Fond Farewell

Posted in Audio by - February 25, 2022
Fond Farewell

Released February 2022

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Believing himself to be the sole Time Lord survivor of the Time War, the Ninth Doctor is an incarnation who wears his heart on his sleeve, undoubtedly lonely and easily upset by what he sees around him but unable to resist inserting himself into situations to bring about change for the better. In the final box set of the first run of The Ninth Doctor Adventures, the Doctor intends to visit some of his old acquaintances, beginning at the funeral of naturalist Flynn Beckett in David K Barnes’s ‘Fond Farewell.’

Fond Farewell advertises itself as the funeral parlour with a difference, allowing the deceased to attend his or her own wake by implanting memories into an artificial construct that can last half a day in order to allow loved ones and friends to say goodbye one final time. The Doctor met Flynn and his assistant, Sasha, on a harrowing and successful adventure not long before this service during which Flynn revealed that he was suffering from an incurable disease that would result in his death within six months. When Flynn cannot remember the Doctor or Sasha at his own wake, however, it’s clear that Flynn is not quite the man he once was, and the Doctor is forced to wonder if perhaps Flynn was correct that there were nefarious entities out to ruin him.

What follows is a fairly basic and traditional story, but although the ideas of artificial intelligences gone wrong and of corporate overexertion are hardly new ones for Doctor Who to explore, ‘Fond Farewell’ does well to ensure that the story remains a very small and intimate one. The motivations behind Flynn’s missing memories are altogether more personal with no grand external force hoping to hide some vast secret, and the resulting discussions about morality and fidelity are deftly handled without ever becoming too overbearing. Indeed, while there are poignant conversations about just who an individual’s funeral is truly for and just what type of person would want to feature in an event such as this one, altogether more interesting is the discussion about just how anyone would choose to remember someone else if given the option. The questions surrounding the ability to either remember someone as they were- flaws and all- or to focus solely on the best moments and attributes are a fascinating test of morals, and Flynn’s own flaws from later in his life are certainly not shied away from as his wife is confronted with this very conundrum.

The story of this Old Friends set very prominently focuses on the Cybermen and the Brigadier, but although Flynn doesn’t quite meet the same standard as Lethbridge-Stewart, ‘Fond Farewell’ is certainly not a story that should be overlooked. It doesn’t try to do anything truly unique and certainly wraps up the emotional dilemma far too easily and quickly, but its confined setting and ultimately more intimate storyline despite the grandiose science fiction concept at its core make for an enjoyable experience from beginning to end. In many ways, this is the story that most closely approximates the Russell T Davies stylings of the 2005 series, and strong sound design paired with Christopher Eccleston’s energetic performance as the Doctor gives his all to discover the truth that he knows is hidden before him absolutely manage to immerse the audience in everything that made that year on television so memorable.

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