A Storm of Angels

Posted in Audio by - November 03, 2018
A Storm of Angels

Released January 2005

Revisiting the alternative and impactful first incarnation of the Doctor introduced in Unbound’s premiere ‘Auld Mortality,’ Marc Platt’s ‘A Storm of Angels’ takes him into the universe at large, a universe with an Earth that seems to be veering off its historical course as Leonardo da Vinci visits the stars in 1480, Vasco de Gama steps on Mars in 1508, and Francis Drake begins charting the asteroid belt in 1585. With the temporal agent Zeuro on his tail, Susan ailing and becoming weaker by the moment, and both Gloriana and the President of Gallifrey deeply unamused, the Doctor finds himself in a race to find the truth while surrounded by unrelenting greed and pride.

Geoffrey Bayldon excels in every moment as the Doctor, bringing forth an unbridled enthusiasm for exploration while trying his best to avoid his past, surpassing even the darker moments of the similarly-pitched William Hartnell First Doctor when he proves willing to murder to stay out of reach of anything related to his own race. This is a man who cannot sit idly by while others make important decisions, and the accounts of him visiting the likes of Elvis while earning the respect of the Daleks hints at the untold adventures that have continued to fuel his courageous and exploratory nature before his TARDIS runs out of power after an audacious manoeuvre to avoid temporal pursuit. Fittingly, though, this is also a man who has never and will never truly be able to achieve what he hopes, and the Susan he is traveling with is a creation of his possibility chamber using his own memories as a template, always providing him with an anchor to his own past as he continues to explore new horizons and creating a fascinating look at the inner workings of this complex individual.

Surprisingly, the true Susan on Gallifrey is currently President as hinted at in ‘Auld Mortality,’ and she has spent her tenure covering up the trail of change that her grandfather has left in his wake. She has come to regret not leaving with the Doctor when offered the opportunity, a situation intriguingly rectified by story’s end, and Carole Ann Ford does exceedingly well to differentiate this more hardened version of Susan from the more naïve facsimile who believes that her grandfather and she are simply helping people in need without meddling in established events. Of course, the evocative notion of da Vinci and Drake traversing the stars in steam-powered spaceships after da Vinci saw what was possible with the Doctor and ran wild with ideas proves just how incorrect the traveling Susan is, and the Doctor instead assuming they have traveled to an alternate reality rather than accept any blame for this travesty of history is a strong moment of characterisation in a story filled with them. With these historical figures navigating the cosmos via astrology and a peculiar obsidian mirror, the titular angels who guide the universe as it turns prove their august power in some visually thrilling and bombastic moments.

The supporting cast headed by Kate Brown’s Queen Elizabeth I and Cameron Stewart’s Francis Drake is uniformly excellent and manages to capture a spirit of the original historical times with certain mannerisms and thoughts that meshes very well with the more advanced reality in which they exist here. Though neither knows that the Earth empire is in danger of imminent collapse rather than existing for millennia as it should, the splendour and pomp of royalty remains present as treasures collected from afar and the thoughts contained within are fiercely protected and proudly presented despite the Doctor’s continuing protestations. ‘A Storm of Angels’ is an ethereal fairy tale filled with surprises from beginning to end as mysticisim and science compete, and the immense imagery, emotional performances, and strong production values make this a beguiling experience that makes the most of ‘Auld Mortality’ to further tease at an immense future for this TARDIS duo.

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