Fallen Angels

Posted in Audio by - July 29, 2016
Fallen Angels

Released July 2016

Big Finish begins a new undertaking with its Classic Doctors, New Monsters Volume One set, a collection of four stories that sees the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth incarnations of the Doctor meet up with foes (or variations of in the case of the Sontarans) only introduced on screen since the programme’s revival in 2005. Arguably the most successful of these villains are the Weeping Angels, and it’s they who Peter Davison’s Fifth Doctor must confront in the first story, ‘Fallen Angels.’

The Weeping Angels are perhaps the epitome of a villain who needs the visual medium to fully shine given how instantaneously they move and change expressions, and so Big Finish had the monumental task of transitioning that visceral and visual threat into the audio medium. To the credit of ‘Fallen Angels,’ the descriptive and emotional dialogue paired with stellar audio cues does as well as can be expected, but the Angels are a bit more in the background and are simply talked about more than on television, perhaps as an acknowledgment that less is more is the best approach with them in the audio format. Additionally, while this is no fault of the script itself or what Big Finish is trying to accomplish, there is clearly an assumption that the listening audience is very familiar with these creatures. While the Doctor does give a cursory explanation of who the Angels are and what they do, a massive amount summary information is summarized in a very short period of time before carrying on with the plot.

As for the story itself, the inclusion of the Weeping Angels affords writer Phil Mulryne the opportunity to employ temporal components, which he does so wonderfully without becoming too complex. The story begins with a newlywed couple in 2015 Rome, Sacha Dhawan’s Joel and Diane Morgan’s Gabby exploring the Sistine Chapel when they notice that half of the ceiling is missing and unfinished. Here they come upon the Doctor who informs them that Michelangelo and other artists have been taken out of time before their time, verbally nudging them in the direction of a Weeping Angel which sends them back 1511. Here they come upon the Fifth Doctor once more, though this version has no knowledge of them or the events of 2015, and together they search for the truth behind a mysterious religious group and a peculiar statue that Michelangelo has been commissioned to complete. Of course, the means by which the Angels are being discovered within Rome’s catacombs and the apparent hold they have over humans both combine to add a frightening extra layer to their story and certainly set up the potential for a similar premise anywhere and everywhere in the universe.

Despite some necessary clunky lines to help explain what is happening with the angels and a speech from the Doctor quite reminiscent of one in ‘Blink,’ ‘Fallen Angels’ proves that even the most visual of threats can make a proper audio menace as well. The tense atmosphere and sense of urgency that pervade the story from the beginning to the very heartfelt and satisfying end are fantastic, and what could have been a story that crumbled under expectations instead flourishes to become something rather special, a splendid start to this new undertaking.

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