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Reviews for Death Comes to Time

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Better than most seem to think

By:Brett Gabbatt, Halifax, Canada
Date:Monday 10 February 2003
Rating:   10

Refreshing, new, and a fantastic alternative story for the Doctor Who universe.


Date:Sunday 20 June 2004
Rating:   8

I liked the story because it was complex enough, for an audio, to make it interesting listening more than once. Every time I listen to it, I pick up more details.

I would like to see the story eventually turn up fully mounted as a television episode.

Doctor Who Mythology

By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Wednesday 3 January 2007
Rating:   4

"Death Comes To Time" is an attempt to make Doctor Who into a kind of dying gods myth. The results are decidedly mixed. The mythic mumbo jumbo, complete with "long ago" stories, and a pantheon (literally) of Time Lords just do not work. Doctor Who is best when it sticks to the science fictional. Once we move into myth territory, the whole thing just falls apart from implausibility. The parts that do work are guest stars Stephen Fry and John Sessions. Sessions is an exceptional villain, cold, ruthless, certain, and never over-the-top. Fry brings a great pathos to his role. Other guest stars, such Nicholas Courtney, Jacqueline Pearce, and Anthony Head, are wasted in cameos. The part about making Ace into a Time Lord just goes nowhere - by the end we never know - is she or isn't she? So, the main problem is that the writer tried too hard to make everything BIG rather than make everything hang together.

How The McCoy Era Should have Ended...

By:Matthew Kresal, United States
Date:Tuesday 2 September 2008
Rating:   10

Ah Death Comes To Time…The BBC’s first serious attempt at bringing Doctor Who back after the 1996 TV movie. First aired as a webcast in 2001 and 2002 before being released first on audio CD and then on MP3. Since then it has seemingly divided fans that have seen / heard it into two groups: those who love it and those who hate it. I fall into the former category and here’s why: because Death Comes To Time does two very important things. First it sets out to be something different and more importantly it offers a more satisfying end to Sylvester McCoy’s seventh Doctor.

Death Comes To Time features one of Sylvester McCoy’s best performances as the seventh Doctor. Long known to fans as both a master clown and as a dark manipulator during his TV era, McCoy finds the right balance between the two here. There are moments where McCoy’s comical side shines brightly (especially in his scenes with Antimony) without it being either forced or intrusive. Yet that is just the tip of what makes McCoy’s performance so good. The Doctor of this story isa tragic figure: a tired old man who is watching everything he has spent his life fighting for being brought to the edge of destruction. McCoy conveys this tragic sense well and no more so then in the final moments of the story. The result is a much finer exit, both writing and acting wise, for McCoy’s Doctor then was provided in the TV movie.

On top of McCoy’s performance there is one of the best casts ever assembled for a Doctor Who story. Sophie Aldred returns as the seventh Doctor’s companion Ace and like McCoy gives one of her best performances as older, wiser Ace training for a new destiny. John Sessions (who incidentally auditioned for the role of the eighth Doctor) plays Tannis, the villainous Supreme Commander who is not only bent on universal domination but is far more then just another megalomaniac. Stephen Fry gives an apt performance as the Minister of Chance, as does Leonard Fenton as Ace’s rather poetic Time Lord mentor Casmus. Then there’s the Doctor’s newest companion: the naively happy fisted Antimony played with great humor (and even sympathy before the story is over with) by Kevin Eldon. Then there are also strong performances from Britta Gartner, Robert Rietti, Charlotte Palmer and Peggy Batchelor. Add on cameos from Antony Stewart Head, Jacqueline Pearce and even Nicholas Courtney as the Brigadier and the result is one of the strongest cats ever assembled for any one Doctor Who story.

Death Comes To Time seems to have received a lot of flack from some fans for doing something different then being just another Doctor Who story. To begin with this is a story with an epic feeling. Many have called this epic feeling more akin to Star Wars, but in the past we’ve seen Doctor Who successfully emulate things like the James Bond Films in stories like the Enemy of the World and the Ambassadors of Death and this story proves Doctor Who can do epic stories just as well. For a story like this it needs to be. It travels from Santiny to Micen Island to the Canisian Empire to Earth in a story that crosses space and time in a epic fashion not previously seen in the series.

