Previously, Next Time

Posted in Audio by - January 22, 2023
Previously, Next Time

Released January 2023


Having written for both Doctor Who and Torchwood on television as well as for Big Finish’s Torchwood range, James Moran makes his feature-length Doctor Who audio debut with the finale to this fifth set of the Eighth Doctor’s Time War series, the two-part ‘Previously, Next Time.’ The Doctor, Cass, and Alex land on an uninhabited planet to determine what is causing temporal anomalies with the TARDIS that are refusing to let them lock on to any coordinates, but inside a mysterious factory they find a weapon that could destroy everything everyone has come to know throughout all of time and space.

The Time War saga is often at its best when the writers truly lean into the immense ambition and possibilities that a universe in which anything and everything can be in flux presents. Moran deftly amplifies the scope and scale of the Daleks’ latest plan to conclude this set, showing them cannibalizing a battle TARDIS to create a retcon bomb that will allow them to retroactively emerge victorious in each and every battle they have ever waged. The Doctor describes his own life as one big continuity error, but he is quick to point out just how devastatingly effectively this will prevent the Time War from ever developing given how utterly successful the Daleks will have been in achieving their goal of all-encompassing extermination and dominion with no resistance against them possible. Having the Daleks attempt to rewrite past failures and even the converse of having the Doctor fail with all of his previous successes are certainly themes that have been explored to various extents before, but this latest variation is a firm reminder of just how committed both the Time Lords and Daleks remain to finding an end to this war by whatever means possible and no matter the consequences and casulaties that may result.

However, when the Daleks decide to destroy the battle TARDIS upon realizing the Doctor plans to deactivate it, everything previously established here is called into question when the Doctor and his companions find themselves in the middle of a thriving culture and blamed and threatened with execution for the destruction of an important monument. As they try to discover what has happened while being forced to admit that their stories of what brought them here are hardly the most believable, they realize that not only have they been sent a year into the past with the Daleks’ arrival still imminent, but that their actions are indirectly responsible for this English-speaking civilization that is so laden in Dalek imagery despite no knowledge of them. The story doesn’t have a tremendous amount of time to truly build up the nuances of this society, but the distinct motivations driving individuals within it as they must decide whether to believe the visitors’ warnings and whether to look out for the greater good of the population at large presents an instantly relatable slice of reality that shows the best and worst of humanity in short order. Nadia Albina is a true standout as Oshia who decides to trust these strangers despite the audaciousness of their stories and distinct lack of proof to support anything they have said, Oshia becoming a testament to her people even when forced to confront the possibility that they may completely cease to exist when the Doctor again takes the fight to the Daleks upon their preordained arrival. Indeed, the Doctor knows all along that something has been missing from his life or memory, but the final climactic scenes with Oshia and then Cass that so abruptly moves this would-be time loop on from the immense character drama at its foundation is a chillingly brutal reminder of just how fluid memories and experiences can be as time continues to be written and rewritten.

Without question, ‘Previously, Next Time’ allows Paul McGann the most material to explore in this set, and he delivers a powerhouse performance as the Doctor must confront his ages-old enemies again and the very palpable repercussions his actions could have on this vibrant society. The Doctor tries to exude hope and optimism until the very end which makes the results all the more impactful, and the new trajectory and motivations he has for a future set are certainly tantalizing. Alongside him, Emma Campbell-Jones and Sonny McGann are superb as Cass and Alex, respectively, as both showcase their determination, empathy, and intuition, helping to create a true sense of camaraderie among this team that makes it feel like one that has been long established. While the story may tread on some familiar themes as Nicholas Briggs again creates a powerful and menacing Dalek presence, the focus on character and this one society amidst such a monumentally ambitious backdrop create a thrilling experience that ends Cass on an undoubted high.

This post was written by

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.