Doctor Who: The Webs of Time


William Merlock

December 2002

At their best, Dr. Who anniversary specials are fun, backwards-looking romps with continuity references galore and the return of old friends and old foes alike. The Webs of Time is no stranger to these concepts, being filled with references to past adventures, both from the original BBC televised Dr. Who and from many Doctor Who Audio Dramas. Such references take up a large part of the (approximately) hour run-time, leaving just enough room to throw in a bit of a plot, a dab of witty banter, and a pinch of twist ending. In fact, the general lightness of this audio works as a nice counterpoint to what has been a string of pretty intense, epic adventures for the Doctor. Humour was emphasized over action or character development; there were a couple of genuine laugh-out-loud moments, including one not-so-subtle comment on the later McCoy episodes which was particularly hilarious, perfectly written and delivered. The Webs of Time also maintains the high level of technical quality that Everlasting Films has lately been consistently delivering.

After a run of adventures that have been heavy and thought-provoking, The Webs of Time is a nice, light dessert, something to be enjoyed for what it is, a celebration of the past, the present, and the future of The Doctor Who Audio Dramas.


Robert Dunlop

December 2002

“There is a corruption in your time stream, Doctor. Something has happened which is causing your time line to degrade. If we can not find the source and stop it, your lives will be erased.”

Webs of Time is The Doctor Who Audio Dramas' 20th anniversary special release. It is an hour-long, two-part story which features both David Segal and Jym DeNatale as the Doctor, along with a host of companions. As with anniversary specials The Five Doctors and The Three Doctors, Webs takes place on Gallifrey, where the Timelords Dyson and Jarik (played by regulars Chip Jamison and Thomas Himinez) discover an inaccuracy in the Doctor’s timestream – a distortion which requires immediate removal, otherwise there will be grave consequences to the timeline. The Timelords summon the Segal Doctor to Gallifrey for assistance. It is not known what is the cause of the distortion and they must work together to fix time before it is too late…

Clips from the Doctor Who TV series. Clips from unreleased Everlasting Films releases. Special appearances from monsters and companions. Laugh out loud sequences. A very well written script. Full stereo presentation. Very well acted by all the cast including Jym DeNatale, David Segal and Thomas Himinez. Chip Jamison is particularly good in his role as the Timelord Dyson. (There, that rundown has saved a bit of time!) My only problem is that you had to have a knowledge of the series to fully understand the story. For example, to make sense of the first episode cliffhanger you'd have to have heard Price of Paradise. A vast majority of the clips come from unreleased stories and nobody but perhaps those from the production team would have a clue to their relevance and any idea where they came from. This aspect of the play is the most confusing. Less confusing is the use of clips from the Doctor Who TV series. (Maybe a guide to all the clips is in order – e.g. where each clip came from, what the context is?) On a similar line, many of the companions do not feature in released stories and I have no idea who half of them are! It doesn’t help that they all sound the same, or very similar to each other. Confusing, but this does not spoil your enjoyment of the story.

And now for the bonus "Timetalk: Roundtable Discussion", accessible on PC computer as a Real Audio file. Although I am credited as "writer", this is a bit of an overstatement – and was a bit of a surprise to hear! In fact it’s quite an exaggeration: the interview was my idea, but the words were all the cast & crews and very few of the questions were mine. (One, in fact.) I wouldn’t review something which had my involvement, which is why I say that now. I didn’t really do anything. Nevertheless, the interview is a very entertaining way to spend almost one and a half hours, with some great gossip, amusing anecdotes and many laugh-out-loud with the cast moments. This is certainly not a formal discussion. The participants appear to be enjoying themselves (even if the thing was recorded twice as is explained at the beginning!) and it's all great fun, there are very few moments of silence. David Segal was unable to take part but recorded an introduction and ending speech. Additionally, this is Chip Jamison's first DW interview. “Timetalk” could be called an 'unedited' look at the series past, present and future… and perhaps there should be a warning for strong language and some adult content?! As the programme progresses, Thomas’ parental counter rating goes up from a PG, to a PG-13, to an R, which is quite surprising considering Everlasting Film’s strict guidelines on swearing and profanity (which is not the only reason for the soaring certificate…) I’d be interested to hear the Producer’s reasons for releasing this discussion unedited, and not bleeping out the naughty words. I’m not suggesting for you to make any edits now – I think most people will be fine with it – if they know in advance what is to come!

