Eddie Robson (who writes for Big Finish) really does waver up and down in his DOCTOR WHO stories, but they are never bad. Even the lower register ones are quite fun and enjoyable. I started this review off that way because when Robson is on…he’s really on.
We’ve jumped briefly back to Eight and Lucie’s S1 adventures to cover 1.4 PHOBOS, which we missed when I first did these as I’d not had a copy yet.
PHOBOS is really Eddie Robson’s writing firing on all cylinders in the DOCTOR WHO arsenal. It’s got it all, an interesting setting (in this case Mar’s moon Phobos), compelling secondary characters, a creepy set of monsters who are not what they appear, emotions, running, witty banter. It’s all here.
The Doctor and Lucie have arrived at Phobos, which is now the center of an extreme sports phenomenon in the form of a huge stationary wormhole on the surface from which they bungee. But of course not is all it seems and people have begun to disappear.
Seems rather generic yes? Ah, but that is the genius of the episode. For on the surface it is generic, but underneath lays one of the best, albeit darker, stories in the whole first series. For once the villain is properly discovered, the Doctor delves into things to a level that is unexpected not only to said villain, but to those around him and even Lucie herself. It’s one of the darkest moments in the whole of Eight’s adventures, and gave me a chill towards where he heads in the future, up to and including the Time War. I don’t want to give away too much so I won’t tell you more, but sufficed to say that the Doctor owns this episode for sheer brass.
PHOBOS is a really interesting look at what humans seek, what they strive for and why, but most of all what happens when they find more than they bargained for. Like I mentioned above the story has all the hallmarks of a classic DW story, but it will be the final ten minutes that will haunt you and really get under your skin. I loved that feeling, as it’s not really something you often get to see of the Doctor as a character.
Stalwart director Barnaby Edwards ought to be praised for always paying attention to pacing and layout of the episodes he directs…and PHOBOS is especially no different. Give this one a listen, as it is easily the match of the other really standout episodes from Series 1.
NEXT TIME: S2.5 GRAND THEFT COSMOS in which the Doctor and Lucie become embroiled in a heist…but on which side?