Food Fight

Posted in Audio by - May 16, 2021
Food Fight

Released May 2021

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

As the threat of the Ravagers continues to grow, the Doctor and Nova have one final plan to enact to stop their continued spread and the resulting end of the universe as the first volume of The Ninth Doctor Adventures reaches its close in ‘Food Fight.’ Time is anything but linear, however, and this guilt-ridden Doctor must earn that trust can always be earned to emerge victorious.

With so many different elements to tie together to bring about a giant reset of sorts, writer and director Nicholas Briggs channels his inner Steven Moffatt to bring his convoluted tale to a momentous close. While it doesn’t succeed on all fronts with the return of the historical figures as the TARDIS follows DNA trails seeming more like a time filling mechanism despite their relevance to Nova’s heroic turn, ‘Food Fight’ wisely focuses on fewer locales than its predecessor to truly allow the relevant plot details to develop in what is easily the longest story of the set. As a result, this is a true showcase for Camilla Beeput and Jayne McKenna as the Doctor shows an implicit trust in Nova and learns that his first impressions and assumptions about Audrey could not be farther from the truth. The Ninth Doctor had such a brief tenure on screen in what proved to be his final days that there is still a tremendous amount to be learned about this incarnation, and the trust he puts into Nova to enact their plan to defeat the Ravagers is insightful and again proves his optimism and loyalty despite everything he has endured. Beeput is superb as Nova incisively puts together the pieces of the puzzle around her together, and her enthusiasm is infectious and continues to be a perfect match for Eccleston’s Doctor. Likewise, as apparitions of the Doctor continue to manifest around Audrey in segments that are comparatively garbled and more difficult to understand, McKenna is able to imbue a surprising sense of determination and conscientiousness to Audrey as her own best attempts to stop the Ravagers come to light despite the poor conditions they have resulted in for the surrounding society at large which the Doctor latched onto upon his arrival.

‘Food Fight’ doesn’t quite focus on the themes of the plight of the working class or of the necessity of escapism through entertainment as much as the first story suggested, but the Sphere continues to become a more developed and vivid world as Audrey’s own journey unfolds in multiple periods. The Doctor’s ultimate moment of sacrifice that results is also perfectly fitting of this incarnation, in particular, and Eccleston is pitch perfect throughout to definitively prove that the Ninth Doctor still has so much more to offer as these adventures continue. Unfortunately, the momentous climax that deftly brings together the knowledge and insight of Audrey and the Doctor comes off as a terrible disservice to Nova who has her own time with the Doctor wiped from her memory. From the start, this has been a series of three stories that is wholly unafraid to play with alternate timelines with certain experiences being erased, but the Doctor’s casual disregard for what has already happened is somewhat out of character and ultimately undoes so much of what had been achieved while making Nova herself another sacrifice but without any realization like Donna Noble when presented with a variation of the same fate. To his credit, the Doctor does go back to Nova as he makes good on his promise to her that she no longer remembers while also discovering just why she proved so adept at understanding the nuances of time travel, but the reset of Nova, in particular, is a disappointing note to end on despite the undoubted heroism of the Ninth Doctor that resulted in the process.

Ravagers is something of a messy affair when all is said and done, with many plot elements seeming ill-developed and ultimately getting little payoff. Even the titular Ravagers themselves are fairly unknown quantities and more of an existential threat until the end of the series nears. However, the elements that do work do so incredibly well, and the leading performances from Eccleston, Beeput, and McKenna are absolutely superb throughout. These stories certainly stand amongst the most ambitious the Ninth Doctor has yet encountered, and the development this incarnation has continued to undergo in a production so obviously filled with love for the character and the franchise is a brilliant tease at what still awaits this most engaging and yet unexplored of incarnations.

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