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Reviews for The Next Life

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The Last Legs

By:Phil Ince, Highbury, London
Date:Friday 7 January 2005
Rating:   4

Incoherent anthology of intentions for a story arc which the manufacturers decided to cut short in the light of the 9th Doctor's casting. Daphne Ashbrook is terrific and works wonderfully with McGann but the rest is only partly worked out, contradictory and far from self-explnatory. A real shame ... but no worse than the other post-Zagreus entries (barring Scherzo and natural History). Long-winded bollocks.

Average - could do better

By:Clive Wright, Jersey
Date:Saturday 22 January 2005
Rating:   5

The first few minutes are good but quickly turns into a re-hash of the others before it (not someone controlling my mind again). The story is basically weak, with little or no atmosphere, lots of talking and litte/no action, should have been the standard 2 discs. I was hoping for something more punchy to finish, after the last couple in this series got better and better, its all ended with a dull thud.

Like a first draft

By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Tuesday 26 April 2005
Rating:   6

I liked this adventure a bit more than the other reviewers, but overall it still has many problems. Gary Russell seems to love those story arcs far too much. Perhaps he believes that such contrivances will keep listeners awaiting the next one more than an actually good story will. His model for the last two "seasons" of Doctor 8, and especially the third season, seems to be the Key to Time series. That means that we have an establishing story, some running around here and there with little tidbits of the arc story thrown in, and then a blockbuster finale to bring it all together. It didn't work then, it doesn't work now. The problem is the blockbuster finale, which inevitably drowns in overblown, unrealized expectations and ideas. As with the previous Barnes/Russell contraption, "Zagreus," the formula seems to be to set up the listener only to pull the rug out - repeatedly. So, we have been led to believe that the "Divergents" have been using the Doctor for some dastardly experiment. Surprise - there are no Divergents. C'Rizz is supposed to be a pacifist priest. Surprise - his religion was based on ritual murder. I was expecting, eventually, the big surprise would be that Rassilon would turn out to be a hero again. I still don't know why they missed that one. I never liked turning Rassilon into a villain in the first place.

Ultimately, this is still far better than "Zagreus," which made no sense and ran out of steam after 20 minutes (what, another 200 to go?). Paul McGann is brilliant, as usual, and really makes one wish he had had his turn on the television. Paul Darrow steps out of his usual growling menace to give a more nuanced performance of a true religious devotee, no matter how twisted the religion itself may be. The standout performance belongs to Daphne Ashbrook, who covers a wide range of emotion and attitude here. The plot makes more sense than did "Zagreus" and "Caerdroia." This one has more action and is less chatty than some of the other Doctor 8 adventures, as well.

All in all, the script is like a good first draft. It is full of ideas and has some great snatches of dialogue. However, it also has much that needed revising or rejecting.

A Suitable Wrap-Up

By:Doug, Pocono Summit, PA, USA
Date:Sunday 15 October 2006
Rating:   7

The Next Life starts out with, well, a lot of nothing. During the entire first cd, nothing much really happens. However, once we get into the second cd, we finally get some rather good and rather well played revelations about the nature of the "Divergent Universe." Contrary to the opinions of the other reviewers here, I don't feel that this story was sloppily or hurriedly slapped together, even if it may actually have been. In spite of some of the rather sudden changes that occur, it did seem like everything was taken into account and drawn together here fairly well, into an interesting and satisfying, if a bit twisted, ending to the story arc. Special mention must be given to Daphne Ashbrook's role in this production. Her performance here alone makes The Next Life worth most of the 7 I'm giving it. The story just wasn't good enough to merit a higher score, but Ashbrook is just about the most interesting and enjoyable actor I've heard in any of the Big Finish productions so far, including the regulars. What a pity that we didn't see more of her and McGann together in the Fox series that never was...

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