On the human colony planet Nocturne, there is suffering
and blight, tragic symptoms of an ages-old war. Nevertheless,
this is one of the Doctor's favourite places, because it is
here that a late, great flowering of human art and music is
taking place. It is a place he finds inspirational and uplifting,
and he wants to share it with Ace and Hex. It's always been
a safe haven for him, a world of friends and laughter. But
with strict Martial Law imposed on the front-line city, and
the brutal scourge of interstellar warfare gripping the system,
how safe can anyone really be? There is a note of death in
the wild, midnight wind...
Having really enjoyed the freshness and excitement of writer
Dan Abnett's previous Seventh Doctor/Ace/Hex story, The
Harvest, I had high hopes for this follow-up.
Unfortunately, Nocturne comes up rather shorter on
the original ideas front.
The writer explores the interesting notion of the Doctor (Sylvester
McCoy) having friends at various ports of call throughout
space and time - not just on Earth - in this instance the
planet Nocturne. Thus at the outset of the adventure the travellers
arrive at a place where they are welcomed with open arms,
rather than, as is more customary, stepping out into the unknown
and/or being greeted with hostility by suspicious natives.
it's not long before familiar old patterns begin to reassert
themselves. Following some mysterious deaths, the Doctor is
treated as a suspect and is even accused of being an enemy
spy. Prior to this turn of events, we are introduced to a
set of pleasantly voiced yet sinister robots, known as Familiars
(all played by Helen Kay), whose "cannot harm humans, honest
guv" programming comes straight from the works of Isaac Asimov
- which have, of course, previously been raided by Who
in the Tom Baker serials Robot and The Robots of
Death. Ultimately, the real menace proves to be sound-based,
an idea that was novel back when Big Finish first used it
in 1999 in Whispers of Terror but now seems a little
Abnett does attempt a bit of character development for the
Seventh Doctor, as the Time Lord apologises to Ace (Sophie
Aldred) and Hex (Philip Olivier) for having kept them in the
dark in the past about his foreknowledge and motivations,
and promises to try and mend his ways. However, fans who regard
the New Adventures novels as part of the same continuity
as these audios know that this Machiavellian incarnation will
soon slip back into his devious old ways. Not even McCoy and
Aldred believe that the Doctor will keep his word for long,
as they make plain in this double CD's extra features.
During these interviews, the stars are also asked their opinions
of the new television version of Doctor Who. I heartily
agreed with Aldred's view of the pre-publicity that surrounded
the then new companion Rose Tyler. The way the press carried
on about Rose being a feistier and more capable kind of companion
than ever before, you'd think Ace had never appeared on the
only the drama itself had engaged me as much as Aldred's comments
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