Doctor Who: The War Doctor Vol. 2: Infernal Devices continues to follow the exploits of the War Doctor during the legendary Time War.
Volume one was very much the vision of Big Finish supremo Nicholas Briggs, but this time each of the three stories has its own writer, which does give this second volume a more episodic feel and that's not a criticism by any means. It was Nick Brigg's intention that these stories could be listened to out of sequence, and to a point that has been achieved, although you'll get more of the epic scale of the war from listening to the episodes in order.
Legion of the Lost by John Dorney opens volume two and it's a particularly horrifying tale of just how far the Gallifreyans are willing to go to end their conflict with the Daleks once and for all. It begs the question of ‘should victory be sought at any cost’?
A Thing of Guile by Phil Mulryne follows Legion of the Lost, in which The Doctor is branded a war criminal and is coerced into accompanying Cardinal Ollistra (Jacqueline Pearce) on what seems to be a suicide mission behind enemy lines.
Matt Fitton's The Neverwhen concludes this boxset and what a chilling conclusion it makes, where both warring sides are forever locked in battle. The dead are revived in order to fight and die again, and again, and again...
John Hurt effortlessly imbues the War Doctor with a sense that this is a good man having to put aside his principles and beliefs, as he travels further and further along the path that will eventually have him committing double genocide in order to end the Time War. Only an actor of Hurt's calibre can allow the listener to empathise with such an embittered and self-doubting Doctor. As each side commits ever-increasing acts of atrocities, despair and darkness consume the Doctor more until he is forced to do what he feels is necessary.
David Warner offers another magnificent performance in this box sets first story, as the mad technomancer Shadovar. It's reminiscent of his role as Evil, in Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits and wholly suitable for his performance here.
Jacqueline Pearce reprises her role as the duplicitous Cardinal Ollistra and she makes the perfect antagonist to Hurt's War Doctor. With her silky tone it's difficult to decide whether to love her or hate her. She's a despicable character in a deliciously slinky way.
And love it or hate it Howard Carter's War Doctor theme can be heard again. If you haven't heard it yet, imagine Rammstein composing a version of the theme. Lots of ringing anvils that creates a suitably militaristic tone.
Big Finish productions are always a sonic feast for the ears and this is no exception. The stories are compelling and the soundscape is astonishing, so close your eyes and visualise the action in your mind.
DOCTOR WHO: THE WAR DOCTOR VOL. 2: INFERNAL DEVICES / DIRECTOR: NICHOLAS BRIGGS / AUTHORS: JOHN DORNEY, PHIL MULRYNE, MATT FITTON / STARRING: JOHN HURT, JACQUELINE PEARCE, DAVID WARNER, JAMIE NEWALL / PUBLISHER: BIG FINISH / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW