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 final story in the set, The Crucible of Souls!
The date has been set.
The trap has been sprung.
A life has been taken and a maniac is on the loose.
With the TARDIS crew separated and in terrible trouble, will today be the day the bad guys win?
We ended The Doomsday Chronometer with a case of mistaken identity, and we begin The Crucible of Souls with the familiar; River and the Doctor flying a reluctant TARDIS. Who doesn’t love the familiar?
After the titles, we get back to the action with Liv, Helen and the Doctor as he gets accustomed to a new TARDIS. It must be difficult for a Time Lord to familiarise themselves with a new TARDIS, like a person wearing someone else’s shoes. Speaking of shoes, who knew the Doctor could be such a fashionista? Liv and Helen learn first hand how fashion conscious he can be.
Meanwhile, the Doctor and River (this will only get more complicated, but you’ll thank me later) discovers that the future has gone. Time is ending, and the safest place is probably a TARDIS.
Back with the Doctor, Liv and Helen, they’ve decided to go somewhere rather important on Gallifrey. Somewhere incredibly pivotal. They go, and brace yourself for this revelation; to the Gallifrey Archives. I know. I honestly teared up when it happened. I’m going to go slightly off tangent now, and if you don’t want to read something that’s not really a part of this review; I recommend you skip ahead to the next paragraph. Okay, here it goes. John Dorney, if you’re reading this; I just want to say thank you. I don’t know whether this is a happy coincidence, or if you saw the name of the site and thought it was a good idea; but sending the Doctor, Liv and Helen to the Gallifrey Archives has honestly made my year. I don’t even know if the archives were your idea, Matt Fitton’s or someone else’s, but; if you’re reading this; I am forever in your debt. Also, get Big Finish to hire me. Thanks. Like wow. Anyway, back on with the reviewing thing that I’m supposed to be doing.
What’s better, there’s a lot of the word ‘Archive’ in this story. Lots of Gallifrey Archive. Lots. Thank you again. Sorry, I promised I wouldn’t do this.
With the Doctor, Liv and Helen going to the Gallifrey Archives (it honestly feels so good typing that), we learn that the Doctor’s plan is to nip in and have a look around (which, coincidentally, is something that I recommend you do) then leave after a quick browse. I’ve never agreed more with a Time Lord in my life. The Doctor, Liv and Helen arrive in the archive (Welcome, by the way) they appear to be in some of the most secret vaults, where some of the most powerful weapons are stored.
It’s so difficult to talk about the last story in a box set like this, as I really don’t want to spoil too much for you; which is why the reviews of the final stories in box sets are normally rather shorter than the others. Both versions of the Doctor are absolutely stellar, and are some of the best performances of the Doctor I’ve heard. This is why I love Paul McGann.
Going back to John Dorney, his two stories in Doom Coalition 3 really showcase how versatile he is as a writer; as a wannabe scriptwriter myself, I have to commend him for his ability to write both beautiful, personal character pieces and big, epic, science fiction, sometimes within seconds of each other. The way he handles Liv and Helen’s Doctor is a stroke of genius and really makes you question his morals. You really get a sense that this Doctor is so on edge after dealing with everything that he has encountered.
When the Doctor and River learn that Liv and Helen’s Doctor is making his way to the Crucible of Souls, River’s Doctor begins to panic. He doesn’t have a clue why the other version of the Doctor is going there, nor does he know what the Crucible of Souls actually is.
Considering the final story in a box set like this is usually the big, epic action piece that the previous three has been building up to, I find that the humour often gets cast aside to focus more on the main plot. I can’t let one line from this release go unnoticed though, and I have to say, that John Dorney has given me a new insult;
“You have the face of a constipated Sontaran”.
After the humour though comes the darkness, the evil intents, the double-crossing, the triple-crossing and the revelations; the truths that the Doctor doesn’t want to know.
During the final act, there’s a lot of confusion about who’s working for who, which deals have been broken and which lives matter. It’s brilliant, and a certain character gets the recognition they deserve. We’ve learnt about the character for a while and their actions are so true to who they are that it’s unreal. What’s more, every one of the main cast, whether the Doctor, the companions or the others, all get moments to really show their versatility as actors.
The conclusion to The Crucible of Souls is absolutely superb, and it seems to set up not only Doom Coalition 4, but the future of Gallifrey that we already know is coming. The Time War is drawing ever closer so it seems; and the Time Lords seem to know how to attempt to stop it from happening. The Doctor and his companions fates seem sealed; and we have to wait until March 2017 to find out how they’re going to get out of this sticky situation.
Overall, The Crucible of Souls is what I wanted from all of Doom Coalition in just over an hour; it’s fun, exciting, confusing, brilliant and mesmerising. It leaves you on the edge of your seat, and makes you cry out for more. It looks at the Eighth Doctor’s past as well as nodding to his future, and, all in all, The Crucible of Souls makes you wish you had your own TARDIS so you could jump forward in time to hear what happens next.
Should you want to purchase The Crucible of Souls, 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.