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Three Time Lords for the Price of One!
on 2 September 2013
Back in the final, fading days of the last century, our good Doctor's brilliant flame was flickering down to its last embers. Briefly fanned by the TV movie in '96, it had been kept alive by books and an increasingly eclectic magazine. It looked like the TARDIS doors were soon going to close forever. And then came The Sirens of Time...
When I first heard this, back in 2000-2001, I found it to be a little confusing, with far more going on than I remembered in the series. Besides, Doctor Who was a visual thing, wasn't it? But time, and the Doctor, has moved on. Now, we hear the Doctor on radio and CD regularly, enjoying a modern series for a modern audience. So, it seems like a good time for a reassessment.
Clearly designed both to showcase and advertise these new productions, we are treated to three single episode adventures for the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors, all of which are entirely different, yet somehow similar. Each ends with a dramatic cliffhanger that seems to spell certain doom for our hero. They are all working alone, without the TARDIS or companion, at least almost: each gets a brief companion to apparently aid them. But are they all they seem? And just why are the Time Lords so keen to first contact, and then try to kill, the Doctor?
The fourth and final installment gives us all the answers, as all three find themselves having to work together to battle a foe as old as time, and just as fickle. But, will they all make it out I one piece?
The cast are clearly enjoying themselves with this story, in particular the Doctors, all of whom seem to settle into their roles with an ease that believe the passage of time. One can see each of them in the mind's eye exactly as they were all those years ago, tastless coat, tacky shirts and dreadful pullover all present and correct. The humour is there, as is the expected bickering, darkness and inspired lunacy.
The production itself is also very solid, sound design generally workng well, the script holding everything together, despite the occasional in-joke and aside throwing things off at a tangent. Presentation is slick and professional, again belying the apparent experience (or lack of) behind the microphone; in short, everything simply WORKS.
The Sirens of Time is not perfect, but it is a good indication of what was to come and was clearly a labour of love, a love that has been rewarded many times over, ever since.