Review: The Light at the End (Doctor Who) / Author: Nicholas Briggs / Publisher: Big Finish / Starring: Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, Louise Jameson, Sarah Sutton, Nicola Bryant, Sophie Aldred, India Fisher, Geoffrey Beevers / Release Date: Out Now
With brief website performance problems, Big Finish have released their 50th anniversary Doctor Who story The Light at the End. Available in three forms (Standard, Collector's and Limited Edition Vinyl, no less,) this is a big, multi-Doctor story with many companions, the Master and other surprises.
The story centres (surprise!) on November 23rd 1963, which gives a nice resonance for fans. In the story this is the day when the hitherto unknown Bob Dovie’s life is ripped apart. Bob is a family man living in Sutton, Hampshire, who falls foul of the Master’s plot to trap the Doctor(s) in a collapsing pocket of space-time and one by one rip his companions away from him, then interfere with his whole timeline. No trips to Totter’s Lane at all!
The story gives one companion for each actor who is still with us: Tom Baker gets Leela (Jameson), Peter Davison – Nyssa (Sutton), Colin Baker – Peri (Bryant), Sylvester McCoy – Ace (Aldred) and Paul McGann gets Charlie Pollard (Fisher), who is a Big Finish creation. We get a lot more and too many to list but suffice it to say all past Doctors and many companions get their moments, as does the Master. For good measure there are other Time Lords and some super-weapons. The various Doctors all contribute something legitimate to resolving the situation and the plot avoids the simplicity of The Five Doctors.
The story does give us some interesting pairings but avoids any chaotic scenes with too many Doctors at the same time. There are lots of tropes and nods to the show’s history including Nitro 9, undoing of history and much unflattering description of one Doctor by another. There is even a reference to the Big Finish 40th anniversary story Zagreus. All good fun! The ending works well and is a new twist on the Doctors all meeting up then saying farewell – you have to listen to understand!
Not only do we have a solid story with plenty of nostalgia and little, if any, schmaltz but also a punchy soundtrack (at least inspired by Murray Gold). And as already mentioned, there are three versions, the Vinyl Version (£99.99), the well-priced Standard Edition which gives the 2-CD story at £14.99 (£12.99 download only), or the Collector’s Limited Edition which gives the story, a behind the scenes CD, a Big Finish documentary CD and a Companion Chronicles story The Revenants which was previously given away with Doctor Who Magazine; if that wasn’t enough there is also a Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound mix available (download only) and a collector's box with other bits and pieces all for £40 (or £25 download only). Not bad for 5 CDs' worth of entertainment.
As a total package marking the anniversary, this is first class and sets the bar high for the TV show’s own celebrations.