The Eleven

Posted in Audio by - December 03, 2018
The Eleven

Released October 2015

Following the successful experiment of converting the four-story Dark Eyes saga into a sixteen-story epic, Big Finish looks to continue the broader scope of interlinked adventures for the Eighth Doctor in Doom Coalition as nefarious forces mount and the Doctor and universe are threatened like never before.

Beginning Doom Coalition 1 is Matt Fitton’s ‘The Eleven’ which marvelously introduces one of the most exciting villains the franchise has ever seen in the eponymous The Eleven, a Time Lord whose ten previous personalities persist within his mind and continue to plot and argue for supremacy. Following a fantastic prologue in which the Seventh Doctor helps to apprehend and imprison this dangerous foe as the Eleven insists that his inevitable escape will be as easy as child’s play, the Eighth Doctor is recalled to Gallifrey when that ominous pledge is proven correct. Mark Bonnar makes an instant impact as he flits among his character’s incarnations and gives each one a distinct voice and energy with the eighth incarnation the only one to break from the pattern of deadly lunacy that pervades all of the others, creating a genuinely unnerving foe who provides an intriguing parallel for the Doctor as he seeks to escape Gallifrey by following his very famous footsteps.

The decision to use a student doing research into the psyche of this criminal who has destroyed armies and worlds is a wonderful means of gaining insight into the true danger of this man, and his means of escape proves just how powerful he is with his ability to channel specific skills and techniques earlier incarnations have mastered while exploiting the haughtiness of the Time Lords perfectly. As he leads the Doctor and his cohorts around in circles by leaving distractions and red herrings in his wake, the only aspect of the story that doesn’t quite ring true is his use of a Gallifreyan quirk of law that has never been mentioned or exploited before, even within the seminal Gallifrey audio series that in its early days focused so prodigiously on the internal politics of this world. As it stands, the Eleven’s first incarnation was at one point elevated to a High Council position when simple numbers were needed to pass routine legislation, and this gives him the right to claim the Presidency unchallenged with President Romana away working on relationships with other temporal powers. While this claim does lead to some nice nods to the franchise’s past on this planet as the Eleven works his way toward his goal, this glaring hole in statute is a means to reach an end that doesn’t quite sit right even as he proves willing to use the frightening power of the full arsenal of the Time Lords without second thought.

To this point, Liv presents another nice medium through which to explore the Eleven since she has spent so much time with the Master already. Through her biology and intellect, she quickly proves her worth to the Time Lords around her who are so quick to dismiss her as a lesser being, and Nicola Walker continues to excel now that Liv is more comfortable with the dangerous lifestyle the Doctor leads away from the Dalek occupation that had so drained her. Fittingly, she proclaims that Gallifrey is a bit too calm for her given what she has experienced before even as the Doctor is once more put at gunpoint upon arriving, and the wonderful chemistry an energized Paul McGann and invested Walker now share hints at a glorious continuing relationship as the Doctor heads out into the universe to stop whatever evil scheme this dark mirror of himself that the Eleven represents has planned.

‘The Eleven’ is by necessity filled with exposition without much payoff, but as an introductory story to this sixteen-story epic it succeeds on almost every front. The Eleven is a beguiling figure filled with so much potential for lasting greatness, and the Gallifrey presented here is likewise a dark and tense world that brings back some of the intrigue that ‘The War Games’ and ‘The Deadly Assassin’ initially presented. With satisfying twists throughout, the bar has been set incredibly high for the remaining tales, and the threat of an unfettered Eleven who has made such an impact in such a short time is a captivating hook.

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