Blood of the Time Lords

Posted in Audio by - March 18, 2022
Blood of the Time Lords

Released March 2022

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Alone in the aftermath of ‘The Deadly Assassin,’ the Fourth Doctor travels to the monastery-like Recusary on a moon of Gallifrey to find out more about The Dischord Grimoire that is purported to be able to alter time itself. Something else has chosen the same time to visit this infinite library, however, and all of creation is at stake in Timoty X Atack’s ‘Blood of the Time Lords.’

While delving into some of the nuances of Time Lord society and culture, Atack quickly builds an evocative setting that offers almost limitless potential. A vast library in which not only books but also Gallifreyans are going missing offers plenty of storytelling opportunities, and the Doctor soon finds himself on the wrong side of suspicions as the outsider who has arrived just as these occurrences become public knowledge. Unfortunately, even trusted means of revealing the truth are anything but assured and reliable, and when an easy solution is needed to provide closure to these affairs, facts take a secondary position to convenience when confessions that are hardly genuine are accepted at face value. Within this context, Annette Badland is brilliant as the confident and ruthless Eminent Sedanya who has her own history with the Doctor from so very long ago, and her callous willingness to accept any supposed truth reported to her without daring to look any deeper continues to present a powerful force against which the Doctor must constantly work by any means necessary.

Naturally, the Doctor is shrewd enough to see beyond the immediate threat that these acts of destruction present, and he realizes that the collected knowledge from certain tomes and individuals is clearly part of a much larger and more calculated plan. The story does start out a bit awkwardly with the Doctor talking to himself in order to set the scene, but Tom Baker is truly magnificent at each step of the way as his Doctor is truly tested physically and mentally throughout as both he and his good friend Ansillon come into Sendaya’s focus. At the Doctor’s side, Emma Noakes makes an instant impact as one-off companion Elanora who is eager to uncover the truth plaguing the locale to which she has dedicated so much of her young life. She is highly capable and intelligent, and her ability to see discrepancies in the truths presented to her paint a far more flattering picture of Time Lord society than the Doctor often encounters and creates a highly engaging presence at each step of the way.

Given this story’s setting after ‘The Deadly Assassin,’ the Doctor confronting another incarnation of the Master once all disguises and pretenses are dropped allows for an incredibly dramatic and emotional plot to unfold. Of course, James Dreyfus has recently come into spotlight for all of the wrong reasons which in all likelihood means that ‘Blood of the Time Lords’ recorded in 2017 will be the last to feature his incarnation, but that does not take anything away from the actual characterization and performance which are the strongest for this enemy to date. The Master’s childhood friendship with the Doctor is a crucial element to the Master’s scheme here in which he seeks literal godhood via the ability to change all of creation around him at a whim, and Dreyfus plays this forceful and remorseless iteration with a subdued yet unmistakably malevolent power. Unfortunately, the shortcomings in the Master’s plans are all too predictable and the resolution too quick to come about after so much buildup, but Atack is certainly a writer who knows how to best utilize the Master both overtly and covertly to drive the story forward at a brisk pace even while navigating the many false starts that the investigation upon the Recusary seems to take.

The Fourth Doctor rarely has the opportunity to headline a story by himself, but Tom Baker delivers a powerhouse performance that brings out everything that is so beloved about this particular incarnation. With a strong complementary cast of supporting characters and a dynamic villainous front that presents genuine challenges to the Doctor who is so used to being in control and changing events around himself for the better, ‘Blood of the Time Lords’ is a very strong opener to this Solo series that perfectly captures the tone and sounds of its intended era while expertly integrating more modern elements.

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