The Fourth Doctor is probably the most popular Doctor from the classic era of Doctor Who. Similarly, the Tenth Doctor is probably the most popular of the modern era. So, it only makes sense that Big Finish, who has the license to make audios with all Doctors but the 13th, would finally make an audio drama where these two beloved incarnations meet. The result? Out of Time, the first in a series of audios pairing classic Doctors with the Tenth Doctor. Written by Matt Fitton, Out of Time is a fun romp with two fan-favorite Doctors. Featuring great performances from Tom Baker and David Tennant and a fun and intriguing plot, it’s a great listen for all Doctor Who fans. (4 out of 5 wands.)
(NOTE: This review may contain spoilers. Read at your own risk.)
Doctor Who: Out of Time 1 (written by Matt Fitton, directed by Nicholas Briggs)
The Cathedral of Contemplation is an enigma, existing outside time. It turns through history, opening its doors across the universe to offer solace to those in need.
Occasionally, the Doctor drops in – when he’s avoiding his destiny, it’s an ideal place to get some perspective. Only this time he’s already there from several lives earlier, so when dimension barriers break down, his past and present collide.
And when the Daleks invade and commandeer the Cathedral, two Doctors (Tom Baker and David Tennant) must unite to stop them – or face extermination twice over!
Out of Time finds a post-Waters of Mars Tenth Doctor visiting the Cathedral of Contemplation, a sort of sanctuary that exists outside of space and time, reflecting on his recent actions in Waters of Mars and avoiding his future. There, he accidentally encounters the Fourth Doctor, fresh after the departure of one of his companions, who has sought the tranquility of the cathedral to meditate and paint. Soon after, soldiers from a future war arrive in search of a missing soldier, upending the Doctors’ search for peace and bringing the Daleks behind them.
Honestly, I’m at a phase where I’m kind of tired of Dalek stories. They’re a lot of fun in moderation, but it seems like various Doctor Who spinoff material has been relying on them more and more lately. They’re a great villain, but there’s only so much you can do with them. For the first third of the story, or so, Out of Time was surprisingly introspective. It was nice hearing these two Doctors reflect on their recent experiences. One of the joys of multi-Doctor stories is getting that kind of reflection as the multiple incarnations of the Doctor see through each other’s walls and emotional barriers. I was enjoying this aspect so much that I was a bit disappointed when the Daleks turned up.
Now, to be fair, there’s nothing wrong with how the Daleks are used in the story, nor do they worsen the narrative in any real way. However, nothing particularly new was done with them either, so it’s just kind of another old Dalek story. I can’t help wishing they weren’t in this story. Once they arrive, the whole thing devolves into a pretty standard Dalek story. The Daleks want to take over the Cathedral and use its ability to appear anywhere and anywhen in time and space to conquer the universe. And, naturally, the Doctors must stop them. There are the requisite twists and turns throughout, keeping listeners on their toes as to exactly what is going on. And it’s a fun listen with a well-executed adventure. But I can’t help but wish for a story between these two Doctors that could have been as introspective throughout its whole runtime as this one was for its first third. And having the Daleks appear in the story just sort of ruins that introspection.
Still, there is a lot of fun to be had in listening to David Tennant and Tom Baker interact. These are two fan-favorite actors playing fan-favorite Doctors, and their chemistry is palpable. The pair bounce off one another as if they’ve been performing together for years. There’s something interesting about the pairing of these two Doctors at this time in their respective lives. Both are in melancholy states of mind, with Ten fresh from his whole Time Lord Victorious thing in Waters of Mars and Four fresh from an adventure on Gallifrey after the departure of one of his companions. Hearing these two Doctors compare and contrast their respective experiences and traumas is my favorite element of the story, and I wish there was more of it.
All in all, Doctor Who: Out of Time is a fun adventure with two fan-favorite Doctors. With a solid script from Matt Fitton, great direction from Nicholas Briggs, and excellent sound design from Howard Carter, Out of Time is a delightful listen from start to finish. David Tennant and Tom Baker shine the brightest with their fantastic chemistry, but the rest of the cast holds their own. The story is fun enough, even if I’m kind of tired of Daleks stories and wish the whole narrative could have been as introspective as its first third. Still, it’s a satisfying and enjoyable listen for all Doctor Who fans and it’s even gotten me more excited to see and hear more of this post-Waters of Mars Tenth Doctor l in the upcoming Time Lord Victorious crossover. So, I definitely recommend this.
4 out of 5 wands.