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|By:||David Layton, Los Angeles, United States|
|Date:||Friday 4 May 2018|
|Rating: || 7|
"Dark Eyes 4" has the problems that plague productions of this kind: ending a story of epic sweep with a small cast. Matt Fitton and John Dorney, by now stalwart writers for Big Finish, were tasked with closing the story of Eminence, the Dalek Time Controller, and the corrupted time lines. In the end, we learn that the whole of "Dark Eyes" has more or less been Molly O'Sullivan's story all along. It begins with the best of the four stories, "A Life in the Day." This is a Doctor Who take on Ground Hog Day that would fit well in Steven Moffat's Doctor Who. It's function in the whole set is to reintroduce the Daleks to the story and to set the main rationale for the rest of the series - find the TARDIS. This moves us from 1920s London to 1920s Paris in "The Monster of Montmartre." Here, we get the Doctor Who take on "Moulin Rouge," with starving artists, disreputable customers, a bit of rearranged Debussy for soundtrack music, and a shady hostess at the place that has replaced the Moulin Rouge, The Red Pagoda. Next, the Doctor has to nip off forty years into the future to confront the Dalek Time Controller and The Master. Alex Macqueen has settled nicely into his bon vivant version of The Master, with both the actor and the character simply loving being The Master. Since "Master of the Daleks" is primarily a linking story, it has much action that does not add up to much. Also, it strangely leaves things behind. For instance, what was the device that Rastel so thought would free him from the Daleks? Molly hides it, and it is never mentioned again. Why make a big deal over something that is not used? Similarly, the Sontarans in general are underused, being there mostly to supply the Daleks with someone to fight whenever the plot needs it. The last story is "Eye of Darkness," which tries to tie up all the loose ends of the whole series. Unfortunately, just about the only thing that gets proper attention is the origin of the Eminence, and even with this it is handled with too much "it just is" logic. And, I'll say it again, the Eminence is a supremely boring foe. The real problem is the corrupted time line problem. At the end, all we are told, through a suitably worked up Dalek Supreme, is that the time lines are "shifting" again. I suppose we have to take it on trust that they are shifting to their proper place. As usual with Big Finish of the 2010s, the cast is superb. Sorcha Cusack makes a superb older Molly. Nicola Walker is uncannily convincing as Liv Chenka (and why hasn't the Doctor Who television series found a role for her, because wow is she good). To conclude, "Dark Eyes 4" feels like a bit of a rush job. It may not have been, but there was not quite the attention to detail that made earlier "Dark Eyes" series work as well as they did.