I've written more than once about the scarcity of Irish actors or characters on Doctor Who but this year Saint Patrick's Day has fallen on Saturday, the day I usually write about Doctor Who, so I listened to the first Dark Eyes audio anthology from 2012. A collection of Eighth Doctor stories, it features the Doctor's only Irish companion in any medium, Molly O'Sullivan, portrayed by Irish actress Ruth Bradley. And I was glad to find Dark Eyes is a good series, especially surprising since it was written by Nicholas Briggs, whose scripts I've generally not enjoyed in the past. He loads up a few too many Irish-isms in Molly's dialogue but mostly she's a good character in a good set of stories. I like how she mockingly insists on calling the Doctor "The Doctor."
Comprised of four stories, each just under an hour, the first, "The Great War", finds the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) arriving on Earth in the midst of a mustard gas attack during World War I. The Seventh Doctor had a few World War I adventures, too, and with the recent Christmas special featuring the Twelfth Doctor in a World War I setting, I wonder how many Doctors are roaming about No Man's Land.
Molly is a Voluntary Aid Detachment nursing assistant--not a nurse, she continually reminds everyone. The medical staff angle is another thing that makes this reminiscent of the Seventh Doctor story, No Man's Land. But "The Great War" does a better job establishing the lives of the average participants, with Molly being a wiser, more experienced hand hastily advising another woman on how to treat and behave around men brought in from the battlefield.
The second story, "Fugitives", gets more into the underlying story that bridges the four, and features more heavily two guest characters played by Peter Egan and Toby Jones. Whether or not they're villains isn't quite clear but in the concluding chapter, "X and the Daleks", Briggs makes good use of them, coming up with a really cool way to use Time Lord regeneration I can't remember seeing or hearing in another story.
The third story, "Tangled Web", features the Doctor and Molly coming across a community of peaceful Daleks. It's a story that plays with the Doctor's acquired hatred for the species in much the way the new television series has done from time to time; giving us the innocence of his companion's eyes, wanting to give a whole species the benefit of the doubt, confounded by the normally open minded Doctor unable to accept the possibility of peaceful Daleks. This one has some interesting moments, I particularly liked how in the climax it gets to the point where the Doctor feels like he's going mad for being the only one who holds what he can't help feeling is a perfectly reasonable point of view.
Briggs, as he does on the new show, also voices the Daleks and is good at creating an impression of several individuals. McGann is good as always and has good chemistry with Bradley. She's effective in the role though I don't like how she calls the TARDIS a "Tardy box".
Twitter Sonnet #1094
The water turned above to different roofs.
The circuitry of scuba scars appeared.
A warning dripped from restless, turquoise hoofs.
The worried land observed the endless weird.
The face beside the ears divulged a sound.
As pieces ranged a board became a day.
A cushion took the seconds from the ground.
As grasses pass the ivy shows the way.
Surprising kings beneath the hills were hid.
A dot was glowing green before the snakes.
A clover star would burst to quadrant grid.
Remembered drinks were debts beneath the lakes.
The ling'ring wolf returned to save the slain.
A wailing shade perplexed the sullen train.