It’s absolutely no secret that I love the Eighth Doctor, especially with Big Finish; Paul McGann’s incarnation of the Time Lord is my favourite incarnation; so, when Doom Coalition or any other Big Finish release featuring the Eighth Doctor releases, I get hyped. Seriously hyped. On Thursday, Doom Coalition 3 was released from Big Finish, so today we’re reviewing the third story in the set, The Doomsday Chronometer!
While River Song takes Helen on an archaeological expedition like no other, the Doctor finds himself enlisted by an alien Queen to save her people.
Trapped and alone, Liv stares death in the face as she meets the enemy who’s been dogging the TARDIS travellers’ footsteps throughout Earth’s history.
The Doomsday Chronometer has been protected for five centuries: secret cults and societies jealously guarding its mystery. But what is their real purpose? The Doctor is about to discover the truth…
We start at the end. The end of the world. The end of everything. And a recap of the events from The Eighth Piece, with River dragging Helen along for a ride. It seems that The Eighth Piece and The Doomsday Chronometer are going to be more intrinsically linked than they are with Absent Friends.
After the title sequence, we learn that the Doctor is still a prisoner of Thomas Cromwell, and that he’s amidst a failed attempt of escape. Liv is also imprisoned and is about to be encased in molten lead and River is finally going to be an archeologist.
All hope for the Doctor isn’t lost though, as a mysterious woman has paid Cromwell handsomely for the opportunity to speak with our favourite Time Lord. I know who you think it is, I thought it was her too. It isn’t. This woman has been seeking the Doctor out of time and space, and she soon announces who exactly she is. Lady Resolver. Nope, me neither.
Back with River and Helen, we learn about a secret sect that wants to bring the doom in doomsday, and they seem adamant to get all the pieces of the Clock² together too. Having Helen act as a companion to River is a really interesting move in my opinion, as it gives River the opportunity to act more like a leading lady as the Doctor isn’t around, and it let’s Helen have the chance to be a companion on her own; I don’t know if it’s just me, but up until this point, I’ve always felt as if Helen has been in Liv’s shadow for the majority of Doom Coalition; which is a shame, because Helen is fantastic.
Lady Resolver as a character is one that is extremely interesting, even in the Whoniverse. She seems to be a sentient clock, part of an extinct race that the Clocksmith has taken a great interest in (no guesses as to why). Luckily for both Lady Resolver and the Doctor, Thomas Cromwell wants them gone, as they’re both too weird for him to comprehend. Luckily, an unknown friend has sent the TARDIS down to where the Doctor was kept prisoner. If I’ve learned anything from Doctor Who, it’s that you should rarely trust a monk…
Something that I didn’t expect from this story, or any Big Finish story if I’m honest, is a callback to the Tenth Doctor story The Girl In The Fireplace; it doesn’t feel shoehorned in either, it’s just a cheeky little nod to an adventure of old. (Over ten years ago, when did that happen?)
When we’re reunited with the Doctor and Lady Resolver, we learn that the Doctor thinks that time and space seems to be getting smaller and smaller; it seems as if the Fifteenth to the Seventeenth Century Europe is all that’s going to remain. It seems as if the Clocksmith’s meddling, along with his newfound army of Solvers are causing a bigger effect on the universe than he probably realises…
River’s storyline becomes more and more timey-wimey and bootstrap paradoxical as The Doomsday Chronometer progresses; it’s not necessarily the easiest thing to follow along with, but I have to say that Matt Fitton has written a story that has given me a newfound respect for River in the way that she handles all of these jumps in time. River, we know, is a genius; but to stop thinking so laterally and being able to work out when she needs to go at what point is a feat in itself. Well done River.
It’s not the Clocksmith’s day either when River comes to save Liv from almost certain doom, as Lady Resolver follows her too; and the Solvers are more loyal to their queen than they are to a rogue Time Lord. The only thing I didn’t like was how easily the Clocksmith seemingly gives up; it’s almost like the fact he’s spent millennia building the Doomsday Chronometer means nothing to him, and he sort of just fizzles out. Considering the Clocksmith is set up to be the big bad, unless he comes back later in the story or in The Crucible of Souls, I have to say that he’s rather much a squib.
The Doctor learns about Professor Malone being hot on his heels (or just ahead of him) and it doesn’t take long to work out something very important about Professor Malone. She’s a stalker! After this revelation, we see the Doctor do something he rarely does; he begins to obey the laws of time to the letter. He’s given a solution that would seemingly solve everything, but he seems to know that everything that has happened has to keep happening and not alter (so a bootstrap paradox can’t occur I think).
A scene between the Doctor and River is the last thing I actually expected considering that River’s not supposed to meet any Doctor before his tenth incarnation; however the way that Matt Fitton decides to get around it is very River Song. It’s hard to explain without ruining it, but I must admit, I learnt a new word today. Also, who knew anyone would ever get called a sexy penguin and them be okay with it?
Luckily, the Clocksmith reappears as a greater force than he seemed, and the Doctor seems to think that everything that has happened is his fault. It’s really difficult to talk about exactly what’s happened, what’s happening, and the repercussions, as I wouldn’t want to spoil anything for you. The finale of this story really seemed to come out of nowhere, and a different coalition to the one that you were expecting comes to the fore.
The conclusion of The Doomsday Chronometer genuinely sent shivers down my spine; something that doesn’t often happen. But oh good god is it amazing. There’s a thing that happens, and it’s amazing. Really amazing. Brilliantly amazing. Well done Matt Fitton for introducing someone old and someone new and then smashing you in the feels with a heart to hearts between River and the Doctor about how much Liv and Helen think of the Doctor. A reminder of Absent Friends if ever there was one. Love is a powerful thing. The parting words of one of the characters in The Doomsday Chronometer really puts the icing on the cake,
“I tried to be a good man.”
Should you want to purchase The Doomsday Chronometer, it’s currently available as part of the Doom Coalition 3 box set from Big Finish which can be purchased here for £20.00 for either the CD or the download.