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This review is from: The Next Life (Doctor Who) (Audio CD)
Doctor Who has often shirked one rather obvious consequence of travel in the Tardis: the sheer amount of death that is encountered. Even in the revived TV version, death is as often unremarked as it is unremarkable. Departing companions tend to dwell on how much fun they had, cheerfully ignoring how many people they had witnessed exterminated first hand.
With a few strokes of the pen, Alan Barnes and Gary Russell manage to redress the balance in this regard in what is one of the finest soliloquys the franchise has ever produced: Charley's "life and death on such a scale" speech on disc one of 'The Next Life'. Beautifully delivered and backed by Russell Stone's exceptional music from 'Faith Stealer', it is one of the most moving few minutes of Doctor Who I know of.
There is much else to admire: Paul McGann is (again) brilliant (and his banter with TV movie sparring partner Daphne Ashbrook is rather special), Stephane Cornicard makes for a marvellous villain and ERS do a wonderful job with the sound design, as well as mixing and matching music from previous stories to great effect. Charley revisiting the events prior to 'Storm Warning' is a lovely touch too, as is The Doctor's brinkmanship at the very end. So why not the full five stars?
'The Next Life' is let down by its tedious tying up of C'rizz's non-story. Conrad Westmaas does his best to fight through his miscasting, without ever succeeding, while Paul Darrow (as his dad) aims for 'sinister' but merely ends up with 'dreary'. One is constantly reminded that C'rizz's being there at all was a huge miscalculation and that time spent on fleshing out his back story was a narrative dead end.
Don't get me wrong: 'The Next Life' is really worth the money. Another epic, yes, and by no means a bad one, as long as one is prepared to put up with periodic lapses into the ordinary; its great moments, of which there are many, are enough to make it worth your while.