Big Finish: Doctor Who - OUT OF TIME 2 The Gates Of Hell Review - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Big Finish: Doctor Who - OUT OF TIME 2 The Gates Of Hell Review

Matthew Kresal visits Paris in the Cyber-time.
Ah, multi-Doctor stories. There's something about them that excites fans, be it anniversary year specials like The Five Doctors or The Day of the Doctor to audio stories such as The Light at the End or The End of the Beginning. Or, more recently, David Tennant's Tenth Doctor meeting Tom Baker's Fourth in Out of Time as the pair faced off against the Daleks. That particular reunion was just the first for Tennant's ever-popular incarnation, with a follow-up of sorts following in The Gates of Hell, this time seeing Ten meet another familiar face as they matched wits against another foe.

That familiar face, as the cover art will attest, being Peter Davison's Fifth Doctor. There's a certain amount of fannish delight to be taken from this particular pairing, both given that they appeared as these characters before in the 2007 Children in Need short Time Crash and the fact that (through Davison's daughter Georgia being Tennant's wife) they're also family. It's something that can carry over into performances, but familiarity can also breed contempt in terms of chemistry. Is this something listeners need to worry about when listening?

Not a chance! The chemistry between Tennant and Davison, first sampled in Time Crash, is alive and well here. In contrast to the typical multi-Doctor chemistry of slight bickering, there's a different sort of banter between them, one borne out of how alike they are rather than the "chalk and cheese" approach of the Second and Third Doctors, for example. There's an air of mutual respect between them, part chemistry and partly thanks to David Llewellyn's script, which means they pair nicely together, bouncing off of each other and cooperating for the most part. It's a different sort of multi-Doctor relationship, one that feels like a welcome breath of fresh air and might even be a better pairing than Tennant and Tom Baker.

And to face off against them comes arguably Doctor Who's other most popular foe. The Cybermen are tough to get right, easy to reduce to cannon fodder, or turn into logical creatures with illogical plans. As my fellow writer Tony Fyler observed some time ago, there's far more potential to them than that. And that is something that Llewellyn's script latches onto, especially in terms of reusing the "Cybermen have a human agent" trope familiar in stories dating back to Classic Who. Not to mention a plan that stretches across multiple time zones which gives these tyrants of logic a reason to be doing things in a piecemeal fashion for a change. Combined with Nicholas Briggs's expert recreations of the Invasion-era Cybermen voices (a personal favorite not only of Briggs and producer David Richardson but this reviewer, as well), and it's part of what seems to be a renaissance for the Cybermen on audio in recent years.

Backing them are the high standards you'd expect from Big Finish. The supporting cast is sparse but immensely effective, led by Mark Gatiss playing a Frenchman across multiple times in his life. Shelley Conn makes a welcome return to Big Finish playing a sassy Time Agent with shades of Chase Masterson, her character giving Vienna Salvatori a run for her money, and Glen McCready pulls out an impressive range of voices for various male characters. The sound design and score from Howard Carter are also a treat, especially the music, which manages to combine the electronic Radiophonic Workshop feel of the Davison era with the orchestral sensibilities of Tennant's. Together, they do a masterful job bringing the script to life.

And it's David Llewellyn's script that makes this a different animal from its predecessor. Out of Time 1, as good and fun as it was, was, in essence, a multi-Doctor romp. Out of Time 2 has a different flavor to it, one that makes it feel as though it could have potentially come out of a Steven Moffat penned episode for Tennant with its non-linear storytelling and time paradoxes (or should I say "pair of docs?"). It's also every bit as much a Parisian story as City of Death (which it humorously references in a couple of places), something further aided by Howard Carter's sound design. Ultimately, Llewellyn pens a cleverly told story here, one that makes the most out of not only the pairing of incarnation but also its villains and setting.

In the final analysis, Out of Time 2 takes its predecessor's success and turns it to 11 (or should I say 10?). It's a fun opportunity to have two Doctors back together, facing off against an old foe in a neat story, surrounded by a solid supporting cast and production values. In short, it's everything a good multi-Doctor adventure should be.

Doctor Who: Out of Time 2 - The Gates of Hell is available to buy from the Big Finish website until 31 August 2021, and on general sale after this date.

Matthew lives in North Alabama where he's a nerd, doesn't have a southern accent and isn't a Republican. He's a host of both the Big Finish centric Stories From The Vortex podcast and the 20mb Doctor Who Podcast. You can read more of his writing at his blog and at The Terrible Zodin fanzine, amongst other places.

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