Enemy Aliens

Posted in Audio by - December 29, 2017
Enemy Aliens

Released August 2013

Along with the softening and refinement of the Sixth Doctor, the development of the Eighth Doctor whom had only been seen only once on screen and who otherwise lived in prose has arguably been Big Finish’s biggest achievement through its many years of crafting audio adventures for the Doctor throughout his many regenerations. Fittingly, the Eighth Doctor’s instalment in Destiny of the Doctor sees him reunited with his original audio companion, India Fisher’s Charlotte Pollard, for a previously-untold adventure that hearkens back to the breathless romanticism of the beginning of a thoroughly unexplored era as the two land in 1935 London after receiving a Time Lord distress call that sets them on the tail of a mysterious alien adversary and a far more sinister conspiracy than ever imagined.

Writer Alan Barnes clearly has a firm grasp on the early Eighth Doctor audio era, and the incessant eagerness to adventure as the Doctor dances around the TARDIS control panel and boldly throws himself squarely and publicly into the mystery is perfectly captured here. India Fisher wonderfully evokes the mannerisms of Paul McGann’s portrayal and manages to bring to life the very dynamic relationship that these two companions share with subtle inflections of her voice and solid narration. This is Charley far before the unrequited love angle overtook her character, and she easily proves once again how capable she is as she both follows and guides the many mysterious events to their conclusion in which she proactively proves her mettle during an opportunity to right wrongs as she so dearly desires. Barnes pulls no punches in subjecting Charley to a wide range of emotional circumstances as she is separated from the Doctor and then reunited in the most inauspicious of ways while the conspiracy slowly grows more prominent, and Fisher expertly and believably navigates and carries every scene from beginning to end.

‘Enemy Aliens’ thankfully begins to put the Eleventh Doctor’s plan into some sort of context as he admits that he has been trying to get messages to his former selves but finds them being blocked by something that is in his Eighth incarnation’s current vicinity. In a sense, the Eighth Doctor here thus provides the link between modern and classic eras just as his movie can be used as a bridge of sorts between the two times, a nod to this incarnation’s unique position in continuity whose one televised outing is further referenced with the importance of music to the plot, in this case Rossini’s William Tell Overture. A mothership ominously hanging above London and alien beings in the streets certainly evoke imagery of more modern stories in the franchise, but the double meaning of key words and the initial revelation of Germans as enemy aliens before showing a more otherworldly threat after all provide a superbly fitting dichotomy between the more subtle and more grandiose paths upon which the Doctor’s adventures take him.

While ‘Enemy Aliens’ may not be the most evenly-paced story, its ambience and atmosphere perfectly capture the many disparate locales on display. Bolstered by stunning characterization that India Fisher perfectly establishes and embellishes as needed, ‘Enemy Aliens’ is an enjoyable reminder of the more innocent and adventurous time aboard the Eighth Doctor’s TARDIS before the divergent universe revealed itself, a successful look back that now allows the Doctor’s future self to do the same.

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