The Doctor and Lucie are back for a second series of Eighth Doctor Adventures! After seemingly powering through the first series, it seems only fitting that, with no delay, we move onto the second. Today, I’ll be reviewing Dead London by Pat Mills.
“Someone’s playing with us. Manipulating time and space for their own ends.”
The TARDIS lands in London. But which one? The Doctor and Lucie find themselves trapped in a maze of interlocking Londons from Roman times to the present day.
But they are not alone in this labyrinth: a killer is on their trail.
The Doctor is in court. What a way to start a series, eh? The Doctor on trial. Why hasn’t anybody thought to do that before? Maybe, they could even make an entire series revolving around the court case! Wait… they- they did that? Awesome! (I joke, of course I know of Trial of A Time Lord.) What heinous crime has the Doctor committed this time? The worst of them all. Parking violations. What’s stranger though is the penalty. Hanging…
It seems something is wrong with time for the Doctor, as he was whisked back to the 1700’s in the blink of an eye. It seems that there’s something not quite right with the Doctor’s new (well, old) judge, or the antics of the courtroom either.
Meanwhile, Lucie too has seemingly been whisked back in time, into the Second World War, where she’s helped by a Canary who saved her from being arrested. It’s a testament to Lucie’s character that she’s so nonjudgmental and so quick to adapt to these strange goings on; being whisked back in time without the TARDIS would undoubtedly be a hard truth to swallow, but Lucie Miller manages to take it in her stride.
It seems that something is not only awry with time, but with space too; with the Doctor and Lucie not only being teleported back in time, but random rivers just showing up when they feel like it. Only Lucie seems to think there’s something strange about it, too…
I’ll be honest, I’m around halfway through Dead London, and it’s incredibly difficult to discuss this without spoiling anything; but I have to admit that I love it. The Doctor is on his way to being hanged and Lucie is busy being somewhat violent and pushing people in this appearing and disappearing river.
Once the Doctor and Lucie are reunited (around 2/3 of the way in) their chemistry is once again off the charts. Together, they manage to piece together exactly what’s going on, and they’re quickly able to head towards the cause of all of this time and space confusion and put it right. That is, until the source of this muddling whisks them away to meet Boudicca.
If there’s one thing that I’m not a huge fan of, it’s that the final act feels incredibly rushed; there are obstacles placed in the Doctor and Lucie’s way, but they overcome them extremely quickly, in a matter of seconds actually.
The conclusion of Dead London, too, is very neatly wrapped up, with the Doctor and Lucie back in 2008 with the TARDIS, ready to go off on another crazy adventure.
Overall, Dead London is a great mystery during it’s first half. The fact that you’re seemingly flung into this adventure alongside the Doctor and Lucie, who also aren’t sure what’s going on is great, and you never feel as if you’re being withheld information from the leads in order to make a more interesting story. The entire aspect of being flung through time seemingly at random is really interesting too, and I wish we got to hear more of the effects and consequences of that. If anything, it’s the latter half that let’s it down, there’s a lot of conveniences throughout, and there never feels as if there are any real stakes; as I said earlier, there are a few obstacles put in the Doctor and Lucie’s way, but they’re overcome so quickly and easily that it seemed pointless including them in the story.
Is Dead London a bad story? No. It’s just a shame that a main concept with so much potential has seemingly been squandered here. If I’m honest, it feels like a series opener, it’s fun, and it invited new listeners on board, it’s just a shame that Dead London didn’t elevate itself into being something truly great, as the potential was undoubtedly there.
Should you want to purchase Dead London, it’s currently available from Big Finish here for £8.99 for the download, or £10.99 for the CD.