Dark Gallifrey - War Master discussion

So, I’ll start this one (be aware I’m still in the middle of this, so my thoughts and opinions might shift as I progress). If you’re expecting something similar to Morbius, then prepare for broken expectations. This is very different from Morbius. The whole story of Part 1 at least, seems to be being told in reverse. I’m enjoying it, but I’m quite unsure of where we’re going with this one. I will say that, while I enjoyed Warner’s Once and Future appearance, he didn’t sound his best in that. Here, he sounds like the normal David Warner that I’ve become accustomed to in most of his other Big Finish appearances. I’ll probably have more thoughts once I finish.

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That’s going to need a second listen

Selectively censoring spoilers is going to be a nightmare, so I’m just going to blur the whole thing. Spoiler warning for this, and also Stranded volume 3:

On paper, I should love this. It’s characters I like doing things that I like in the way that I like them to be done. But something feels off, something’s not clicking somewhere.

Maybe it’s me. I wasn’t exactly in a great headspace when I listened to it. I’ll try again later in the week and see of it holds up better. Maybe something about the “story told backwards” gimmick messes with my spoiler aversion instincts and I have to work to not automatically discard information.

Honestly, I think the biggest thing is that this series as a whole is trying to be new and bold and weird and different, and playing with the way the story is told is clearly meant to be a part of that. It just doesn’t feel as new and original as it should. Big Finish have already done the “story told backwards” thing, and fairly recently.

The moment I worked out what was going on, I instantly went “oh, that’s the same gimmick as ‘What Just Happened?’ from Stranded 3.” I don’t like being reminded of ‘What Just Happened?’ from Stranded 3. It’s not great, and the way it uses the reverse order gimmick is a big part of why. ‘What Just Happened’ is a generic, bland story, that’s very much relying on the weird narritive structure to be the interesting part, and it doesn’t work. It opens with the contextless climax, and follows it with bland exposition. It’s payoff, followed by setup. It’s a very simple story that doesn’t need to be told backwards, it just sort of is. It feels more like a writing exercise than a story.

So, instead of being excited by this bold, new narritive approach, I was reminded of a not great story that only used this gimmick because otherwise the story would be even more boring. It took me a while to overcome my cynicism and realise that this is actually a much smarter and better executed use of this gimmick. There’s multiple thematic and plot reasons to tell the story this way (as opposed to none). It uses the form of the story as part of the story itself in a way that really works. Unfortunately, by the time I realised that, I was quite far in, so the story had already lost a lot of the impact it should have had.

In theory, I like it, and I expect to enjoy it more on relisten.

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Oh dear… I’m glad I’m not the only one who didn’t like that story from Str3 (but I wasn’t much of a Stranded fan at all tbh…)

I haven’t listened to this yet - it’s on my list for today if I get everything I need to get done, done. Sounds like this is the kind of story that I’ll need to put my concentrating brain on for, so I will keep that in mind I think. In principle, I am excited for it because I LOVE Benny and I adore the Unbound Doctor, so in theory this should be brilliant.

Also, is the Master actually even in it at all…?

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Yeah, be prepared to concentrate. Definitely don’t listen to this while tired and distracted and annoyed at something else

The Master isn’t in this episode, but I think it’s pretty clear what this story’s setting up, and how he’ll come into it later on

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The Behind-the-Scenes Interviews are possibly the most interesting thing about this. According to the Interviews, this trilogy is actually an epilogue/coda to the series. No, the Master doesn’t appear in this. It’s primarily Benny and the Doctor, and the Imbomination, a sentient mass of paradoxes. I think I liked this, but we’ll see how the other parts turn out. The reverse order is kinda gimmicky, but it works for me here. In the end, I enjoyed it, but it probably won’t be one I’ll come back to often.

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I really liked that first part. Mostly, I think, because I love Benny and David Warner’s Doctor, and they always bounce off each other in a really fun way.

I thought the script was possibly a bit too random, but the chaotic nature of the middle allowed for some truly excellent scenes, like where Benny finds Ace’s dead body and tries to save her mother. I found those segments really powerful. It tapers off a little towards the end, but overall it left a good impression. Saddened of course by this being the final appearance of David Warner in Big Finish. (Although not the final recorded: that was Time Lord Immemorial, apparently. I much prefer this one as a script, and with its themes of endings and beginnings, it’s actually a really fitting final story for the Unbound Doctor. I will very much miss David Warner.)

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This topic fascinates me. Looking forward to diving into this when I get a chance :blue_heart:

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Interesting. Benny and the Unbound Doctor never fail to be wonderful, and I really enjoyed their thing as usual. I think not listening to Morbius means a little of it was lost on me, and it took me until about 3/5 of the way through for it to really click into place with me in terms of understanding and enjoyment, but overall, yes. I agree @NyssaUnbound that it is What Just Happened? but better, and I’m glad I think to have read that spoiler so I didn’t have to get cross about it by thinking of it organically.

I do think this is an episode that would get better with relistens, and I probably will give it another spin before the next release

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