War has come to time. The Eighth Doctor, whether he likes it or not, has become part of these events. We saw how the Eighth Doctor bowed out of his time in the Time War in The Night of the Doctor, but now it’s time to hear how he fought through it. Today, I’ll be reviewing the final story in the first Time War box set, One Life by John Dorney.
As the full force of the Time War crashes down around the Doctor and his friends, a desperate battle for survival ensues.
But not everyone is playing the same game. Ollistra is after a weapon that could end the war in a stroke and she’ll sacrifice anyone or anything to take it back to Gallifrey. Even the Doctor.
Surrounded by Daleks, and on a tortured planet, only one man can save the day. But he doesn’t want to fight.
The time aspect of the Time War is at the fore once again at the beginning of One Life, with the Time Lords realising that someone or something has been affecting the timelines. I’m really enjoying the fact that in this box set we’ve seen some more of the timey-wimey nature of the Time War, as I personally felt it was somewhat lacking in the War Doctor box sets.
After the titles, we’re heading back in time, to focus on the lives of Rupa and Quarran, two of the refugees who we’ve been following since The Starship of Theseus. I have to admit that I didn’t mention them in my previous reviews as I thought that they were just supporting characters, however it does appear from the fact we’re learning more about them here, that they may be more pivotal than I imagined.
It seems that One Life is going to be what I’m going to lovely call a ‘flashback episode’, in which we keep flashing back to previous events during the main part of the story. Personally, I quite enjoy episodes that take on this format, as it can allow for some really interesting juxtaposition.
Dorney has once again made the Daleks so formidable, so relentless and so bloodthirsty; I absolutely love it. If this box set has proven anything, it’s that the Daleks should always be mindlessly slaughtering anyone and anything in their path. This is exactly what the scourge of Skaro should always be.
It’s not long before we learn that this entire box set has not been exactly as we believed; the Doctor’s got the wrong end of the stick too, and it could be argued that the Doctor’s ego got the better of him. It’s interesting when you think about the repercussions of what you learn in this story; are the Daleks really so against the Doctor after all?
John Dorney is known for being able to create gut-wrenching emotional moments in Doctor Who, especially with the Eighth Doctor; the last story that comes to mind is Absent Friends, which won critical and fan acclaim across the board. One Life has a similar thread and revelation, but this one hits somewhat closer to home. I know that not everyone will think this, but I genuinely believe that John Dorney bringing this kind of situation to light amidst a sci-fi story is brilliant storytelling; even among the epic scale of the Time War, for the normal people who get dragged into the events, the more personal battles they face will be their greatest.
I think it’s safe to say that it’s expected that in the last release of any Big Finish box set, that you’re likely to have a few twists and surprises sprinkled throughout; with the biggest revelation at the very end, making you thirsty for more Doctor Who goodness, but in One Life, there’s a huge revelation that comes about midway through, which changes everything you think you knew about the Time War box set. Personally, I think this is great because it seems that the stories will now reward repeat listening, and everything can be interpreted slightly differently. It’s just a testament to the skill of both Dorney and Fitton’s writing, and I still have 25 minutes of One Life left. Bravo, you two.
The conclusion of One Life is yet again, rather timey-wimey and odd; it seems as if the Time Lords are more powerful than we were lead to believe, and that something that happens in this story will come to the fore for the Doctor in a few regenerations time…
Overall, One Life is another strong story that ends the Time War box set; the Doctor and Bliss are in the TARDIS together, attempting to avoid the Time War as much as possible, but for how much longer? Only time will tell. If there’s one gripe I have with the Time War box set as a whole, it’s that Bliss doesn’t quite feel like a companion yet; but that might just be because she’s not really had too much time to interact with the Doctor on her own, which is something that will hopefully happen in the future Time War box sets.
Should you want to purchase The Eighth Doctor: The Time War 1, it’s currently available from Big Finish here for £23 on CD or £20 for a digital download for a limited time.