While a war throughout time and space is waged between the Time Lords and Daleks, the Doctor and his companion Sheena enjoy a trip on a galactic pleasure vessel Theseus. Cleverly using his psychic paper, the Doctor procures a room for the duo and soon enough they begin to uncover a sordid mystery beneath the glamour of the Theseus involving a galactic goblin taking its toll from the crafts which pass over its ‘bridge.’ All in all, a standard adventure until reality shifts and the Theseus is a refugee ship… and his companion changes names… twice.
Residue and fallout from the Time War has reached the Doctor despite his attempts to escape its pull. The Theseus crashes on a planet which is awash with temporal weapon radiation, causing the fauna and flora to climb up and down evolutionary ladders. Forests turn lush and decrepit in the blink of an eye and the simian-like natives are both primitive and advanced. The Doctor is quite literally drafted into the war and the Daleks draw ever closer to annihilation of their enemy, the Time Lords of Gallifrey.
I have differing opinions of this first installment of the Time War. It starts off interesting enough then turns into a long slog through a jungle (as interesting to listen to as it would be to watch in screen) and perks up a bit toward the end when the Doctor is the maverick who refuses to fit in at the Time Lord boot camp. The Doctor is separated from his friends from the crash of the Theseus, Quarren and Rupor, by Cardinal Ollistra who shows an abnormal interest in them. In the end, Quarren is not at all who he appears and his past is called into question as the universe hangs in the balance.
I think my biggest gripe is that the audio shares far too much with the Nu Who TV series, even to the point of a magic button that can unravel any and all problems. Only Time War 1 combines the magic button with a character and a last minute grasp for the heart strings. The revelation of Quarren was another twist in a series of turns that this four part story took, and one too many in my opinion.
I typically enjoy the Eighth Doctor audios immensely and Paul McGann is in fine form here, but the script and guest cast (especially Bliss) fell beneath my expectations. It was almost a chore to make it through to the end! I hate to sound negative but by and large this was a disappointment for me and not the blockbuster opener to a new series of Eighth Doctor stories that I had hoped for. Maybe Ravenous will be better?