The Last Day Part One

Posted in Audio by - January 04, 2024
The Last Day Part One

Released December 2023


Of all of the Doctor’s many incarnations, the Seventh Doctor is unquestionably the most morally complex, often willing to use and play games with those around him to advance his furtive agenda ostensibly built upon a foundation of good intentions. In the first half of a two-release, twelve-part epic celebrating the multifaceted life of Sylvester McCoy’s beloved iteration, The Last Day Part One by Matt Fitton and Guy Adams takes the Doctor’s darker and more manipulative thoughts and actions to their extreme, bringing forth the question of whether the ends truly justify the means when he takes a stand to put things right once and for all.

Without knowing how events in these first six episodes will ultimately pay off, it’s difficult to fully assess how meaningful or consequential the expositionary nature of this release will be. The biggest problem is that, because of the expanded cast of characters that requires a fairly expansive knowledge of the Seventh Doctor’s televised and audio stories, there’s no real sense of cohesion or momentum as the plot skips around within an altered timeline that- at worst- will render everything here all but irrelevant. Strangely, this begins with the Doctor all but absent from the first two episodes as heroic and villainous figures are introduced, collected, and positioned mostly through the journeys of Ace. Yet as thrilling as appearances from Melanie Bush, Bernice Summerfield, Hex Schofield, and the Master are, nothing truly meaningful is done with them initially as the tenuous plot continues to jump around. This is exacerbated as lesser-know figures such as the harsh Iceworld ruler Kane from the televised ‘Dragonfire,’ the money-driven and weapons-dealing Garundel from audio stories such as ‘Black and White’ and ‘Starlight Robbery,’ the bitter and domineering Mother who revealed in the Third Doctor audio adventure ‘The Transcendence of Ephros’ that she once traveled with the Master and lost her vision when he tried to kill her, and the emotional and vindictive robot Hob who originated in comic stories and featured in Big Finish’s ‘The Quantum Possibility Engine’ are sure to leave many casual fans wondering who these characters even are given the lack of explanation or background information offered and many hard-core fans wondering just what their purpose is since little plot advancement is made even when many of them come together with the intention of bringing down the Doctor who has installed himself as the leader of the universe built in his vision.

Of course, Hex would come to have an increasingly dramatic connection to many figures within the Doctor’s lives, and fans of his time aboard the TARDIS and of the Forge storyline in particular will assuredly rejoice with the return of Lysandra Aristedes and Sally Morgan as well as the introduction of Cassie who ensures Cassandra Schofield’s lasting legacy. Of course, with so many characters in general, there again is little time to fully delve into the long history of these ones, a factor that the script tries to gloss over by having them fail to remember their association with the Doctor. The balance between military and family life continues to challenge Sally, and Hex proves himself to be a completely dedicated and protective father as a school trip brings him face to face with Earth’s president D McShane who is furtively in contact with the Doctor in this 2040s world that is admittedly not as it should be, but the dreams that Hex has been having about the Doctor and Ace as well as the memories that both a younger and older Ace individually attempt to draw forth have no bearing on the plot to this point. At the very least, while Cassie proves vital to McShane’s mysterious plans, it does yield a wholly effective cliffhanger in which she is forced to decide which of her parents will be allowed to survive.

Conversely, the storyline in which Benny and Mel search for the famed quantum possibility engine that can shape reality and that even the Time Lords feared falters because there is far too little setup for their unlikely teamup with memories again missing; Hob is also far too obscure to make the impact needed, a fact illustrated by even the two heroines asking who he is. It seems inevitable that both this engine as well as the reality diffuser device that the presidential Ace can use to alter thoughts and beliefs of those around her as she insists that she is the good guy will be of paramount importance in the second half of this sprawling tale, but only the briefest teases of their power are given here. Having the Sontarans seemingly in position to assume control of Earth is a rather more effective tantalizing tease, but like the deaths of Benny, Lysandra, and even bounty hunter Vienna just moments after she is reintroduced, the actual impact of these events and revelations within this altered universe remains in doubt even as the danger of the mysterious Dark Citizens is affirmed.

At the very least, the performances and sound design are uniformly strong, and hearing so many familiar voices is certainly a treat even if the plot to this point has a fairly disjointed and meandering feel to it. Naturally, the story is at its strongest when the Doctor is actually involved, but this is only truly in three of the six episodes. McCoy plays the darker elements of his character exceedingly well, and having the Doctor give in to his desire to right all wrongs in the universe even if it means sacrificing countless lives to do so is a brilliant path to take him down given the assemblage of figures assumedly amassing to fight back. While it likely would have been far more effective to actually tell this story from the Doctor’s perspective rather than delivering pieces of information so disjointedly, there’s still an immense amount of potential for the remaining episodes now that the substantial volume of exposition that is strangely still so lacking in certain elements has hopefully reached its endpoint. If this is truly the Seventh Doctor’s last day as marketing has seemed to suggest, it’s a brave and exciting decision to potentially put him into a more villainous role while past villains take on a more heroic role against him, and though this release is something of a misfire given choices with characters and structure with so much missing information, it is intriguing enough in its conceit for fans who truly know their Big Finish releases to at least give a chance due to the potential payoff coming in six months.

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