Big Finish Productions
|Written by||Dan Abnett|
|Starring Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred|
|Synopsis: On the human colony planet Nocturne, there is suffering and blight, tragic symptoms of an ages-old war. Nevertheless, Nocturne is also one of the Doctor's favourite places in all of time and space, because it is here that a late, great flowering of human art - the High Renaissance - is taking place. He has been back here many times. It is a place of music and art which he finds inspirational and uplifting. It is a place he wants to share with Ace and Hex. It's always been a safe haven for him, a world of friends and laughter. But with strict Martial Law imposed on the front-line city, and the brutal scourge of interstellar warfare vicing the system, how safe can anyone really be? There is a note of death in the wild, midnight wind...|
A Song to Dull the Senses by Jacob Licklider 30/12/21
In 2006, Gary Russell announced he would leave Big Finish as producer and principal director, and Nicholas Briggs took over. Briggs taking over was a rocky time for Big Finish, as again they had to get the license reapproved and really wanted to begin more ranges for Doctor Who. The first story he had recorded was Nocturne, which is honestly a shaky start for what should be a new era of stories being told from a new creative team. The plot itself is interesting, with the Doctor taking Ace and Hex to one of his favorite planets, Nocturne, a planet of musicians at the edge of an intergalactic war, where robots are murdering people when music is played as bait. The story continues on to be "stop the evil robots", which happens in the last five minutes in a way that is extremely rushed, before the Doctor and company leg it from the planet. The story doesn't feature any crazy revelations about the characters except some exposition from Hex's school days explaining he went to Venice on a trip.
Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor is doing his very best with the material of the story, but that isn't the problem. The problem is that McCoy really isn't suited to playing a Doctor as the way that Abnett decides to write him. The Doctor here really feels more like the part was written for the Fifth Doctor, especially with the numerous references to the previous visit to Nocturne when he was the Fifth Doctor. Now I'm not against giving the Doctor a place to escape to, but there really isn't much interesting being done with the concept and what is done feels a lot like something out of an earlier era. That can't be said for the flaws in Sophie Aldred as Ace, as it isn't the writing that lets her character down but rather Aldred's rather stilted acting performance. I don't know if Aldred or Ainsworth are to blame, but for some reason anything Ace says, especially the one liners, just comes out in what must be a forced monotone. Philip Olivier as Hex is really the only character who feels like he is in character, and it helps that the most memorable portions of the story come straight from the fact that it is devoted to following Hex around as he explores the planet. The supporting cast has a few interesting characters, but the idea of a planet of artists was done a lot better in Dust Breeding. The sound design and music are actually really good for the most part, as it is several piano pieces and even a few nice nocturnes thrown in to keep the theme of music pervade the score. Steve Foxon knows how to write music, and his score actually feels unique not only to the story, but to the era as the story is enhanced with almost an air of sadness.
To summarize, Nocturne is simply an underwhelming story to begin a new era on. The main cast and supporting cast are both boring, even if the ideas are genuinely interesting. Hex is the only character to rise above mediocrity. The story does however succeed in creating a captivating score to listen to on its own. 50/100