The Day of the Comet

Posted in Audio by - January 27, 2021
The Day of the Comet

Released January 2021

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

‘The Day of the Comet’ by Jonathan Morris brings the Doctor and Leela to the ruins of a grand city once teeming with life, earthquakes and an imminent comet impact driving the population towards a giant rocket on the side of a mountain. As rumours of the comet’s arrival occurring much sooner than publicly projected grow, however, only the Doctor can truly appreciate the true scale of the secrets being kept behind the scenes.

On its surface, ‘The Day of the Comet’ can be described as a cross between ‘Utopia’ and ‘The Fires of Pompeii’ as the Doctor insists that this society’s inevitable demise because of this astronomical event cannot be changed in any way even as the its individuals cling to every available hope that they can escape their apparent fate. Yet while the story by necessity reveals that the leaders have not been completely honest with their people, it’s a far darker conspiracy involving the Time Lords that elevates what might otherwise be a fairly traditional tale. The Tenth Doctor, in particular, became renowned for speaking about fixed points in time, but hearing the Fourth Doctor proclaim his own inability to help is a monumental shift for the character at this point in his lives and boldly hints at just how much he respects his own peoples’ decrees regardless of what he might say or do elsewhere. This particular population has an amazing ability that could fundamentally alter everything accepted to be true, and the ultimate fate of the advance ships and what is known to have occurred for these people perfectly if morosely highlight just how broadly interpreted a non-intervention policy can be.

The script does perhaps rely a little too liberally on the leader’s willingness to believe anything she is told from those purporting to be their uniquely-positioned saviours while also discounting anything said against them, but this exploitative plot neatly ties together the undying hope for survival despite ever-increasing odds and certainly brings out the very best and worst of human nature along the way. The fluctuating power dynamics between the leader, the rescuers, and the Doctor and Leela allow for an intriguing set of character studies that wonderfully encapsulate the various thoughts fueling the self-serving, the misguided, and the helpful in equal measure. This is very much a story of two halves as circumstances surrounding the chances of survival dramatically shift, but the tense desperation and guarded optimism that continue to poke through a very bleak backdrop as setbacks and dark truths become known provide a steadying force that sees the story through to its foretold conclusion.

Tom Baker gives an immensely nuanced performance that treads both traditionally heroic and atypically antagonistic territory incredibly well. Just as he carries the lighter and darker elements equally effectively, Louise Jameson wonderfully uses Leela’s own morality to further the narrative while further defining and refining both of these traveling companions. With Sophia Carr-Gomm, Jon Culshaw, Janet Henfrey, Joanna Hole, David Seddon, and Mandi Symonds all ably fleshing out the people and the many conflicts upon this world that an atmospheric sound design brings to life so well, ‘The Day of the Comet’ proves to be a standout success that- although perhaps not the most difficult to predict its narrative path- perfectly encapsulates the many facets of the Doctor and Leela when thrust into a very uniquely-poitioned society on the verge of total destruction.

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