Big Finish Folly, Part 90 – Arrangements For War, by Paul Sutton
Things have changed for Evelyn. She’s seeing the Doctor in a new light. And, at least for the time being, she wants out. A quiet place, no terrible catastrophes or horrible deaths, just a place to think. The Doctor knows just the place. But, as he knows only too well, the act of observing something changed that which is observed. And the wrong word, in the wrong place, at the wrong time… changes a lot more than that.
After the recent triple whammy of Jubilee, Pirates, and Project: MakeVampiresRock, as well as the revelation (for us listeners at least) that her ticker is a bit dicky, Evelyn has a right to want to step off the carousel for a while. It’s happened before – most notably with Tegan, back in Resurrection of the Daleks: a sort of Tardis Fatigue, I guess. The Doctor, never quite understanding human emotions as well as he thinks he does, decides to hang around, promising Evelyn that he has brought her to a world where their presence will not interfere with history – even though there’s an invasion from outer space scheduled in the next month. Hmm.
Needless to say it all goes horribly wrong. The intended A plot is pretty much Romeo & Juliet set against the backdrop of an imminent alien invasion and political shenanigans. The B plot meanwhile features Evelyn overcoming despair and finding someone she could fall in love with while the Doctor, in her absence, latches onto the star-crossed lovers and becomes far too dependent on their fate.
There are some nice touches – not least of which is the play’s overall sound. The battle sequences in particular reverberate through the skull, but every other scene is also fully developed. The quick jumps through time – remember, the play compresses a full month or so into the two hour running time – don’t damage the plot’s continuity as much as you’d expect. The relationship between Rossiter and Evelyn is warm and well-drawn, and even the two lovers are well-rounded and nowhere near as self-absorbed as ol’ Shakey’s mopey teens (and they are also fortunate that, unlike Terry Pratchett’s parodical couple, they at least exist at the same time as one another…).
The play is a bit of a blunt instrument though, subjecting the Doctor to a moment of Khan-like rage at the climax so that he can storm back to the Tardis and attempt to “put matters right”, with only Evelyn able to calm him and say “Yep, that’s how it felt. I can deal with it, and you have to as well.” By no means a classic, but a fair example of Big Finish exploring and developing the characters of both the Doctor and Evelyn.