The behind the scenes Soulstealers footage is an extension of that from the Making of an Audio Series documentary and is interesting listening. It shows all the work that goes into producing one scene from a recent story. A clip of the scene from the finished story would have been nice to end this sequence, but alas there is none. In any case, this is an extra special release, which will, I think be enjoyed both by those who have a familiarity with Everlasting Film's output, and those that are new to their work. Congratulations on your 20th.


Ben Chatham

April 2008

Plot:

The Doctor’s history starts to unravel, corrupting the records in the Matrix. Keeper Dyson and Cardinal Jarik summon the Tenth and Twelfth Doctor from their respective histories to help set things right before he vanishes entirely. The Tenth Doctor enters the Matrix and starts interfering with his timeline to stop it distorting and the Twelfth looks for the cause of the unraveling. It turns out that Countdown to Armageddon was SUCH a rip off of Logopolis that time itself is collapsing. No serious, I’m not ********, that is the actual plot. Cardinal Jarik gets sick of the clipshow and decides to kill the Tenth Doctor in the Matrix, but their timelines get so tangled around it even more chaos occurs and totally by accident saves the Doctor’s history for good when he is cancelled out himself.

Story:

A twentieth anniversary story, The Webs of Time is split into three: a third is clips from the original TV series (and Paul McGann telemovie), another third is clips from audio stories, and the remaining third an unimaginative multi-Doctor story. Perhaps significantly, they are the two Doctors who were played by DWAD regulars who have appeared in pretty much every story, as the other two candidates are ignored, getting even sidelined in flashbacks to their own stories.

The two Doctors do not have any memorable fireworks, and act like strangers at a party that happen to have the same views – their return to Gallifrey and the different situations they were snatched from are similarly bland. The reuse of dialogue between Doctors suggests a lack of imagination rather than emphasis that the two of them are the same man.

All in all, this feels like a story of contractual obligation rather than a genuine desire to celebrate the audios – there are no returning monsters or events unique to the audio range, and the returning companions (if you can call getting current cast members to play characters they used to on a regular basis ‘returning’) do little except look confused. The emphasis on how derivative David Segal’s Doctor was (and especially his last story) feels a cheap way of acknowledging how terrible Countdown to Armageddon was. Perhaps instead of a get together story, this should have been used to give the Segal Doctor a proper, and unique sendoff.

If this story had potential, it has definitely been wasted.

Personal Appreciation: **
What do you expect from a clipshow?

Character Stuff:

The Doctor’s official history (code A1232340) has been ‘edited’ by the High Council, making him less Robin Hood, more Osama Bin Laden – which is why everyone hates his guts on Gallifrey despite him saving each and every one of their sorry ***** more times than it would be fashionable to remember. He insults the President in an identical manner twice over, and isn’t that bothered to be back on Gallifrey against his will. The Tenth Doctor decides to give a white lie about Jarik so he will be remembered a hero, and later has his memory of events erased. The Twelfth Doctor doesn’t seem to get his memory wiped, but perhaps that’s because he’s on Gallifrey in his ‘present’ and thus hasn’t learned his destiny. There’s no sign of Christine, but then, that adventure shouldn’t have her anyway. Technically, this means the Twelfth Doctor has met the Cybermen.

It’s official... for this story at least... that the DWADs begin some time after the TV Movie and Vincent Savage is the Ninth Doctor, David Segal the tenth, etc. {Actually the later policy claims that the slightly ambiguous wording means only that Savage is A Doctor after Paul McGann, not the direct successor, meaning Savage could be the Eleventh Doctor after David Tennant, for example. But then the Doctor would have definitely exceeded the thirteen body limit, which doesn’t seem to have occurred to anyone.)

