Auld Lang Syne

Posted in Audio by - May 08, 2022
Auld Lang Syne

Released May 2022

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Back to Earth draws to a close with Tim Foley’s ‘Auld Lang Syne’ as Mandy Litherland capitalizes on some good fortune to gather the family at Foulds House to see in the New Year. Meeting an enigmatic caretaker who claims that the house is only on the market this one day each year, Mandy soon discovers that this truly is the time of year both to reflect on what has occurred before and to resolve to look ahead to what might be.

The Russell T Davies era of Doctor Who is rightfully celebrated for its willingness to and insistence on bringing family and the unique dynamics and drama of family to the forefront. This ability to keep even the most fantastical story grounded with one foot firmly in reality ensured that any viewer could remain invested while also further defining this incarnation of the Doctor who is so deeply scarred following the Time War and who is seeking to find atonement and a place in this new universe. More than any other entry in The Ninth Doctor Adventures to date, ‘Auld Lang Syne’ captures that duality of storytelling perfectly which is all the more impressive without a cast of recurring characters to draw upon to lay the foundation for further exploration in the future. Mandy’s family is vibrant and emotional, and while they are not above squabbling and bickering over small details and items, the optimism at the heart of coming together once yearly for what becomes a tradition of the Doctor’s making creates a heartfelt foundation for this story that truly celebrates the importance and power of family both in the immediate and abstract sense.

In this house that has a decidedly unknown origin, it’s no wonder that Mandy should become enraptured by the mysterious Doctor who so kindly welcomes her family into this home but who mysteriously intimates that something far more bizarre than a simple getaway complete with a fireworks show is at hand. This is the Ninth Doctor at his most charming and enigmatic, and Christopher Eccleston amplifies his typical zeal to truly show a Doctor wholly in his element. He is more than willing to trust a relative stranger who shows ambition and a willingness to believe and trust him even if he refuses to provide all of the information, and the inspiration and hope he instills in those around him is infectious and a testament to the character as a whole in every iteration. Eccleston and Leah Brotherhead quickly create a mesmerizing chemistry that allows the narrative filled with mysterious windows through time and the frightening lady of the house to unfold and develop naturally, and Mandy taking the slow path on this one day yearly while trying to cling to these furtive interactions with the Doctor who is taking a very different and non-linear path is another brilliant narrative device that amplifies the mystery at hand while making Many all the more dynamic and relatable.

Too often, stories collapse under their own weight as they begin to explain the science fiction element at their core, but Foley impressively and deftly keeps the secrets of this house intimately tied to Mandy’s family at several points. An imprint has rarely seemed so strong, and the power of love is a prevailing theme that becomes all the more prescient and influential as the story progresses. The optimism at this story’s core intuitively balances out the profound sadness that any life lived must entail, and an incredibly poignant and emotional scene at the end is a fitting reminder of the inevitability of time and the impact of any singular individual. ‘Auld Lang Syne’ is an incredibly intelligent and evocative script aided by brilliant music and profound supporting performances from Wendy Craig, Hayley Tamaddon, and Greig Johnson, and it fully respects its audience’s intelligence as it continues to peel back the layers of its mystery through Mandy’s eyes. As an homage to Russell T Davies’s style and as a Doctor Who story in general, this is peak science fiction in every respect and an incredible high on which to conclude this latest series of The Ninth Doctor Adventures.

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