The TARDIS brings the Doctor, Charley and C’rizz to a world where time is frozen – and faces are frozen in fear of some unknown force. The Doctor suddenly orders his friends back to the TARDIS, but when they reach it, not only are they unable to open it, but the Doctor is nowhere to be found. Time resumes its normal course around the Time Lord, and he finds himself an hour in the past, in a society where everyone lives in fear of the Clockwork Men, who strike if anyone is idle when they should be working toward the goal of Completion. As he has no duties other than to ask questions, the Doctor soon becomes such a target, and has an unpleasant audience with the local monarch. In the clock tower at the center of this kingdom, Charley and C’rizz find time is still frozen around them – including the scene of Doctor’s own execution by beheading, mere minutes into his future…
Cast: Paul McGann (The Doctor), India Fisher (Charley), Conrad Westmaas (C’rizz), Ronald Pickup (King Kestorian), racey Childs (The Figurehead), Beth Vyse (Vannet), Adrian Schiller (Prince Zanith), Philip Edgerley (Collis), Merryn Owen (Revnon)
Timeline: after Other Lives and before Something Inside
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: A completely bizarre, atypical, surreal, almost-metaphorical Doctor Who adventure, Time Works is one of the strongest of the Big Finish eighth Doctor stories simply by virtue of the marvelous performances of its cast. It’s not that the concept doesn’t rate as high as the acting does, but Paul McGann and company do such a great job of selling the whole thing as real that it’s worth mentioning.
Now, as for that story, it’s sort of like a metaphysical Doctor Who take on Office Space. With all the talk of efficiency and downsizing and cutbacks, Time Works mixes metaphor and horrifying reality quite effectively, while also building a big mystery – what is this place where monstrous robots walk “between the tick and the tock”?
Another mystery is…have we seen these monstrous robots elsewhere? Say, perhaps, in The Girl In The Fireplace? It’s not likely to be an explicit reference, as Time Works was written early enough to be announced in 2005 and released in early 2006, before Fireplace‘s Clockwork Robots ever hit the screen. And yet, since almost no backstory is given to that TV episode’s robots, it’s intriguing to try to figure out a connection, isn’t it?
Time Works does, however, leave one really big mystery unsolved: why is the clock tower of the city of Industry bigger inside than out? Between that and the stoppage of time, I kept biting my tongue at various points of the story to keep from blurting “Rassilon!” whenever the Doctor or his companions wondered who was behind it all. I was more than a little surprised – and pleasantly so – to discover that I wasn’t right.
That’s a nice example of what made Time Works such an engrossing listen – it never quite goes where you think it’s going to. By the end of the story, even the narrations that open each episode are turned on their ear. Time Works is one big pleasant surprise, and I can always happily recommend those to you.