AUDIO REVIEW: The Dying Light

The Dying Light
Written by Nick Wallace

Starring Wendy Padbury and Frazer Hines

Out Now

Review by Nick Fraser

The Doctor, Zoe and Jamie are drawn off course, the TARDIS landing in a city carved into a mountain, floating on a silicon sea around a dying world. They soon discover the catalyst for their unexpected landing: an elaborate and long-planned trap, painstakingly woven together by Quadrigger Stoyn.

In this, the second part in Big Finish’s trilogy featuring Stoyn, centuries have passed since his last encounter when The First Doctor left him all but stranded on the Moon. It’s abundantly clear that in all that time he’s accumulated a mighty grudge against the Time Lord since then.

Terry Molloy (pictured right) continues to provide a dependably strong performance as Stoyn, conveying both his sense of hatred for The Doctor and his anguish at having to endure the daily chaos of a life away from the certainties of Gallifreyan order. Frazer Hines and Wendy Padbury easily re-inhabit the familiar roles of the Second Doctor’s travelling team, though it’s undoubtedly Hines who steals the show. He performs narration duties on this Companion Chronicle most impressively, capturing the essence and cadences of Patrick Troughton's performance. It required only a very short stretch of this listener’s imagination to imagine Troughton himself participating in the Big Finish recording studio.

As the story unfolds, it soon transpires that the floating mountain upon which the TARDIS has landed is, in fact, a bloody big boat regularly assailed by storms of both meteorological and extra-terrestrial origin, the latter bringing new arrivals to a Sanctuary presided over by its Abbot (Stoyn). The gradual peeling away of the layers of mystery surrounding the nature of Stoyn’s plans, his floating Sanctuary and the planet itself provide plenty to hold the listener’s interest.

However there are thought-provoking revelations from both Stoyn and The Doctor as to their respective departures from Gallifrey. The former’s bitter recriminations at what he sees as The Doctor’s blasphemy stands in stark contrast to the Doctor’s rather more prosaic description of Quadrigger Stoyn as a self-appointed policeman with no authority and generally a bit of a nuisance.

No self-respecting old-school Doctor Who adventure would be quite complete without monsters, and this one is no exception. That said, the monsters in question – creatures composed of living rock – turn out to be a part of the larger eco-system of the sentient world, described by The Doctor as promethean in nature.

During his travels The Doctor has often unwittingly landed himself and his companions deep in trouble as a result of his actions (witness his ongoing difficulties with Skaro’s most wanted). This Big Finish trilogy certainly builds upon that notion, with a vengeful Stoyn playing the very long game, doggedly plotting The Doctor’s course through space and time, using the resources of the sentient planet to create a power structure and beacon, all the while awaiting the TARDIS’s arrival at a pre-determined point. It is of course entirely typical of The Doctor’s piloting of his craft that when he, Jamie and Zoe first arrive at Stoyn’s sanctuary, they unwittingly miss that designated landing point.

There’s a redemption of sorts for Stoyn however as, whether entirely knowingly or not, his centuries in the role of the mysterious Abbot have provided a benevolent centrepoint for the Sanctuary and its people, even if it’s down to his actions that many of them have arrived there in the first place.

Overall, it’s an enjoyable tale, with no out-and-out battle between good and evil, but instead an intriguing and continuing meditation on The Doctor’s departure from his homeworld and its consequences. For Stoyn it’s nothing less than a fall from heaven: The Doctor continues to view his former home far less favourably and there’s some foreshadowing of things to come for this particular TARDIS trio.

Stoyn’s efforts in spite of The Doctor eventually see him cast off to goodness-knows-where, with presumably all to be revealed in the third and final part of the trilogy.

Thanks to Big Finish 

Review by Nick Fraser

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