Doctor Who: Out of Time 2 – The Gates of Hell
Starring: David Tennant, Peter Davison, Shelley Conn, Nicholas Briggs, and Mark Gatiss
Written by: David Llewellyn
Directed by: Ken Bentley
“YOU’RE brilliant!” “WE’RE brilliant. You know, apart from the circumstances, I’m actually quite enjoying this.” ” YEAH!” “It’s nice to have a moment where its about quiet reflection and research, and not all about explosions and running around…” *EXPLOSION SOUNDS!*
Paris becomes a Cyber-battleground in the thrilling yet endearing Doctor Who: Out of Time 2 – The Gates of Hell – the sophomore installment of Big Finish Productions’ Out of Time trilog—pitting David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor (as he avoids his foretold regeneration in The End of Time) with Classic Doctors and facing them against fan-favorite monsters.
In 1809, Peter Davison’s warm, focused Fifth Doctor tours the Catacombs with sassy Time Agent, Tina Drake (the charmingly strident Shelly Conn). And is trapped for nearly 150 years in a Cyber-controlled status chamber for his troubles by a Cyber-Scout (played with mechanical perfection by Nicholas Briggs). This time it’s The Invasion-era Cybermen who have gained two footholds in Paris across time.
Meanwhile, in 1944, David Tennant’s manically charming Tenth Doctor overshoots his landing. He is instantly faced with Occupied France and retreats into the Catacombs himself – only to be faced with his former incarnation, resulting in a paradox that ensures total Cyber-domination of the Earth!
Despite this installment’s slightly knotty plotting, Out of Time 2 still shines as a “multi-Doctor” team-up. Naturally, much of that shine is due to Tennant and Davison’s instantly charming chemistry. First displayed in the Children In Need special “Time Crash” but greatly expanded on throughout Out of Time 2.
Critically, David Llewellyn’s script brings an entirely different energy to the table in this installment. While the opening story was more introspective, Out of Time 2 shifts upward constantly. They drive both Doctors near a breathless pace as they work to unravel the mystery at the center of the Cybermen’s plans. Plans include King Charles VI, the infamous Paris Catacombs, and ghoulish, real-life history. All packaged in a time-bending story only Doctor Who could provide.
And yet, as the quote at the top of this review illustrates, writer Llewellyn and director Ken Bentley still allow Davison and Tennant’s sparklingly sweet dynamic to take center stage where they can. Though much more set-piece driven than the opening story, Out of Time 2 still takes the time to allow the Fifth and Tenth Doctors some wonderful exchanges. And more than a few heady shout-outs to other Classic Era stories and characters. Tegan Jovanka fans amongst you, take note.
Nevertheless, despite the story’s brisk pace, Out of Time 2 succeeds. Just with plenty more flash and explosions along the way. Though it might have been nice to get a bit more emotional weight behind the talks between Davison and Tennant, Doctor Who: Out of Time 2 – The Gates of Hell is a splashy, blockbuster-level Doctor Who team-up.