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Reviews for The War Doctor: Casualties of War

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What a wonderful send off for A Legend!!

By:Matthew David Rabjohns, Bridgend, United Kingdom
Date:Wednesday 19 April 2017
Rating:   10

It is with more than just a twinge of sadness that one comes to review Big Finish's final box set in the sublime War Doctor series. With the passing of one of the finest actors ever, in the late great Sir John Hurt, the whole of the acting profession is a distinctly colder place without the man who was once the Elephant Man and Quentin Crisp and a crewman on Alien, and to all fans of Doctor Who, the War Doctor.
The War Doctor as a character has been ground into the dirt by the effects of the Time War. He has recanted his name, and can be severely rude and distant. But despite the burden of all the universes on his shoulders, we still can glimpse the man who wants no more than to help the oppressed and tend to the sick. And Sir John was the perfect choice to become the Doctor. His whole incarnation is one of bone weary tiredness, but also fierce determination in the face of overwhelming odds. His acting as ever, is intense and moving and really makes you feel for his Doctor!
The final set of the War Doctor has a plethora of hugely enjoyable moments. The true feel of futile and costly war is at the forefront of these astounding tales. The final arc begins with the battle intense PRETTY LIES by Guy Adams, which is a totally down to the nail exploration of the full horrors of war. One is instantly driven to route for the safety of the population of Beltox, and the dramatic tension and build up to a harrowing finale is so well achieved by all involved in this superb first story. Guys script is full of drama and terror and yet isn’t heavy handed or repetitive at all.
And then we are taken on to hear the return of Leela, as ever superbly portrayed by the wonderful Louise Jameson. This reviewer always has been a great fan of any female character who is shown to be capable of looking after herself! But here Leela is known as THE LADY OF OBSIDIAN, and it’s a joy to hear her in scenes with John Hurt. One strongly gets the feeling that she works just as well with John as she did with Tom Baker all those years ago. And throw in a reliably devious Cardinal Illustrator, played to perfection by the wonderful Jackie Pearce, then you’re bound to get a story to remember. Andrew Smith has surely risen from the lowly seventeen year old who wrote Full Circle to a reliable and robust pair of hands that Big Finish have utilised so well.
And from then we come to the thrilling conclusion of this immense saga. THE ENIGMA DIMENSION by the ever reliable and gifted dalek voice maestro himself, Nick Briggs, is good and appealing and unforgettable grandiose as a finale. But this reviewer is so saddened by the War Doctors extreme self loathing. And this story has him thinking he may even be the worst warrior in all of Gallifrey history. To this reviewer, he is far too hard on himself. Thrown into any war no one can emerge from it without being forever changed. And the War Doctors despair and grief is palpable throughout the whole of this epic and unforgettable saga.
The sound design and direction are also spot on and highly polished and one is breath taken at the scope and the scale of these stories, considering they are only in the audio format! But these stories have maintained a cinematic and massive scale that makes them an indelible contribution to Who lore. Together with the ever present threat of the insanely evil Daleks all these elements blend together to make a splendid banquet.
So, from the building up of his character on The Day of the Doctor to his immediately awesome induction into the Big Finish universe with ONLY THE MONSTROUS, and rising to the sublime CASUALTIES OF WAR, this is a set of twelve adventures any Doctor Who fan can relish and enjoy as a showcase of just what made Sir John Hurt an absolutely formidable Doctor. We may well be very saddened by his tragic parting, but at least we can remember him fondly in this incredible series that has certainly captivated this reviewer! Sir John will never be forgotten.

Things Go Bang

By:David Layton, Los Angeles, United States
Date:Wednesday 6 September 2017
Rating:   8

The final set in the War Doctor series takes the ideas for the series to about as far as they can go. The Time War really is a limited domain as far as the kinds of stories that could be told. In this last set, we get the return of an old friend and the Doctor who doesn't want to be the Doctor almost gets what he wants. Things start where they left off with set 3 in "Pretty Lies." The Doctor and Ollistra are now stranded fugitives hunted by the Daleks. The title refers to the war correspondent, which is logical to bring in if one is telling war stories. This is also the desperate last stand of the small town against the massively armed invaders story. Many things go bang and many lies are told. "The Lady of Obsidian" turns out to be Leela, but a Leela who is a casualty of the Time War, who is both dead and alive thanks to a malfunctioning time weapon, and so has all the memories of all her possible lives, leaving her without any way to determine which are true. She has now become leader of rebel band fighting the Daleks, but the Time War has created a new enemy, those who are merely possible lives, escaping into this universe to take out their vengeance on the living. Many things go bang. In "The Enigma Dimension," the Doctor, Ollistra, and Leela return to Gallifrey. The Daleks perfect a weapon that rewrites history, replacing the Time Lords with Daleks. Is the Time War truly over? Have the Daleks actually won? Fewer things go bang.

The series works hard on developing the Doctor - Ollistra relationship, which John Hurt and Jacqueline Pearce play to the utmost. They make a great double-act. Louise Jameson is excellent at bringing out Leela's torment.

There are some problems in the storytelling. For instance, the big showdown between The Doctor and the Dalek Time Strategist, which has been building for three series, doesn't really happen. It's a bit of an anticlimax. There is a problem with conveying just how otherworldly the otherworldly dimension is. It really isn't all that otherworldly. Given the types of stories on offer, there is a certain predictability.

Nevertheless, we have some great acting, some truly intriguing ideas, and some rounding off of the Time War saga.

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