The Ninth Doctor has joined Big Finish! Well… kind of. Christopher Eccleston hasn’t joined (yet (we can pray)) but Big Finish are giving us four new stories set within the Ninth Doctor’s era. The closest thing we’ve had so far was The Oncoming Storm from The Churchill Years box set last year, but now, Nine has a box set of his own. Today, I’ll be reviewing the second story in The Ninth Doctor Chronicles, The Window On The Moor.
Emily and her sisters once told each other fables of warring kingdoms: wicked princes, noble dukes, and their battling armies. Now she wanders the moors of her childhood alone, remembering those tales. The TARDIS arrives amid a strange civil war, with prisons made of glass and cities stalked by terrifying beasts. As windows open between worlds, stories and storyteller meet, and Rose comes face to face with Emily Brontë.
Emily Brontë is one hell of a woman. Una McCormark is a hell of a woman. Rose Tyler is one hell of a woman. This story, within the pre-title sequence seems to be filled with powerful women. This is how it should be (and I anticipate The Time Ladies will review this too).
Yes, in this release, Rose is by the Doctor’s side, unlike in the previous story, The Bleeding Heart. Within the first few minutes you can tell that this Doctor is somewhat softer than the version we heard in the previous story, and it really goes to show how much the Doctor needs a companion.
Of course, it’s not long before the Doctor and Rose find themselves amidst a kerfuffle, and in true Doctor Who fashion, they get split up. Rose, in what seems to be a Series 1 trend, ends up with some handsome chap, (she’s already had Jack, Adam and Mickey, isn’t that enough? Save some flirtatiousness for the rest of us Miss Tyler!) and the Doctor is attempting to go with the flow.
I have to admit that I was somewhat taken aback by how bleak this story is and how early it’s bleakness comes into play. I’m going to have to plead ignorance and say I don’t know too much about the Brontë sisters or their works, but I’m fairly certain that they’re known for a bit of bleakness, so it seems to fit.
Rose and her saviour end up finding a teleportation mist and are whisked away to one of the best places in the universe. Yorkshire. It seems as if Emily Brontë was expecting someone too.
Back with the Doctor, he’s found himself in a prison made of glass, and where the guards are made of glass, and space can be manipulated to make escape impossible. It’s ideas like this that are so Doctor Who, but wouldn’t necessarily work with a BBC budget; luckily, our imaginations have an unlimited budget, so you can imagine just how marvellous such a sight would be.
It’s about midway through that I think we finally get hints at the twist in The Window On The Moor, when the Duke who saved Rose and went through the mist with her reveals that his dearly beloved is the spitting image of a certain Miss Brontë. It could be a coincidence, but the universe is rarely so lazy; and if you don’t read the synopsis, it could be a very intriguing twist.
This is a total side note to the rest of the review, but I couldn’t not mention it. I never thought that I’d hear that someone was “embroidering angrily” in a Big Finish release, but that can now be ticked off my bucket list. The way that it’s been written, alongside Briggs’ narration made that moment one of the few rare occasions where I had to pause the story so I could have a little chuckle to myself. Well done.
The moment when Rose and Emily find themselves reunited with the Doctor in the glass prison with Ada is absolutely superbly written, and really nails the tone of the comedy that was found in many Series 1 stories. Even though you can’t see it, you can tell that the Doctor looks slightly perplexed when he realises that Ada and Emily look the same.
The conclusion of the story is very fairytale-esque, not quite Disney levels of happiness, nor is it Grimm levels of, well… grimness. It seems to be a fairly healthy middle ground.
Overall, The Window On The Moor is a story that focusses on the more fantastical side of RTD’s Doctor Who, and personally, part of me wishes we got a story like this with the Ninth Doctor on TV. Una McCormack’s descriptive prowess is second to none and really paints a great picture in your mind. The story was fun and engaging, and I’d consider it to be a good jumping on point for anyone new to Big Finish.
Should you want to purchase The Ninth Doctor Chronicles, it’s currently available from Big Finish here for £23 on CD, or £20 for a digital download for a limited time.