How’s this for The Last Song? The power of music is something that Doctor Who in a sense keeps returning to- witness the grand orchestral scope of Murray Gold's post-2005 vision for its soundtrack. In a way, The Last Song builds on that- a sentient music living aboard a vast gas giant its centrepiece.
The idea of such a powerful force serving as the antagonist is not new, coincidentally enough having been slated to appear alongside the Tenth Doctor in an early treatment of what would become The Idiot's Lantern before the idea of an alien intelligence inhabiting a popular song during the first flowerings of rock & roll in the England of the Fifties was scrapped- a search for Sonic Doom will reveal Mark Gatiss's initial commission for Series Two from Russell T Davies, following the success of The Unquiet Dead....
Incidentally the song slated as the host for the proto-Wire intelligence was The Chordettes' Mr. Sandman, reused to eerie effect two regenerations later for the Doctor in Sleep No More! In that context it took on a life of its own, which in wider sense music itself does here. Of course even pre-Gold it took on a significance all its own, through the twiddlings of the Radiophonic Workshop, the inhabitants of Room Thirteen at the BBC's Television Centre tasked with developing ever new & innovative means to provide the Time Lord with constantly shifting soundscapes to explore.
And now it has artistic representation. Just one of the many reasons The Endless Song is worthy of praise. Of course, the idea of music as a living thing, permeating every strand of whichever universe it inhabits, is almost as old as the hills- see the harmony of the spheres, or musica universalis, for a little historical background. But here we see Doctor Who doing what Doctor Who has always done best in applying a little abstract logic to the everyday or familiar.
A sort of elective synaesthesia, if you will. And no less groovy for that (man) in much the same way Patrick Troughton's rapidly expanding head proved ideal psychedelic accompaniment to Delia Derbyshire's electronic handiwork, the little chap rocking a Beatle cut at just the right time with the Fab Four in the ascendancy as well as making the recorder his weapon of choice.
The dark side of the spoons then came with the Seventh Doctor a few bodies down the line.... then cometh New Who, cometh pop. Twenty years away when seen through the prism of war in The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances, listeners having to content themselves with some Glenn Miller & dancing as a metaphor for something rather more adult, a thread continued throughout The Girl In The Fireplace.
Here, though, we can simply turn on, tune in & drop out into another world entirely with the freedom to switch on our own inner Workshop & improvise. For sheer scope of imagination & grasp of philosophy, The Endless Song deserves to run & run...
DOCTOR WHO: THE TENTH DOCTOR VOLUME 4 - THE ENDLESS SONG / AUTHOR: NICK ABADZIS / ARTISTS: ELEONORA CARLINI, ELENA CASAGRANDE, CLAUDIA IANNICIELLO, ARIANNA FLOREAN / PUBLISHER: TITAN COMICS / RELEASE DATE: 24TH MAY