Another month, and the end of another saga; this time for the Eighth Doctor. Doom Coalition 4 is the final box set of the phenomenal Doom Coalition story, and the stakes are higher than ever for the Doctor, Liv, Helen and River. Today, I’ll be reviewing the penultimate story in this release, The Side of The Angels.
Cardinal Ollistra has plans for New York, plans which involve the Deputy Mayor and her sponsor, one ‘Reverend Mortimer’ – better known to the Doctor as the Meddling Monk. The Eleven arrives to stamp out the resistance, but that isn’t the only danger the Doctor finds lurking in the shadows – for New York is a city of Weeping Angels.
This story should be good. My favourite Doctor against my favourite villain played by my favourite incarnation of said villain. This story better be good. Or else, Matt Fitton, I’ll come for you. No pressure.
We start with the Eleven (who, incidentally is in the running to potentially surpass the Monk as my favourite Time Lord villain) being horrible. The camaraderie of previous box sets is gone, and the Eleven is certainly no joke; pretty much torturing his victim from the very start of the story. Mark Bonnar does an incredible job, playing eleven people at once. All the Eleven wants to know is the whereabouts of the Doctor, and it seems that he won’t stop torturing until he gets a satisfactory answer. What a cheery pre-title scene, eh?
It’s not too long before we’re in New York (concrete jungle where dreams are made) and it seems that there’s been a dozen bridges erected (grow up and stop giggling). Then it seems that the man behind the building, a Reverend Mortimer, sounds awfully like Rufus Hound who sounds awfully like the Monk. Then Ollistra shows up too. It seems that the Reverend and Ollistra are up to something…
Speaking of Ollistra and the Reverend being up to something, it’s shortly after we discover that there are some angels loose in New York, taking out some poor delivery guys. Personally, I think that Big Finish’s take on the Weeping Angels are even more terrifying than any time we’ve seen them on TV.
I’ll tell you something, Matt Fitton sure knows how to cram things into a story; within the first ten minutes we’re:
introduced to this incarnation of Ollistra, introduced to the Monk, told that there are Weeping Angels in New York and that the Doctor, Liv and Helen are looking to Ollistra for help regarding the current state of Gallifrey with Padrac seemingly in charge. All that in ten minutes. It makes me wonder what madness can possibly happen in the next fifty.
When the Doctor and Ollistra meet up with the Monk, the Doctor is understandably hesitant about the Monk’s involvement in saving Gallifrey. After all, the Monk and the Eighth Doctor have had a somewhat rocky past, especially in regards to a certain Lucie Bleeding Miller.
Personally, I’m surprised that we learned what Ollistra and the Monk’s plan is so soon in the story, I expected it would have been more of a revelation near the end. Although, I understand why Matt Fitton told us when he did; I can’t stop thinking of asking questions.
There’s an exceptional scene in which the Monk is having a dinner date that goes awry, one of his old friends dresses up as a waiter to surprise him (the scene is somewhat reminiscent of the scene in the Sherlock episode “The Empty Hearse” in which Sherlock plays the same trick), and along with Rufus’ phenomenal comedic timing and performance, cements him even more as my favourite Monk.
One of my (many) favourite aspects of The Side of The Angels is the B-plot that develops regarding the Deputy Mayor and a hitman known as the Sharpshooter, who’s seemingly taking out people all over the city. It gives the whole episode a crime noir vibe, which I think works really well, especially when set in New York.
When the B-plot merges with the A-plot there’s a great romp of a story involving the Deputy Mayor, the Sharpshooter, Liv and Helen. I love how this story seems to cover so many genres so well.
The conclusion of The Side of The Angels is my favourite cliffhanger in the entire Doom Coalition series, and so it should be, as it’s leading up to the finale of this sixteen hour epic. We get the Doctor, Liv and Helen in danger, members of the Doom Coalition geared up to destroy the universe, a regeneration, and hope seems to be lost. It’s great.
I was going to write about why I think that Rufus Hound might be the best incarnation of the Monk in the closing part of this review; but I realised that it would make the review way too long, so you can expect that article some time next week, so now it’s time to come to the round up paragraph.
Seeing as this story featured many of my favourite Doctor Who elements all together, the Eighth Doctor, Rufus Hound’s Monk and Big Finish, I expected myself to be somewhat underwhelmed due to my unrealistic high expectations of such a tale. That simply wasn’t the case; this is quite simply my favourite Big Finish story to date, surpassing that of The Two Masters last year. The reason I’m giving this story the 101% rating (meaning it’s joint with The Two Masters) is that I’ve yet to listen to Stop The Clock, and I don’t want to have to go up to 103% so soon. Whilst others may disagree with me, I wholeheartedly believe that The Side of The Angels should go down as the definitive Doctor Who story. Unless Stop The Clock is even more phenomenal.
Should you want to purchase Doom Coalition 4, it’s currently available from Big Finish here for £20 for a limited time on both digital download, and the CD box set.