Either way, this does mean that at some point after the TV Movie, therefore, the Master was spat out of the Eye of Harmony a burned wreck (again), stole a Trakenite body that looks and acts just like Tremas (difficult to do, even if Traken was resurrected), then got the Cheetah virus, again. You know, the more I think about it, the less likely it becomes. I still say Vincent Savage is an Unbound Third Doctor and everything else is just coincidence.

Observations:

Pity Jeff Coburn couldn’t be in it – he was always up for a multi-Doctor story. But no. We get Chip Jamison instead... I don’t need to say anything else, though, do I?

They thought we wouldn’t notice Tom Baker’s face in the opening titles? Is there such a thing as manic optimism? Nice font for the credits, though.

Clips from Devinaura IV, Terror of the Vervoids, The Unearthly Child, The Three Doctors, Inferno, Robot, Castrovalva, The Twin Dilemma, The Curse of Fenric, the TV Movie, Portal, The Death Machines (I think), Apollyon, The Perfection Society, Coronation, The Green Death, The Robots of Death, Conquest of Time, a Vincent Savage story, The Unearthly Child (pilot version), The Price of Paradise, Coronation, Destiny of the Daleks, Time and the Rani, another Vincent Savage story, The Curse of the Scarab, a montage comprising Logopolis and Countdown to Armageddon, a Vincent Savage Master story, Terror on Terra, a montage from Ghost Light, The War Games, The Trial of a Time Lord, The Last Colony, The Caves of Androzani, a David Segal story, and finally a montage of TV Doctors screaming (too loud to be more precise, I’m fairly certain it’s The Rescue, The Seeds of Death, The Sea Devils, Pyramids of Mars, the TV Movie, The Trial of a Time Lord).

You know, comparing the honestly poorer audio dramas to the real show... it’s not smart. Going straight from Anthony Ainley as the Master to David Segal going ho-ho-ho... what are you thinking? What the **** are you thinking?!

Nice to know that even the Segal Doctor thinks his successor but one is a fat, arrogant *******...

You can tell author’s agendas to play when Colin Baker is booed off the screen, the NAs snubbed, Season Seventeen is rubbished and the cast take potshots at the plotting of Ghost Light.

So... if a Time Lord physically enters the Matrix, they have the ability to alter their own history and destiny line with no returns. And the Master never thought about using it?

Typical, the Twelfth Doctor can’t even beat a bunch of Cybermen on his own – he needs the Time Lords to time scoop him out and replace him next to the plot device to save the day. What a loser.

Dara gets a few scenes of new material. And she’s the same irritating twit we remember.

It seems “chameleon” is a word all Time Lords find hard to pronounce. And “Rani” for some reason.

Preposterous Plot Points:

It seems a bit unlikely two relatively unimportant Time Lords have access to the Time Scoop. The thing that drains all the power from the Eye of Harmony and only works as putting people into the Death Zone. Still, when have established facts ever mattered?

Why judge Doctors Four, Five, Six, Eight, Eleven and Twelve on scenes just after they’ve regenerated instead of during their life spans when they’re vaguely stabilized?

How come the Twelfth Doctor is having an adventure identical to Space Trap, a Tenth Doctor story? Another remake? No wonder his timestream is coming apart at the edges.

So, just to clarify: the reason the Tenth Doctor is a carbon copy of the Fourth (acting, dressing and experiencing the same) is because Jarik distorted the tenth’s timeline in the first place? So, that means Jarik caused the tautology that caused the trouble in the first place! Well, I guess that makes sense in a paradoxical time line sort of way. It’s a great deal of trouble to go to justify the Segal Doctor... but then, it would have to be.

About that title... there is only one Web of Time. So why the plural? Are they acknowledging that the DWADs have their own (much inferior and incredibly more arrogant) web, separate to the rest of continuity? Or is it just a stupid title?

Notable Dialogue:

Most of it is from other stories, so it doesn’t really count.

