After waiting what seems like an eternity, I finally got my hands on some new Eighth Doctor Big Finish goodness, this time in the shape of Doom Coalition. The first part in a saga that follows on from the amazing success that was Dark Eyes, Doom Coalition 1 contains four stories; The Eleven, The Red Lady, The Galileo Trap and The Satanic Mill. This review is of the first story, The Eleven.
“When one of Gallifrey’s most notorious criminals attempts to escape from prison, Cardinal Padrac turns for help to the Time Lord who put him there in the first place.”
I feel like I should start this review with a disclaimer of sorts; on Big Finish, the Eighth Doctor is currently my absolute favourite incarnation of the Time Lord, (I only say currently because of the announcement of the War Doctor coming to Big Finish, and John Hurt’s voice is a thing of natural beauty) so some of my bias may be present, but I shall try my best to leave my fanboy nature out of this.
The title of this story, The Eleven, is reference to the major new character of Doom Coalition 1, The Eleven; a Time Lord who has all of his regenerations speaking to him in his head. The character, played by Mark Bonnar is mesmerising, and the concept is absolutely spectacular. Imagine a Jekyll and Hyde figure, but with another nine voices, all of your past selves rattling around. Bonnar’s characterisation of all of these incarnations is brilliant, especially as this story is completely dependant on audio, being able to convey different personalities in such a way you can easily distinguish them is incredibly difficult to pull of well, but is something that Bonnar does perfectly; whether it be the cowardly Eight, the terrible Three, or Eleven trying to keep all his other selves in check.
In my opinion, all of the cast is on top form in The Eleven, from Paul McGann, who seems to only improve his characterisation of the famous Time Lord known as The Doctor with every new series, to Nicola Walker who plays one of my favourite companions in Big Finish lore, Liv Chenka. The dynamic between The Doctor and Liv, for those who don’t know, has been growing since she met the Seventh Doctor in Robophobia, through the Dark Eyes saga where she became a fully fledged companion, and now into Doom Coalition. At this point in time, I feel that Liv is grounding the Doctor and keeping him occupied so he doesn’t have much time to dwell on the events that happened in Dark Eyes 3 and Dark Eyes 4.
All in all, I feel that The Eleven is setting the stage for the rest of Doom Coalition, and I highly doubt it’ll be just Doom Coalition 1, but Doom Coalition 2,3 and 4 as well, a sixteen hour saga that I cannot wait to hear more of. Whilst the story itself is fairly straightforward for a Doctor Who one, I feel that the simplicity of the Doctor being assigned the task of apprehending The Eleven who has somehow broken free from his Gallifreyan prison is a great one. The story is the right mix of politics, Who lore and psychological mystery, and I can only hope that the rest of Doom Coalition follows suit.
The writer, Matt Fitton has done a superlative job of setting up the character of The Eleven, as well as the storyline that the rest of Doom Coalition will pursue. I cannot thank him enough for making such a gripping, atmospheric and brilliant story.
The rating system on the Gallifrey Archive is a scale of 1-10.
For The Eleven, I will give a rating of: