The Shattered Hourglass is the latest Doctor Who Short Trip and the last in the regular monthly schedule of download-only releases.
The Doctor arrives in the 52nd century, there to interfere with the Time Agency’s latest operation. He deems they have gone too far in “timelocking” a whole galaxy; implemented as a precaution when it was predicted that its inhabitants could destroy the universe after mastering time travel for themselves. However the ambitious Time Marshall, Anna Barnes, is supremely confident in her actions and considers herself more than a match for the Time Lord.
A Temporal Superpower
Comics writer and editor Robert Napton brings us a Time Agency different from anything we have come across before. The agency has been heard recently in both The Lives of Captain Jack and Missy, but this later iteration is more structured and militaristic; this is after Jack’s time and not an organisation we can imagine tolerating his antics!
The story is well-placed in continuity, referencing The Waters of Mars to call out the Doctor on his double standards. While there are obvious parallels to the Time War mentioned in-story, we were prompted to think of real-world concerns; the (human) Time Agency acts likes a nuclear superpower, suppressing others who come close to challenging its temporal power.
Neve McIntosh provides great narration, bringing the Time Marshall and her minions to life. She also provides a wonderfully creepy voice for the Hourglass weapon too. We were not so enamoured with her take on the Tenth Doctor though, it appeared to capture his mannerisms at their most ‘mockney’; to be fair, that could have been in the writing, but he seemed to be in show-off mode throughout.
While this is the last monthly release, there’s also the Paul Spragg Memorial winner Free Speech to enjoy (for free). After that, it is a lengthy wait until September 2021 for a promised boxset of six stories. We hope the range does continue after that, as it offers lots of opportunity for telling a variety of stories, as well as drawing on a diverse team of writing talent.