We kick Season 2 of Big Finish's Eighth Doctor adventures with what might just be the most trippiest serial ever, and also the most suited to audio. Taking place almost immediately after the end of “Zagreus” we find the Doctor and Charlie in a new dimension, and it's not what you expect.
The Doctor's a jibbering mess, Charley's in-charge, but the Doctor ignores her because he left her in their original dimension. Oh, and that's pretty much it. Even the TARDIS disappears pretty quickly.
For an hour and a half we pretty much have the Doctor and Charley walking and talking. There is a monster, but it's a sound based one, and it's voice is sound clips it picks up from them. Of course all this puts a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of McGann and Fisher to deliver. And dear God do they!
McGann's wonderfully frightened and defeated Doctor who just doesn't know what to do, is both believable and heartbreaking. Fisher's frustration and own heartbreak is evident. Even better is that it’s not Charley that drags the Doctor back, the only thing that pulls the Doctor out of it is his own insatiable curiosity.
Then we get to the big matter. Back in “Neverland” Charley professed her love for the Doctor. And he reciprocated. Mainly because he pretty much thought he was going to die. Now we're in the next season and we have to deal with that. As I've already said they also have nothing to do but talk, which means we get an in-depth conversation about their love. Thankfully it's not all mushy. In fact it's pretty harsh, as McGann starts channelling that part of the Doctor that has given life to Peter Capaldi.
Charley’s convinced that their love will get them through it, but the Doctor is more angry at her. A lot of his decision to come to the Divergent Universe was because of the Zagreus energy, something he took on to save Charley. Which she then ignored and hid in the TARDIS, so obviously he’s not best pleased.
It takes the relationship in a more satisfactory direction, and believable for the Doctor. In a world where we’ve watched him try and cope with how he felt towards Rose, embracing Charley would just be a little too hard to believe. It also sets up an interesting dynamic for the future in the Divergent Universe. Here’s two people that expressed their love just as everything’s crashing down. One gives everything up for the other, but they ignore that, and now they’re stuck together.
Throughout I was reminded of the first episode of “The Mind Robber” with it's completely white Void, which we seem to be in. But “Scherzo” takes it further, going beyond what the BBC could create on a TV screen, with it's restrictions of having to actually see something. “Scherzo” is almost if that episode, and “The Whispers of Terror” had a baby. “Schezro” makes this new world properly devoid of any sensation other than sound, because that's all we have too. There's even a faint ringing throughout the episode just to put the listener on edge along with the Doctor and Charley.
And now we have the Doctor, abandoned on a new world, with just Charley for company, and no TARDIS. That last part makes me worry. It immediately brings to mind that other portion of Who continuity when there was no TARDIS. And we all know how I feel about that. So hopefully, it being McGann instead of Pertwee will help tremendously.