That brings us to the most controversial aspect of this story: where (or rather if) it fits into and mucks about with the established continuity of the series. First and foremost is the fact it gives the Time Lords seemingly god-like powers over Time. Now to be fair this isn’t the first time we’ve seen them with such powers because we need see them briefly with such powers in Patrick Troughton’s last story The War Games. This is also not the first time the series has tried to rewrite its own continuity either (the Daleks for example had their back-story rewritten several times during the run of the original series especially in Genesis Of The Daleks) . In fact many elements of this story have similar aspects in the series. For example the background of the Fraction regarding the events on Micen Island bares quite a resemblance to the Minyans in Underworld. In fact Ace’s training and the Doctor having god-like powers were both aspects that would have been explored had the series not been canceled after the airing of Survival in 1989. In fact the Doctor’s new abilities bring a new aspect to a character we think we know.

Now for the ultimate question: is Death Comes To Time cannon? I approach that question from the angle of also being a Sherlock Holmes fan. The novel the Seven Percent Solution by Nicholas Meyer is a terrific Sherlock Holmes pastiche that mucks about quite heavily with the cannon of that character (sound familiar?) but that makes it no less enjoyable. Does a story really have to be cannon to be enjoyed? In the final analysis, I believe that that Death Comes To Time can be enjoyed whether or not it fits easily (or at all) into the continuity of the series.

Cannon or not, there can be no doubt that there is something truly special about of Death Comes To Time. From strong performances to a galaxy spanning story, here is a story that takes much that we know about our favorite series and gives us something new and different. It proves to be both something different from other stories of the series and a more satisfying conclusion to the Seventh Doctor’s era. For fans of McCoy’s Doctor looking for something different from their favorite show, Death Comes To Time is recommended. This is how the seventh Doctor era should have ended and it is a shame it didn’t.

Interesting Time Lords

By:Doug, Pocono Summit, PA, USA
Date:Monday 9 August 2010
Rating:   9

In a sense, Death Comes to Time finally gives us Time Lords as they always should have been. Much here seems to bring them back to their original conception, as seen in The War Games, in which they made their first appearance. Finally, we see here some great and mysterious powers once again... not just a highly technically advanced but degenerate society.

However, with the Time Lords like this, and indeed the Doctor very much being one of them, the inescapable question of the entire premise of the original series comes up. If this is how the Time Lords really are, why would the Doctor have gone on the run from them? And having done so, how could he ever regain such a position among them?

And so, in this respect, Death Comes to Time is both tantalizing and troublesome at the same time.

Aside from the question of the Time Lords' characteristics, this is a very interesting production and a good story, and it gives us a look at some real Time Lord spirituality, or profound philosophy, if you prefer, in the scenes featuring Ace's training, which also seems a natural but previously unexplored development. We also have the military campaign of General Tannis, who is well-played in a very full-on way by John Sessions, and we find out that there is much more to this than first meets the eye. The cast overall offers a high-quality array of talent, which is mostly used pretty well.

Whether or not the total structure of this drama really works is debatable, as it seems rather disjointed at times, but it cannot be said that the script was unambitious. It's almost like each episode is a separate story, joined together in an arc.

I first viewed this story online as it was first broadcast. At that time, I was very unhappy with the ending. On listening again recently, I would now say that the ending does work. In my first viewing, the diversion into the Bush and Blair impersonations, along with the sudden and brief appearance of the Brigadier just seemed too jarring and schlocky, but somehow this didn't cause a problem on the second listening. I also remember being initially perplexed over the choice of Sylvester McCoy for this story, after the TV movie, and with the Eighth Doctor line of books being in full bloom at the time. But this story makes great use of the seventh Doctor, and McCoy really shines here.

Unique, and too interesting to miss.

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