Colin Baker’s aberrant iteration of the War Doctor continues his battles in Doctor Who Unbound series.
In the first Doctor of War boxset, the Fourth Doctor went through with the fateful decision to touch a certain pair of wires together in a Skaro bunker. From that point, his personal chronology spun out in a different direction from the story we are used to; he became The Warrior, fighting for his people in a universe mired in an endless temporal conflict.
The first trio of stories revisited elements from a number Doctor Who classics, including ‘The Android Invasion’ and ‘The Invasion of Time’. This second set begins with a similar approach…
Who Am I?
Nigel Fairs story remixes Leela’s debut story ‘The Face of Evil’ with a devastating twist; meeting a Time Lord in the forest, she’s offered acid drops rather than jelly babies. Encountering the Master launches Leela’s life on a vastly different trajectory.
Many of the basics remain the same, the Sevateem and the Tesh, an insane computer named Xoanon. However, the computer’s multiple personalities are not an accident; one of Xoanon’s three aspects is the Warrior and another is the Master.
The story is refashioned as a romance between Gentek (Jason Forbes) and Leela, with the Master up to something sinister in the background. His plan is both audacious and incredibly cruel plan, redolent of the Moffat era, and utterly heartbreakingly for Leela.
With the Warrior’s contributions to the story minimal, Louise Jameson shines as Leela. Meanwhile Geoffrey Beavers continues to be terrific as his devious Master, served fresh rather than crispy.
Lizzie Hopley’s story offers a complex premise, on a planet where time is a commodity. With the Warrior and the Master arriving together, looking for a temporal weapon, it offers us an interesting combination of two villains, or at least anti-heroes.
While the Warrior remains within the walled citadel, where time passes at a different rate, the Master finds himself of the outside, fermenting rebellion.
This is a story which demands your attention with altering timelines and jumps of perspective. Perhaps it needed more time than the single hour to fully explore, especially as it seemingly wraps up the Master’s contribution to the storyline.
Oh, and planet the in question is Marinus, a call back to the First Doctor era. To be honest, we’re not entirely sure why though because, save for a brief mention of the Conscience, it felt like the tale could have occurred anywhere.
The Key to the Key to Time
To conclude the saga, Tim Foley offers an at speed rendition of the quest for the Key to Time. Taking place over a whole season in the Tom Baker era, he makes a few changes to both up the pace and the ante.
With the Warrior recruited by one Guardian (Anna Savva) — White, Black, who knows? — his task is to assemble the key. Naturally, he gains a companion to assist with the task: Davros.
What follows is an epic endeavour as the pair learn of each other and also assemble the key. However, they’re pursued by the Time Lord president (Justin Salinger) who has other ideas.
Bold and a bit meta (what is the audio equivalent of the fourth wall?), this multi-dimensional romp provides a satisfying end to this aberrant iteration of our favourite Time Lord. It dares to imagine the Time War on an even greater scale that we have seen or heard before. It also give us another take on Davros (Terry Molloy), as the story considers his role in the conflict and there are some superb interactions between the Warrior and the Dalek creator.
While we had assumed these stories would all link together somehow, Doctor of War – Destiny turns out to be more of an anthology; it offers separate slices from this alternate version of the Time War.
Colin Baker provides a battle-weary alternate take on the Doctor; his Warrior believes the ends justify the horrific means and will stop at nothing to end the war. Throughout the set, director Barnaby Kay keeps the stories on track, even when at their most temporally complicated.
Overall, this has been an engaging trip down into another universe of the Time War. For us, it has been at its strongest when sticking close to but twisting familiar stories and ideas. Interestingly, there’s a post-credits scene which suggests the door to this particular Unbound universe might not be fully bolted shut.
Collected Unbound Doctors
This is not Big Finish’s first foray into alternate Doctors, as back in their early days they released eight tales with Geoffrey Bayldon, Ed Bishop, David Collings, Derek Jacobi, Arabella Weir and David Warner playing the lead roles. The latter’s incarnation of the Doctor went on to become the star of five boxsets alongside Who companion Bernice Summerfield.