And so we finish the Big Finish main range off in 2012 with The Shadow Heart, an ending to an ambitious and ever so slightly epic Doctor Who story that plays out through three of the Doctor’s later incarnations.
What’s instantly noticeable about this story is that Jonathan Morris has injected some of his more favourable comedy stylings into the piece without losing track of the big, epic picture. On top of that, he’s constructed a proper wibbly wobbly timey wimey affair for the Seventh Doctor to go through, with the adventure starting at the beginning for the listener but at least halfway through for the Doctor, bear in mind that Morris has been doing this sort of effective trickery long before Steven Moffat introduced Doctor Who fans to the world of meeting Madame De Pompadour out of synch. Whilst the Seventh Doctor meets bounty hunters that he has already encountered, he implores them not to reveal too many secrets until he, and the listener, are ready to work out the mysteries of this tale. It’s all done to great effect and gives the ending to this trilogy a bit of extra flavour for repeat listening in the future.
And what of the ending to this story you ask, does it meet the standard of the two before it and wrap up everything in a nice and neat package? The answer, rather contritely, is yes. It’s rather difficult to reveal exactly how and why as to do so would give away major plot point related to the preceding stories The Burning Prince and The Acheron Pulse but suffice it to say that this is the strongest of the three releases, this reviewer doesn’t mind admitting that there was a tear to the eye during the final act of this tale with a noble sacrifice that tugs at the heart strings. The Doctor’s meddling/outcome from his help over the last hundred years has really come back to bite him on the posterior this time and the plot reveal as to the Wrath’s motivations is a well conceived idea indeed. We all know that the Doctor will save the day, we know that he’ll fix all of the messes that he’s left behind in his fifth and sixth incarnations but it’s the brilliant performance from Sylvester McCoy that really sells the fact to the listener that the Seventh Doctor carries the guilt from decisions that he’s made in his previous lives, as the fixer of big situations it’s very fitting that events should end with him rather than moving onto the Eighth Doctor.
Can The Shadow Heart work as a standalone story? Out of all three in the trilogy it’s probably the one that can do it with the most confidence, especially when it’s helped by the wonderful performance of Chase Masterson as Vienna Salavatori, the greedy bounty Hunter after the Doctor for a suitable sum of money, but to truly appreciate this tale, you should really start from The Burning Prince because the references to key events are all the more satisfying in this story when you do.
The Shadow Heart is available on CD or via download now from www.bigfinish.com .