The Gates of Hell

Posted in Audio by - June 04, 2021
The Gates of Hell

Released June 2021

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Since Doctor Who’s relaunch in 2005, several episodes have featured the Doctor confronting the consequences and ghosts of his previous actions. However, 2007’s mini-episode ‘Time Crash’ represented something altogether different, bringing the Fifth Doctor directly into the Tenth Doctor’s TARDIS for a brief but emotional interlude that perfectly captured the two Doctors’ wholly distinct mannerisms while also firmly entrenching the two distinct eras as simply parts of a cohesive whole. With Peter Davison and David Tennant becoming all the more personally linked since then, it’s perhaps no surprise that their iconic characters should cross paths once more in David Llewellyn’s ‘Out of Time 2- The Gates of Hell.’

In 1809 Paris, the Fifth Doctor is touring the catacombs while searching for the source of a paradox, crossing paths with a Time Agent who is doing the same. Looking for a relaxing break, meanwhile, the Tenth Doctor instead finds himself in the middle of occupied Paris in 1944 and forced to hide from the Nazis in those same catacombs. As the two Doctors’ timelines inevitably collide, however, the resulting temporal catastrophe allows the Cybermen to assume dominion over the Earth, prompting the Doctors to find the temporal source of this invasion and to close the Gates of Hell.

With so many elements in play as Mark Gatiss’s Joseph Delon comes to prominently focus in multiple times, it’s unsurprising that the script relies quite heavily on expository dialogue throughout to set the many scenes and to ensure that the characters and listeners alike are kept apprised of the latest developments and thought processes. Because there is also little actual action to note even with the Cybermen a constant and oppressive presence, this does make the more complicated nature of the plot all the more prominent. Fortunately, the dialogue and energy deftly convey the needed information without every seeming cumbersome or obtrusive. Of course, Davison and Tennant are the primary sources of this information, and positioning the two Doctors as de facto companions and equals on a grand adventure through time is a brilliant variation of the multi-Doctor format that absolutely makes the best of each incarnation’s intelligence, shrewdness, and compassion. The Tenth Doctor showed due deference to his predecessor during their first meeting, and without overplaying the familial connection in any way, the script and performances perfectly highlight the mutual respect each incarnation has for the other and the truly fantastic chemistry that the two leads share. Doctors crossing paths is always immense fun and filled with nods to the past, but these two particular incarnations working together to discover the root cause of this issue and how best to set history on its proper course once more is a tremendous tease for an ongoing series just begging to be written.

With a relatively small supporting cast to bring the many times and locales to life, Shelley Conn, Mark Gatiss, and Glen McCready excel in creating a true sense of scale that is only enhanced by the suitably unsettling atmosphere that is so befitting of this story’s core. Conn as Time Agent Tina Drake, in particular, seems primed to make future appearances in Big Finish adventures, and her own sass and intelligence prove to be more than capable of standing alongside the two Doctors. Of course, no Cyberman story is complete without the voice of Nicholas Briggs, and here he expertly brings ‘The Invasion’-era foes to life vividly with heartless menace and with their ultimate success already achieved. The Fifth Doctor is in some respects defined by his adventures against the Cybermen given the momentous weight of ‘Earthshock’ on television and ‘Spare Parts’ on audio, and although this story doesn’t necessarily strive to reach the narrative highs of those tales and ends in a manner that is all too predictable, ‘Out of Time 2- The Gates of Hell’ is a thoroughly enjoyable outing that successfully blends two distinct eras of the franchise and that absolutely highlights the very best of two fan-favourite Doctors who share so very much in common.

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