The Legacy of Time.

Audio The Legacy of Time is Big Finish's giant 20th anniversary Whogasm, an epic six-part story set across time and space bringing together characters from the classic series, revival and the audio company's own creations.  As with previous similar efforts it shows the company at its most ambitiously self referential, entirely accepting of the ludicrousness of the endeavour and for the most part providing just the sort of continuity references the television series is and should be reticent to deliver.  Reader, I squeed in a way I haven't squeed since 2013.  Eighth appears in two of the installments and is adjacent to another.  Full synopses of the other installments at Big Finish's sales page.  Time and again you'll ask yourself, "They recorded that?"  Yes, yes they did and it's brilliant, so brilliant that I'm going to break format a little bit and crack open a few more paragraphs.

Lies in Ruins

Each of the episodes opens with the title music for its particular era and after the first meeting of River Song and Bernice Summerfield when the Time War theme plays in we can tell already that the Eighth who appears here will be from close to the end of his life.  Sure enough, this is Eighth at his most fractured, the conflict having triggered an existential crisis that causes him to even forget his two friends.  He's essentially become the "future" version we heard in the Mary Shelley portion of A Company of Friends.  As River explains to Benny, this incarnation of the Doctor has lived a very, very long time (although given the number of missing stories and interpolations which have been added to the lives of the other incarnations over the years, that's probably true of all them).

The focus of the story stays with the archaeologists for the most part and their reaction to his new companion Ria (James Goss poignantly borrowing an idea Paul Abbott had for the slot in the 2005 tv series ultimately filled by Boomtown) (#spoilers) and their reaction to just how much their friend has changed.  Make no mistake, this is the outlier Eighth Doctor, the one who crops up now and then, in places like The Ancestor Cell, Scherzo and Dark Eyes when he's experienced a crisis so large and of a kind which his predecessors rarely have and he's simply broken.  Much like his successors, he feels everything.  If the Fifth Doctor had reacted like this about the death of Adric, Tegan and Turlough would have been stuck on the Eye of Orion watching him meditate forever.

So whilst on the one hand this pitches itself as the long awaited meeting of River and Bernice (even though it isn't really for spoiler reasons) it's also an explanation for how the Eighth Doctor became almost the version who turns up in his regeneration story having realised that it's about time he became involved.  In placement terms, I'm not sure if this means were supposed to assume this happens before or after the Big Finish boxed sets (and James Goss says that it's deliberately left unspecified), but I'm going to be bold and say its afterwards, that we're supposed to assume this is as close as odds to Night of the Doctor as we're likely to get.  That said, with the status quo as it is at the end, there's definitely some wiggle room for some more adventures.

The Avenues of Possibility

It's not really a spoiler to say that The Legacy of Time does not give us the long awaited reunion of Charley and Eighth, each discovering that the other is either alive or not in fact in a grump with him.  Instead we have this squeesome addition to the Edwardian adventuress's time with Sixy, a period which wouldn't otherwise merit a mention here, except for a stunning moment, and this is a spoiler, when she has to tell Eighth's predecessor all about their adventures together.  A continuity festival (of death) heavy on their first two seasons together, writer Jonathan (The Tomorrow Windows) Morris offering a pretty deep dive which had me punching the air.

It's hard to credit that some of these stories were recorded in just a couple of weeks nearly twenty years ago and that Charley originally began travelling with Sixth back in 2008, such is the longevity of the Big Finish enclave of the franchise.  India Fisher is utterly brilliant here as Charley recalls some of the good and bad times, finally able to tell this other incarnation all the things she's been wanting to, the story fitting perfectly in that "era".  But good lord, with Lucie Miller back in boxed sets, any chance of some new Eighth and Charley stories too?  Or at least something to resolve that cliffhanger?  Please?

Collision Course

As with all similar multi-Doctor stories, the Eighth Doctor turns up at the end to lend a hand.  Despite the man depicted on the cover and in his own episode, this doesn't feel like the Time War version, assuming you can tell as much from the few lines of dialogue he has here.  If anything, at least one joke suggests he's from a much earlier period but I really don't know.  So I'll still put it with the Time War stories anyway. if only because it looks neater.  To be honest he's rather overshadowed by other cameos, but I think to reveal how here would be unfair.  I'll just end by wishing Big Finish a happy birthday and to thank them for all the fan service they've supplied to us across the years.

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