Doctor Who: Doom Coalition 1
Written By: John Dorney, Matt Fitton, Marc Platt, Edward Collier
Directed By: Ken Bentley
Paul McGann (The Doctor), Nicola Walker (Liv Chenka), Hattie Morahan (Helen Sinclair), Robert Bathurst (Padrac), Caroline Langrishe (Lady Farina), Bethan Walker (Kiani), Ramon Tikaram (Castellan), David Yelland (Walter Pritchett), John Woodvine (Galileo Galilei), Harry Myers (Cleaver), Esther Hall (Virginia), Gunnar Cauthery (Cavalli), Ewan Bailey (Count Licori/Father Locke/Orbs), Matthew Cottle (Paine) and Mark Bonnar as The Eleven - with a special apperance by Sylvester McCoy (The Seventh Doctor)
Producer David Richardson
Script Editor Ken Bentley
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs
Going into the box set, we must first recognize the fact that, despite the name, we do not get an understanding of what this “Doom Coalition” is. Does the name reference a group of criminals working together or a group which comes together to fight against some apparent doom which has come before them? Whatever the name signifies, I’m sure this box set is indeed a set up for the “coalition” to come together.
There are two major aspects to this box set: one is the introduction of a new Time Lord criminal, and the other is to find the eighth Doctor another companion to be with him and Liv Chenka. The stories are mixed here—I think the opening episode is the best, which introduces the criminal, the Eleven, who is both crazy and fun, and he is someone I would love to see on screen as The Twelve (?) sometime. The other stories are mixed – I would say the third episode, the Galileo Trap, is probably the second best, then the fourth story, the Satanic Mill, with the second story, The Red Lady introducing the new companion, Helen Sinclair, being the weakest of the four. The opening story I would give 9/10 stars, the Red Lady 7/10, The Galileo Trap 8/10 and the Satanic Mill 7.5/10 – the set is entertaining, but sadly, after the setup of the first episode where the new foe, The Eleven, escapes Gallifrey (and sets many other villains free as he leaves), the rest of the box set fails to meet the excellence of the first episode and so even while enjoyable, the set up doesn’t play itself out as well as desired.
The real genius of this set is the Eleven. He is a new, very unstable, Time Lord villain. He is mentally imbalanced in a way only a Time Lord can be. He has all his lives, all his incarnations, living in and through his consciousness – all but one of them apparently evil, all but one of them working together (barely—they do fight amongst themselves in a way similar to multiple Doctors would) to conduct his plans. Some of his incarnations are more sinister than others, some are chaotic and “Joker” like in their methods – but all of them are enjoyable, even the one who seeks to be different from the rest and is seemingly not so wicked. Each incarnation names themselves after the number they are in his sequence – and so, being on the Eleventh Incarnation, the person himself is known as the Eleven; his evil was not always recognized by the Time Lords. Early on in his life, he worked his way up in Time Lord society, where he was able to learn many dark secrets from such a high position. They give him a sense of power which he uses to his own advantage. The Doctor and the Eleven have fought before—the 7th Doctor is the one who most recently imprisoned him – but the Eleven just uses his time in prison for his advantage, slowly working on his escape plans. And what a nasty plan it turns out to be – well crafted, on the level of what we would expect from the 7th Doctor if he were an evil mad genius instead of the Doctor. Lots of damage is done in the Eleven’s wake --- many high members of Time Lord society get killed --- and so it makes sense that, after what happened here, Gallifrey would be vulnerable for an invasion by Daleks. Even though the Time War is not represented here, it still helps set-up for it. As a character, I think the Eleven rivals any villain shown on screen to date, even if his plan in the last part of this set (where he returns) feels less interesting and a copy of some of the Rani’s plans, he still is entertaining even there and there is room for some surprises with him in the rest of the set, I’m sure.
The new companion, Helen, is an Egyptologist, who was academically qualified to earn herself a high position in her field, but because she was a woman in the 1960s, she was overlooked by officials while she was highly respected by those she worked with. When she runs into the Doctor and Liv Chenka, her whole world comes apart. By the end of her first adventure, she finds she has nothing left to keep her on Earth, that she indeed, had lost everything, and so the Doctor, seeing her genius, thought hecould use her help in his quest to find the Eleven and help save the universe from whatever the Eleven planned. Helen is a capable companion, and it is nice to see she has some time to enjoy a journey in history and feel the glory in it before she and the Doctor and Liv have to face the Eleven. As a companion, she offers a bit more common sense and compassion than Liv, and probably is needed for that reason – though she is still in an introductory phase of things by the end of the set so it is hard to determine her full qualities and how she will rank among companions. It is nice to see the Doctor with two companions for a change – it feels right in this set, for reasons I can’t explain without revealing too much spoilers.
All in all, if one is a fan of the Eighth Doctor and his adventures, this is a good continuation of them, and I feel the best set since the first Dark Eyes came out. But truth be told, it is volume 2 I’m looking forward to the most, to see how River Song fits in a pre-Time War sequence…
My take on the name of the “Doom Coalition” is that we will find out that the Eleven has made an alliance with many of the villains who were locked up by the Time Lords (many from races who seemed to pose a threat to the Time Lords). That he is working with them for a bigger plan than we have seen. But, truth be told, it’s hard to know for sure.
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