Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) has once crossed dimensions to find the Doctor and save the alternate version of Earth she, her Mum Jackie (Camille Coduri) and the alternate version of her Dad Pete (Shaun Dingwall) call home. But she didn’t find the right world straight away. Now Big Finish bring us her adventures in the multiverse on the way to finding the Doctor.
The Endless Night by Jonathan Morris
Landing in a new version of Earth for the first time with the Dimension Cannon, Rose enlists the help of this worlds Clive (Mark Benton) hoping he will know as much about the Doctor here as he did when she first met the Doctor. She doesn’t find the Doctor, but she does find this world’s version of her parents. Here they had a falling out years ago, but as this world is ending at the hands of a long, cold, dark night, can she bring them together again?
Straight away, this piece sets out its stall as human drama in sci-fi clothing. It’s so good to see Clive back. Although he only had one episode and a few scenes at that, he was instantly a really well drawn character and played perfectly by Benton. Here he continues in this vein and what more perfect companion to Rose than one who is apt to believe. It feels like a simple and straight forward story at heart, with Rose trying to get her parents from another world to reconcile but perfectly written and performed, and it gives a nice intro into the premise of this set.
The Flood by Lisa McMullin
In a world beset by endless rain and dying from the effects of a climate change, Clive meets the wife he never met. Rose finds her father in this world, with his son from this world, and they all find a government conspiracy when it appears dramatic steps have been taken to save the world that should be working by now but aren’t.
I really enjoyed getting to know more about Clive. They suggest that maybe he and his wife were always each other’s best destiny without hitting you over the head with it.
Of course, issues of climate change and governments spreading propaganda feel more timely than ever. What keeps this original and feeling very Russell T Davies (who consulted on this set) is the fact we see it all through the eyes of one family. Much like his recent series Years and Years, the focus is on how this tragedy effects one family and them digging for the truth. It’s also good to shake up the Tyler clan a bit with the introduction of a male version of Rose and Jackie no longer being with this world’s Pete.
Ghost Machines by AK Benedict
After thus far being confined to the control centre, Pete decides to join Rose on a jump through the dimensions leaving Clive manning the base. They find a world where Pete is a tech giant who sadly meets his end in much the same way Rose’s Dad did, leading to sad flashbacks for our hero.
As Rose questions what it means to have so many different versions of her family around her, they both find out something is amiss with the machines this world’s Pete created and his widow may be up to something.
It was nice at this stage to put Pete from our home world in this set (if that makes sense) into the action. He plays the culture shock well and the slight tingle of jealousy at Pete who has done even better than him. We see a version of Jackie who isn’t as innocent as ours but keeps you guessing as to how much you can or can’t trust her.
I did find this one covered some quite familiar ground, machines acting up that be sentient as well as the family angle – are alternate versions really the people you know? There is also a story line regarding them being familiar with alternate realities in this world, which I felt didn’t really get time to be explored to justify its inclusion, but could be interesting in a tale of its own. But for that, the characters are well written and even if some elements are familiar, it’s a good version of this type of story.
The Last Party on Earth by Matt Fitton
Continuing on the apocalyptic theme, Rose and Jackie land on an Earth that knows it’s dying and is having a party to commiserate. Jackie catches up with a friend she lost years ago and Rose meets a couple of young lovers in her world, who in this world aren’t together. Being two young men in love, even if they can find their way back to each other, will everyone be accepting of it when they do?
This is a really sweet story and shows hope in the face of the end of the world in a really refreshing way. It doesn’t shy away from the fact that some will always chose to tear things down even at the end of the world, but it shows most people are good at heart and will come together at a time like this.
The two young lovers, Mook (Waleed Akhtar) and Patrice (Syrus Lowe), have a nicely complicated back story and good reasons why this version of them never came together. The storyline of the grandfather Ronnie (Amerjit Deu) not accepting their love is not overplayed but strikes to the core of what young gay lovers face. It also shows the grandfather as a three dimensional character, not just as an obstacle to their love. I love the deep cut, that these are character drawn from the novelisation of Rose, the Doctor Who (2005) pilot written by Davies himself.
Also look out for Rose having a hard time with Jackie not sticking to the mission and Jackies heartfelt realationship with the friend she lost so long ago.
The cast are all amazing and the writing is strong throughout. Adding Clive to the cast of the Tyler family adds a lot to the dynamic and gives us a family to follow outside of the Tylers.
I am ready for further sets to maybe go past dying worlds and explore other familiar families and characters from this era of Doctor Who through another world’s lens. As much fun as it is to meet other Tylers, I think this format could feel a little samey if not broken up going forward. The family drama is clearly what they are going for and it is achieved, but in some instances I feel the stories are more complete than others. Leaving a world dying does make it hard to feel a sense of conclusion.
All this being said, it’s really nice to be back with these characters and to get four adventures standard Doctor Who might not allow for.