a strange slurping sound in the shadows. Something rises out of the dark and attacks him. “You!” he shouts unhelpfully as it charges him. More like the start of a first episode than the end of a fifth, really.
  6. The Doctor and Thatch emerge from the sewer to discover the hideout has been utterly destroyed, taking their last and only hope with it. Whatever.
  7. Schult finally gets off her **** and does something. Which involves rescuing Aron and Christine, beating up the former and threatening the latter with “a most uncomfortable death” and then cackling insanely. A cliffhanger to make you lose the will to live, this one. There’s still eight episodes to go...
  8. It’s only taken eight episodes for Schult to discover the Garidanes are trying to develop time travel. Furious at this, she declares a jihad to wipe out the planet and everything on it in as unnecessarily destructive and vindictive manner as she can. Get a life, Schult.
  9. Gatlin is caught by surprise by someone he knows wielding a weapon, someone who then murders Gatlin without revealing their identity. Just like the cliffhanger to the fifth episode, really.
  10. That mysterious someone from the previous cliffhanger turns out to be Thatch. Yawn.
  11. Aron is revealed not to be the same traitor that was Thatch, but rather a ruthless Time Lord who sets his Chronoton creatures on the Doctor and Christine. Boo-frigging-hoo.
  12. Having spent an hour in a restaurant not ordering any food because they’re cheapskates, the Doctor and Christine are arrested by the restaurant manager and sent to the Tower of London for thirty years. Yes. Honestly, that’s what happened. If only the defectives behind this story got the same treatment for such relentless padding.
  13. The unnamed official shoots the Doctor dead with a machine gun after he refuses to reveal the secret of the time ring. Then he aims at Christine. If only the story ended here...
  14. The Doctor decides to travel back in time to the Harmony Project on Ancient Gallifrey, and prevent the Time Lords from coming into existence, so they won’t exist to threaten the Garadanians. Overreact much?!
  15. The Doctor takes Christine to see a nice, short play... that’s still so boring she falls asleep.

Miscellaneous:

Part one is, bizarrely subtitled, The Accident. No other episodes have any subtitles at all. According to the casing, the story is split into three sections (probably five episodes apiece): The Accident, The Saboteur, and The Time Lords.

What Could Have Been Done To Improve It:

- A reduction of episode count. In fact, this might have made a decent forty five minute episode if you put all the important scenes in. Then again it might not.

- Replace Garidane with Earth, so at least the audience might give a rat’s **** about what’s happening.

- Edit the last scene of The Chronic Rift so the very next story is Object Permanence.

The Party Line:

Anepic of this length is a risky proposition, but veteran writer Robin-Mary Manseth is more than up to the task of keeping the tale coherent and captivating, truly one story rather than a loosely-connected story arc . The plot itself is interesting, and the pacing is well done, varying from frantic to relaxed at just the right frequency to sustain such a lengthy tale. So much of this story is about good, evil, and the grey area in-between; by anchoring the “evil” side of the equation she provides a clear backdrop upon which the rest of the story, the rest of the characters, can be contrasted. The ideas of pacifism versus oppression; how to fight back while trying to live the Golden Rule; revenge versus justice; social Darwinism; principles versus pragmatism; all these ideas and more fill the 15 parts of this audio drama, making it very meaty listening.

The Awful Truth:

What idiot thought remaking The Dominators as a fifteen-part story was a good idea? There must be some kind of filter to stop crap ideas reaching the screen (or speaker), and it seems the whole thing has been influenced by Death Comes To Time, except without the excitement, adventure, or genuine epic qualities. Ten episodes could be compressed into one, cutting straight to the chase. The derivative Twelfth Doctor doesn’t even get an enjoyable story, in what turned out to be his last adventure – fifteen episodes of him refusing to do a **** thing. It’s thanks to these overlong, underplotted and unmemorable stories that mean that Jym Netale won’t be missed. In short, the worst DWAD I’ve ever heard.


Last updated: Wednesday, April 9, 2008