A science station on the distant world of Cimmeria IV is plunged into darkness. Its three-person crew can’t see, but they can feel – and what they feel, at the hands of whatever has attacked the station, is intense pain. The Doctor arrives by chance, having always wondered how the sun of the Cimmerian system went dark at some point in the future, but when he and Charley pay a visit, things go horribly wrong, including Charley encountering the science station’s crew…who have been relieved of their eyes. The same fate then befalls Charley when she’s separated from the Doctor – and the Time Lord is getting no help from ROSM, an artificial intelligence whose inflexible thinking may not only doom an entire species inhabiting Cimmeria IV, but may also force the time travelers to be present for the death of the sun.
Cast: Paul McGann (The Doctor), India Fisher (Charley), Nicola Boyce (Orllensa), Lee Moone (Ferras), Mark McDonnell (Haliard), Ian Brooker (ROSM / Solarian / Cimmerian), Nicholas Briggs (Cimmerian Voice)
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: Well, this is definitely a Nick Briggs script, all right – the claustrophobic feel, the intensely small cast, and a story that would’ve been impossible to do on TV simply because most of it is played out in pitch blackness. Oh, and don’t forget that Doctor Who staple ingredient, the demented computer. It’s an interesting ride, but if anything, the juiciest stuff happens in part four, when we start to catch a glimpse of the real character dynamic between the eighth Doctor and Charley. Adventurous as she is, and even though she loses and regains her eyes (not her sight, mind you, but her whole optical sensory organs, a horrific act diminished by the subsequent return of the characters’ eyes), Charley isn’t going to let the Doctor make one of his grand sacrificial gestures and take a Christlike fall to atone for the ignorance of the human explorers. That’s an interesting touch. It says a bit about Charley’s nerve and courage, but it says a lot more for the simple fact that she cares what happens to her friend.
Jim Mortimore takes over the musical duties (usually, Briggs writes, directs and scores his own stuff), but the music isn’t up to much. The acting is impressive in places, but sometimes it lets us down just a little, and makes Embrace The Darkness the least-enthusiastically acted of the eighth Doctor audio stories in 2002. Still, it’s an intriguing concept, and yet another swipe at a “something which could only be done on audio” story, and in places it truly is genuinely disturbing.