What does management think of proper Doctor Who? Let’s see if their opinions in any way form a subtext to the script:

On the Second Doctor:
JARIK: No. His genius is offset by his buffoonery.

DS DOCTOR: At least you didn’t bring that silly one in the check trousers.

On the Sixth Doctor:
JARIK & DYSON: NO!

On the Seventh Doctor:
DYSON: I would recommend against this one. He always seems to have an agenda of his own.

On the Eleventh Doctor:
JDN DOCTOR: It shows I’ve definitely improved with age. Thank goodness.

On Destiny of the Daleks:
JDN DOCTOR: Not exactly one of my finer moments.

On a clipshow of Ghost Light:

DYSON: This section seems to be suffering from particularly heavy distortion!
JDN DOCTOR: Er, actually, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
DYSON: REALLY?! Are you sure? But it’s so confusing, I thought it HAD to be a warp in the stream!
JDN DOCTOR: Don’t worry. Even I’m not certain what happened here.

Apparently, this in-joke is incredibly amusing:
JDN DOCTOR: Stay away from suspension bridges.

Doctor? Shut the **** up! **** it, I want the Cybermen to win!
JDN DOCTOR: What? No long-drawn-out death dangling me over a pit of crocodiles so I can escape at the last minute? I thought that was part of the rule book!

Cliffhangers:

  1. The events of The Price of Paradise corrupt, so the Eleventh Doctor isn’t there to rescue Dara and her mates from the Processor, and thus they are doomed. The Tenth Doctor can only watch, helpless, until those nifty end credits roll.
  2. Dyson and Marcus watch the Twelfth Doctor get out of his fix with the Cybermen, expecting the Doctor’s guile that has kept him going for so many years will continue to do so for many more to come. Wow, less than a year later, RTD was the cat nun that got the cream. Spooky.

Miscellaneous:

The title sequence is that ‘early Bernard Lodge mismash’ with the two Doctors’ faces, suggesting this might be a Tenth Doctor story guest starring the Twelfth rather than the other way round. But that’s just patently crap, isn’t it?

What Could Have Been Done To Improve It:

- Give David Segal an original Doctor character, and some original stories, all those years ago.

- Lose the editorial bias. Glass houses and stones, you ********.

The Party Line:

At their best, Dr. Who anniversary specials are fun, backwards-looking romps with continuity references galore and the return of old friends and old foes alike. The Webs of Time is no stranger to these concepts, being filled with references to past adventures, both from the original BBC televised Dr. Who and from many Doctor Who Audio Dramas. Such references take up a large part of the (approximately) hour run-time, leaving just enough room to throw in a bit of a plot, a dab of witty banter, and a pinch of twist ending. In fact, the general lightness of this audio works as a nice counterpoint to what has been a string of pretty intense, epic adventures for the Doctor. Humour was emphasized over action or character development; there were a couple of genuine laugh-out-loud moments, including one not-so-subtle comment on the later McCoy episodes which was particularly hilarious, perfectly written and delivered. The Webs of Time also maintains the high level of technical quality that Everlasting Films has lately been consistently delivering.After a run of adventures that have been heavy and thought-provoking, The Webs of Time is a nice, light dessert, something to be enjoyed for what it is, a celebration of the past, the present, and the future of The Doctor Who Audio Dramas.

The Awful Truth:

Consideringit’s a multi-Doctor story where the other Doctor doesn’t arrive until the second and final episode, there is not much to be said or done. It’s more interesting to listen to the clips – from the TV series, to enjoy; from the audios, to try and understand what’s being said through the static. The Doctors are not interested in their sudden, abrupt demise and don’t engage with themselves or the very small guest cast. In fact, I was hoping the finale would cancel out the DWADs in order to let the new TV series become canon... mainly because it was be a plot twist that HADN’T been telegraphed to a painful degree. The Webs of Time reminds me about everything I detest of the DWADS - their smugness, arrogance, and overall lack of ability coupled by a medieval belief they're better than anyone else.


Last updated: Wednesday, April 9, 2008