‘Doctor Who’: ‘Shadow of Death’ (‘Destiny of the Doctor’ 2) audiobook review

‘Shadow of Death’ is the second Doctor entry in this year-long ‘Destiny of the Doctor’ celebratory series, which takes on the format of Big Finish’s ‘Companion Chronicle’ dramatic readings.

Making an emergency landing in the year 2724, the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe find themselves in a highly era appropriate base-under-siege. The base in question belongs to scientific survey mission on a planet that circles a pulsar, a compacted star at the end of its natural life that emanates forces strong enough to warp time itself.

On arrival, the Doctor’s natural curiosity leads them into danger. After encountering earthquakes and the hostile remnants of the base crew, the time travellers soon become aware of a greater danger; there is a creeping, seemingly intelligent shadow picking the base crew off one by one. They discover the crew are present to research the remains of a civilisation that existed there but have disappeared without a trace.

While the story makes good use of Zoe’s superior computer skills and the Doctor’s ingenuity, poor Jamie is the fish out of water. He struggles with dates and scientific concepts on our behalf and when separated from his friends, he first sees the mysterious shadow breach a section of the station, aging to death the unfortunate crewmember strays within its footprint.

Despite being a two-voice drama, Frazer Hines not only performs both narration and the voice of Jamie, but also contributes an authentic sounding Troughton impersonation too. In addition, he makes a good shot at mimicking Wendy Padbury’s Zoe and there is some entertaining interaction between the TARDIS three. The additional voice is that of Evie Dawnay who plays the pragmatic scientist Dr Sophie Topolovic with some gusto.

A thumping great hint for the series ongoing arc comes via a message from the future. Delivered to the Doctor in extraordinary fashion, it causes him to double back for the base research and this comes at a quite a cost. This cleverly fashioned encounter is one that sets our fannish pulse racing and makes us deeply regret that Patrick Troughton is not around to enviously eye the current Doctor’s bowtie in the upcoming anniversary celebrations.

Mindful of continuity lessons of the past, writer Simon Guerrier is spot on with his chronology, pitching the Doctor simply as something other and not revealing his Time Lord status to Jamie and Zoe. He does however allow a couple of cryptic comments about the Doctor’s different relationship to time and even allows it to be a plot point crucial in the story’s resolution.

With some superb sound design and a great recreation of the classic Troughton era team, ‘Shadow of Death’ is a great slice of 60’s-style Doctor Who.

Released on Thursday 7 February 2013 by AudioGO.

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