Monday, January 19, 2015

The Big Finale? - Neverland

When I talk about the Eighth Doctor, half the time I end up talking about the gap between Classic and New Who. He's the obvious point for that conversation. He's the nebulous Doctor. He exists as part of neither side, having popped up the first time they attempted a relaunch halfway between the two series. In fact what Big Finish as a whole represents is the middle ground, being the one of the main torch bearers during The Wilderness Years.

Usually when I do bring up the gap and audios I tend to talk about how much like New Who the audios were, years before RTD gave us the Ninth Doctor. Or Classic Who... maybe I haven't on that one, but something like 'Whispers of Terror' is very Classic Who.

Neverland is very much the embodiment of both.


On the one hand you have Charley whose story has slowly built up since “Storm Warning”, and revealed her to be the crisis point in Time. The very New Who standard of a season long arc that's hinted at, and a vague nod in passing that becomes more and more obvious the further down the rabbit hole you go.

The slow mentions of Zagreus slowly being built up into a Time Lord fairy tale, and I know I've missed half of them because Big Finish scattered them throughout all the Doctor productions. Then there's the character of Vansell. Introduced in “Sirens of Time” as an antagonistic CIA operative, and reappeared again in “The Apocalypse Element”, here he can quickly slot into the role of a Time Lord against the Doctor's suggestion without any messing about and lets us get on with the story.

Yet everything else of “Neverland” is very much Classic Who. It revels in the continuity of Gallifrey and Time Lords that New Who pretty much ignored right up until the 50th celebration. Romana being one the main players is hardly surprising. She was a companion after all, and one we've seen Big Finish team up with Six already. Having her now work with Eight isn't that outstanding, though she still is Lord President.

The Matrix gets a fair bit of showtime, and plays the same trippy role it did in “The Deadly Assassin” and “The Ultimate Foe”, and with no real explanation so if you haven't seen either of those you won't have a clue what's going on.

Finally there's Rassilon, which also gives us an explanation for the narration during “Seasons of Fear” and “Time of the Daleks”. Turns out Eight's having a bit of a chat with the Time Lord who founded the Time Lords and up to know has gone completely unrevealed just why the Doctor was going so in-depth to this person. It's a neat little trick too, because it means that we fill in a lot of blanks of this conversation, and the actual episode doesn't get bogged down in re-iterating previous episodes.

However, I'll admit I was worried with the appearance of Rassilon. Out of all of these, he is the one Classic component that has turned up in New Who under the guise of James Bond. Classic Who left him a disembodied figure laying in a tomb. New Who had him brought out of that to help with the Time War. So did the reveal that he'd actually been in the Anti-Time zone mean that with one story Big Finish accidentally de-canonise themselves (admittedly this is first, but TV trumps everything else)? Rassilon can't be here, because New Who is quite clear that he was brought back to try and defeat the Daleks. The answer wasn't really given. That part continues into the epic that hopefully is “Zagreus”.

“Neverland”, quite frankly, was amazing. It was everything I hoped and expected in “Zagreus”, so I'm pretty interested to see what the finale brings us.
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