I have to say from the outset, I absolutely adore Alex McQueen’s Master. He needs to appear more often and he needs to recruited into the TV show as well. He was fabulous in UNIT: Dominion and I could quite happily listen to Dark Eyes 3 on continual repeat. Seriously, we need to start a campaign to get more of his divine villainy…. so my review might not be the most objective.
Essentially, I was always going to enjoy this story. And what’s not to like? Two Masters battling it out! And that only goes on to be trumped by two Masters teaming up (and this was even before the TV show attempted to do the same thing). And these two prove to be at least as antagonistic as two Doctors working together. The dynamic between Beavers and McQueen is, on the whole, spot on. Beavers, as always, portraying the most clearly evil incarnation of our second favourite Time Lord, embodying the “kill first, make witty jokes never” rule that could easily make him the only incarnation with the ability actually to follow through with his evil plans. McQueen, meanwhile, is camping high by the time the two of them unite. It’s an absolute delight.
As for the plot itself. It’s intriguing and clever, as you would expect from a John Dorney story, and the sharpness of the dialogue only adds to this. A nicely interwoven narrative where we, and the Doctor, are treated to a mystery: why is the Master behaving oddly? Why is he fighting himself? And who exactly are the Cult of the Heretic?
It is a very Doctor-lite story. And if I’ve got any complaint it’s with the Doctor’s role. It’s unusual for the 7th Doctor to be taken quite so much for a ride, and it felt out of character somewhat. And then, ironically, the ease with which he then dispatches our masterly duo almost felt a bit cheap – he treats them almost as naughty school boys playing caught with things beyond their abilities after they had run complete circles around him for most of the story… but that’s only a minor complaint (and, in itself, entirely in character with a Master-trickster story). The story manages to be silly without descending info the ludicrous, and to deal with an epic, universe-shattering plot, without become tediously overblown. I’ve not been listening to much of the monthly range recently and, I must say, it’s refreshing to listen to a story that manages to stay tidy and self-contained (embodying a very authentic classic series feel).
Definitely one to re-listen to.