The Final Beginning

Posted in Audio by - July 09, 2022
The Final Beginning

Released July 2022

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

The Second Doctor era is one fondly remembered by fans, the brilliant characterization and friendships along with the bevy of unique alien threats ensuring that Doctor Who had a continued path onward even as its lead actors continued to change. However, as the Second Doctor continued to appear in future multi-Doctor stories with knowledge and acquisitions that didn’t quite mesh with what was shown on-screen during his own era, a theory that the Doctor’s forced regeneration and exile did not occur quite as immediately as assumed began to take hold. Indeed, to ensure continued publications while awaiting for Jon Pertwee’s arrival, the TV comic from this time explicitly set stories in this gap, but there was always a hint that the Doctor may be doing something more clandestine for the Time Lords and the Celestial Intervention Agency specifically, a fact that Terrance Dicks himself put into official BBC novelized lore. Now, as the Second Doctor finally receives his own exclusive range from Big Finish with Michael Troughton in the titular role, this narrative opening forms the premise for Beyond War Games, opening with ‘The Final Beginning’ by Mark Wright and Nicholas Briggs.

While Michael Troughton has already made his debut as the Second Doctor in ‘The Annihilators’ alongside Tim Treloar’s Third Doctor, ‘The Final Beginning’ is his first opportunity to anchor a story by himself, a feat he proves more than capable of accomplishing. With any recast Doctor, it is unfair to expect a tonally exact replication of the original actors, but Troughton wonderfully evokes the essence and cadence of his late father through a certain lightness of voice, insertion of inflection, and mischievous energy, proving that his casting is assuredly one that will continue to satisfy fans of the era and even those who have become so accustomed to Frazer Hines’s brilliant interpretation of the Second Doctor in The Companion Chronicles and The Early Adventures for Big Finish.

Believing he has escaped his change of appearance and exile, the Doctor finds himself without his TARDIS on a snowy alien world. Trying to discover where he is and how to escape, he soon allies with the young woman Raven who likewise finds herself trapped here and discovers from prospectors Silas and Catrona that this planet seemingly appeared out of nowhere as they looked for further locations to stake their claim. It’s a fairly basic setup that teases at the Doctor’s eventual fate, but it very effectively allows the supporting characters to flourish within the very short running time of each episode, Tim Treloar and Anna-Maria Nabirye sharing a remarkable chemistry that makes their partnership utterly believable and relatable as the danger around them continues to mount. Of course, it’s the duality of Raven that comes to drive this story forward as she comes to introduce the Celestial Intervention Agency to the Doctor and to explain that this organization is responsible for this opportunity for him to retain his own identity in exchange for undertaking assigned tasks with a modicum of individual freedom. This is naturally an offer the Doctor cannot refuse given his earlier proclamation that there are evils in the universe that need to be fought, and though he does not know exactly what he has signed up for in the long run, this is certainly a concise and effective introduction to his new existence. Emma Noakes is effectively ethereal and haughty as the Time Lords of this era were portrayed, and while at times this does almost encroach on an air of indifference, it’s suitable for the role of what is sure to be a recurring character and creates an interesting dynamic as the Doctor finds himself in the middle of a mission to rescue a Time Lord who went missing in action while performing reconnaissance on the Daleks.

Surprisingly, ‘The Final Beginning’ serves as something of a sequel to ‘The Evil of the Daleks,’ this mysterious world being a dead Skaro in the aftermath of that epic confrontation. A world phasing in and out of sync with the universe is a brilliant backdrop, and Nicholas Briggs is- as always- magnificent as the different iterations of the Daleks who are just as ruthlessly determined as ever while they attempt to regain their foothold in the universe. Again, the very brief running time doesn’t allow for the fullest exploration of the Daleks in this situation, but each moment is utilized to its fullest and creates an engaging second half that again reaffirms the merit in the Doctor’s proclamations during his trial. This isn’t a story that necessarily tries to be revolutionary by any means, but it allows this new interpretation of the Second Doctor as well as each of its supporting characters to shine while deftly introducing season 6B to new and established audiences alike.

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