AUDIO REVIEW: DARK EYES 3 / AUTHOR: MATT FITTON / PUBLISHER: BIG FINISH / STARRING: PAUL MCGANN, NICOLA WALKER, RUTH BRADLEY, ALEX MACQUEEN, NATALIE BURT, DAVID SIBLEY, SEAN CARLSEN / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Dark Eyes 3 is, as the name suggests, the third four-disc boxset of audio adventures in the Big Finish Dark Eyes range. If you don’t know, these are award-winning adventures for the Eighth Doctor (McGann) and his companion Molly (Bradley), the Dark Eyes of the title.
Unlike the previous two boxsets, this is Dalek-free. The first was Daleks and the story of Molly from the battlefields of World War I, whose eyes were due to an infection of so-called retrogenitor particles as a result of Time Lord manipulation. The second set introduced Liv Chenka (Walker) to the mix, plus Big Finish’s own Master (Macqueen). Here the enemy was not only the Daleks but also a Big Finish creation, The Eminence (Sibley). In the background was the mysterious Ides Institute and Dr Sally Armstrong (Burt). This is also the first boxset entirely written by Matt Fitton.
Although interesting, all that’s needed to follow this boxset is explained within. The Master and Sally have taken Molly, and they are using her as part of his latest plan for galactic conquest. This involves manipulating The Eminence and a journey across history. Enter the Time Lords in the form of Narvin (Carlsen) from the Cosmic Intervention Agency (CIA) and the Big Finish Gallifrey range.
The storytelling is a mixture of linked action scenes segued by Narvin and the Doctor’s quest to both stop the Master and defeat the Eminence. The story is told over four discs and if it has any weaknesses it's that Molly is underused (due to Bradley’s work schedule), pushing the Dark Eyes element into the background in places. Liv Chenka makes up for this when used but there is also a lot of focus on the Master and his story and he doesn’t come face to face with the Doctor until someway through. Gripes aside, the story is told across history without being unnecessarily timey-wimey – perhaps an attempt to balance various narrative threads from different styles of story. Of course, the ending tidies up most of the threat while leaving enough threads not conclusively resolved, paving the way for the next release.
The sound is rich and widescreen (as ever) and in places shows up the theme music, depending on the quality of your hi-fi. There is the usual mix of eerie alien landscapes, alien creatures, battles and much else. Direction is by Ken Bentley, who brings his usual excellence to the production. All the lead performances are strong and none of them can be singled out – fans of any of the cast will not be disappointed.
Big Finish released Dark Eyes 3 on 17 November 2014; full details are available on their website for this and the other boxsets in the series. Another strong release, with enough material to have filled twice the number of episodes and maybe all will be clear with the release of Dark Eyes 4 in April 2015.
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