As the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who draws ever nearer, the BBC and Whovians alike are determined to celebrate in every way conceivable. Obviously, we're counting down to that fateful Day of the Doctor, but Big Finish & AudioGo seem equally determined to honour the Time Lord's history with the upcoming audio drama, The Light at the End, and with Destiny of the Doctor here.
Destiny of the Doctor is an 11-part series that's been going on since January this year, each chapter focusing accordingly on the Doctor's different incarnations i.e Part 1 William Hartnell, Part 2 Patrick Troughton, Part 3 John Pertwee and so on.
As I've said before in previous Doctor Who-related reviews, my favourite Doctor & Companion were No. 10 and Donna Noble (Catherine Tate). Their relationship & adventures made Series 4 my all-time favourite, and have always felt that at least another series could've been made with the Doctor & Donna. Ergo, I've always jumped at the chance to discover more stories of this wonderful pairing, hence my purchase of novels (i.e. Beautiful Chaos) and audiobooks (i.e. The Forever Trap), so I purchased Death's Deal and was not disappointed at all.
Death's Deal captures all the elements that made this particular of Doctor Who so endearing. The Series 4 theme music is used, the Tenth Doctor/Donna relationship (and characters) are written down to a tee, and the whole atmosphere of their adventure here is done in the spirit of Russell T Davies. Darren Jones has written an audio drama here that's most worthy of the original source material, and those who loved Series 4 will love this just as easily.
Still in the midst of their happy days, the Doctor & Donna land on the planet Death's Deal following a flood of distress calls. The TARDIS lands on a planet filled with terrifying creatures and a mishmashed bunch of alien tourists. The time-travellers soon uncover all kinds of ulterior motives, a sinister secret...and an important task the Doctor's future will depend on.
In the context of this Destiny of the Doctor series, Death's Deal works well indeed. If you pick up this particular CD and haven't picked up any of the previous entries, then you'll be fine. Death's Deal stands alone as a genuinely exciting tale that's laced with a splendid soundtrack, terrific sound effects and all the stuff you'd expect from a classic episode. It's so easy to visualise in your mind's eye that it's just like watching a lost episode from Series 4.
But it also seems to slot in well with the overall spectrum of this Destiny series. There's a big surprise mid-way through that makes this (seemingly) individual chapter integral to the whole saga. It's a welcome turning-point, one that feels natural and not in the least bit forced. As such, it makes me feel intrigued to check out other entries in this audio series.
Of course, Catherine Tate deserves props for reprising her role as beloved super-temp Donna Noble. She settles comfortably right back into her old role and performs with unchanged flourish. As she's proven in the past, Catherine is versatile in voicing the other characters so distinctly, and does a very good impersonation of David Tennant. Guest-star Duncan Wisbey is simply awesome as Crux, helping to make a colourful character even more so. Duncan is just wonderful, and when paired with Catherine, the two converse in such brilliant, heartfelt moments that make this all the more endearing.
Admittedly, this isn't the greatest Doctor Who audio outing I've ever experienced (Dan Abnett's The Forever Trap from 2008 is still my favourite), but Death's Deal is certainly very strong with very little wrong. On it's own, I love it, and yeah...I'm keen to check out other entries in the Destiny of the Doctor. Fans of the David/Catherine series will not be disappointed. For Who fans overall...very much worth purchasing.