Immortal Beloved

Posted in Audio by - August 17, 2017
Immortal Beloved

Released April 2007

The Doctor continues his attempts to return Lucie Miller home despite the presence of the Time Lords’ shield in the vortex, arriving at what appears to be ancient Greece. But after interrupting a pair of star-crossed lovers committed to the ultimate sacrifice to ensure their undying love, the two soon find that the powers of this strange place are much more mechanical and much less godlike than it initially seems.

The setting for ‘Immortal Beloved’ is an inspired one, the imagery of a civilization modelled after Greece naturally enhancing the drama of the living gods within it. Yet what could have still become a rather straightforward story about technology masquerading as divine and superhuman powers for those controlling it is given a startlingly emotional backdrop as it is revealed that these false gods retain their immortality by physically transferring their consciousness into clones who must sacrifice their own personalities and lives in the process. With the process and its ancient machine slowly going wrong through the generations and so many lives being thrown away to continue those of a few, the Doctor naturally has no qualms about trying to bring about an end to this barbaric ritual.

Interestingly, despite the inclusion of what essentially amounts to murder to extend their lives, the gods of this story are hardly presented as straightforward villains. Ian McNeice and Elspet Gray do exceptional work here as Zeus and Hera, and they are able to present their own story of eternal love in such a manner that their actions seem natural and even logical given their circumstances, an argument that even manages to make Lucie pause and reconsider her own cause . Of course, the arguments of their clones who are beginning to break from an eternity of tradition as they experience individuality and doubts about their fates forms the perfect counterbalance as a desire for tradition and a desire for a new beginning collide spectacularly.

The Doctor here is very much more in line with the combative version seen in the two-part opener than the more casual version seen in ‘Horror of Glam Rock,’ and Paul McGann continues to impress as his Doctor is confronted with a variety of challenges and injustices, here brimming with confidence and proving more than able to stand up to the commanding presences of would-be gods. And although Sheridan Smith gives another arresting performance as Lucie Miller, it will be intriguing to see where her storyline progresses since she seems much less trusting of the Doctor than before even as her personal sense of moral righteousness is put to the test when she is confronted with the possibility of being cloned endlessly for Zeus’s pleasure, eventually showing that she is even willing to destroy the TARDIS if it means that the Doctor will not be able to help Zeus.

The condensed running time does mean that the ending needs about five more minutes to develop and to not feel quite as rushed with so little true buildup, but the remainder of the story is perfectly-paced with plenty of emotion and action. Big Finish’s typical strong production values again shine through with excellent production and sound design, and ‘Immortal Beloved’ as an entire package is certainly a strong entry into the burgeoning The Eighth Doctor Adventures range.

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