This year, before we get Series 11, I’m going back in time thanks to Big Finish, to review the Eighth Doctor Adventures, following the story of (unsurprisingly) the Eighth Doctor and Lucie Miller. Today, I’ll be reviewing Immortal Beloved by Jonathan Clements.
‘Theosophy? Ha! Surely you mean theophany? Because we’re not talking about real gods here, are we? We’re talking about the appearance of gods. Your heavenly powers are a little too mechanical for my liking. And, if I may be so bold, Lord Zeus, your demeanor is not very godlike.’
The beginning of the story is quite reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet, with a pair of lovers making their way into the middle of nowhere to go to die. There are hints that things are not quite as they seem, as the pair both talk about this being their first time dying; and for humans dying is normally a thing you’re only able to do once. They claim that they’re attempting suicide to displease fake gods, it seems like there’s a lot going on in this story.
The entire first act of Immortal Beloved is extremely melodramatic, it’s like high Greek drama crossed with a bit of Shakespeare with a pinch of sci-fi thrown in for good measure. It all feels rather old-timey, but there’s helicopters and radios. A proper juxtaposition of old and new. It’s one of the few times I wish I could actually see a Big Finish story.
It’s not long before the Doctor meets Zeus and Ganymede; with Zeus being played by Ian McNiece, who’s more well known in the Whoniverse for playing Winston Churchill. The Doctor sees right through whatever is going on, and he knows that Zeus isn’t really a god, which has some surprising results. I expected Zeus himself to believe that he was indeed a deity, but it appears that he knows all isn’t as it seems, and he’s keeping the facade for a greater purpose.
We quickly learn the revelation of Immortal Beloved a lot quicker than I anticipated; it seems that both the gent that was attempting to kill himself and Ganymede are clones of Zeus, who has no problem shoving his mind into a new, younger body, allowing him to seemingly live forever.
It’s one of the universe’s strange coincidences that this story, all about living forever and being young again was release just once before The Lazarus Experiment aired; considering how similar the main concepts are. I have to admit though, Immortal Beloved seems to have been a lot more creative in their endeavour.
Immortal Beloved get’s a lot darker than I expected too, with Zeus making an insanely creepy advance on Lucie; this is the kind of thing that Doctor Who would probably never do on TV, but Big Finish, again, allows us to explore the darker side of humans in greater detail, and McNiece plays the creep perfectly. (No offence to him, I’m sure he’s lovely in real life!)
The final act of Immortal Beloved, again relishes in the melodrama, with one final twist and everything seemingly coming back full circle. It’s not the most complex of arcs, but the twist definitely came out of nowhere.
Overall, I think it’s safe to say that Immortal Beloved is going to be a story you either love or hate, depending on how much you like the theatre. This is easily the most theatrical release in the Eighth Doctor Adventures so far, and it plays with it incredibly well. There’s a lot of high-drama, a lot of idealisms in regards to love that might rub you up the wrong way or make you feel as if it’s all a bit contrived, but that’s what a lot of theatre is. There are definitely certain aspects of Immortal Beloved that I wish we got more insight on, such as how Zeus initially began, how long the civilisation has been going for and why there’s all the Greek imagery, but there’s nothing I can do to change that.
Was Immortal Beloved my favourite ever story? No, it wasn’t. Did it entertain me? Absolutely. I just wish we spent slightly less time on the romantic plot line, and more delving into the history of what’s been going on.
Should you want to purchase Immortal Beloved, it’s currently available from Big Finish here for £8.99 for the download, or £10.99 for the CD.