Might-Have-Beens and Never-Weres

Review of Neverland (#33)
Big Finish Release Date: July 2002
Doctor/Companion: Eight, Charley, and Romana II
Stars: Paul McGann, India Fisher, and Lalla Ward
Preceding Story: The Time of the Daleks (Eight, Charley)
Succeeding Story: Spare Parts (Five, Nyssa)

It's been diverting to broaden my Big Finish horizons and listen to some adventures with the Sixth and Seventh Doctors, but I found I was missing the Eighth. Thus I've returned to the last of his adventures recommended to me from the first fifty releases in the Main Range.

Charley has visited a couple more interesting points in space and time with the Doctor since last I joined them. We do not, however, start with the two of them—instead, we are on Gallifrey with Lord President Romanadvoratrelundar—known to the Doctor (and us) simply as Romana. Someone is reading out historical facts revolving around Charley's anomalous survival of the R101 crash and her subsequent travels, but the recitation soon becomes garbled. The paradox appears finally to be too much for the Web of Time to bear.

When we do return to the Doctor and Charley, though, it's clear things aren't stable in the TARDIS, either. The Doctor tries to tuck Charley safely away in some backwater corner of the universe (to his credit, it is at least one helluva party), but she refuses to be fobbed off so easily. They end up on Gallifrey together, where they discover the universe is being threatened by an incursion of anti-time—all because of Charley.

By the end of Part 1 (and as the story is split into only two parts, that's well over an hour), we've learned there is an entire different universe (or dimension, call it what you will) where anti-time is natural and our time is the anomaly. In fact, our heroes discover creatures of anti-time there: Never People.

One thread that appears again and again in Neverland is one we've encountered briefly before and promises to crop up again (just check out the title of the next BF Main Range audio in which the Eighth Doctor appears if you need proof): a character from Gallifreyan legend called Zagreus. I've been told that that subsequent story isn't terribly good, but I can't imagine not following this plot arc to its end. I'm afraid you'll be subjected to a review at some point in the future anyway.

As for Neverland, I won't spoil any more surprises, but there are all the usual variety of plot twists and revelations. It will come as a shock to no one that I loved McGann's Doctor here, nor that I thought the entire cast was top notch. I love the deep friendship between Charley and the Doctor, and how events unfold in part because of their true affection for one another. The plot felt believable, and twists were revealed such that I had always but not quite figured them out myself, which is just about the right balance for my preferences.

I will admit, though, that the cliffhanger would've driven me Librarian-poo had I been listening in sequence at the time. All I can say is that I'm glad I don't have to wait 16 months so find out how it all shakes out.

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Comments

PaulGreaves's picture

I'm glad you liked it. I'm extremely fond of the early days of the Eighth Doctor. These days he lives in a world of perpetual gloom and misery, but it didn't start out that way. I love the joie de vivre he has in his first couple of series from BF, which makes Neverland all the more powerful, as its suddenly got very serious. Unlike Ten and Rose's unbearable smugness and arrogance leaping around the universe finding everything so terribly amusing, like oversexed teenagers, the Doctor and Charley's relationship works so much better. Personally, I find much of what follows Neverland to be a fairly big mis-step (the Divergent Universe, C'Rizz etc) which is why I've only suggested three more in my 'must listen' list (although the Mary Shelley trilogy is great but I didn't get as far as that).

The cliffhanger is still, for me, amazing. And you're right, waiting sixteen months was murder, made all the more painful when Zagreus finally turns up and is a bloated, messy tale that doesn't work. Ah well. It doesn't stop me enjoying Neverland though.

I know you're flipping between Six and Eight, but can I recommend a visit to Five very soon? Spare Parts is a highlight of Doctor Who in all its forms and is required, thrilling listening, in my opinion :)

By PaulGreaves --

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http://thetimevault.wordpress.com

mrfranklin's picture

I've heard nothing but superlatives about Spare Parts, so I know I need to get to it sooner or later. :) To be honest, the Fifth Doctor hasn't done a lot for me in the past, so I've been kind of putting off those audios. I'll take your suggestion under advisement, though, and maybe move onto Five next. :)

By mrfranklin
PaulGreaves's picture

For me, Davison's Doctor has had as much a renewal through BF as Colin's. For BF, Davison plays him as much more of an older man in a young man's body, as he originally wanted to on TV and we occasionally got flashes of towards the end of his time. I also think he gets some of the strongest stories here too. All his adventures that I put in the Top 20 list are strong ones, and the introduction of Erimem in The Eye of the Scorpion is brilliant. A female Egyptian Pharaoh, travelling with Peri and Five works really, really well. Also, BF develop Nyssa and her relationship with the Doctor much more too. It's interesting to see how well they could have worked together had Tegan not been brought back immediately.

By PaulGreaves --

____________________________________________________

http://thetimevault.wordpress.com

mrfranklin's picture

All right. I'll give Five a go next time 'round. :)

By mrfranklin
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