THIS EPISODE TAKES
SEQUENCE AT THE END
OF THE TV STORY "THE
CAVES OF ANDROZANI."
PAUL CORNELL &
BIG FINISH CD#91
RELEASED IN JANUARY
many years after
together have ended,
the DOCTOR AND NYSSA
meet again in the
Long ago in an English winter…
It is the final episode of Circular Time that is its most remarkable. It is set long outside the realms of time and space altogether, in the familiar (to Cornell, at least) territory of the Doctor’s head. As the fifth Doctor dies on the floor of the TARDIS, the shadow of Peri’s heaving bosom hanging over his ill-lit face, the Master springs a surprisingly sophisticated trap on his oldest rival. He tempts his foe with a spouse, a home and even children, and it’s only Nyssa – a much older Nyssa who now possesses all of the things that the Doctor subconsciously craves - that can save the moribund fifth Doctor from himself, by way of a powerful psychic link.
“Winter” is a harrowing exploration of the intricacies of regeneration; the role of the Watcher; and, most interestingly of all, the fifth Doctor’s thoughts, and perhaps even his regrets, about his peripatetic life. As an avid devourer of Cornell’s Doctor Who novels, I’ve long been rapt by the inimitable insights that he offers into the Doctor’s character, and to hear Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton actually performing an episode brazenly built upon such insights is simply spellbinding.
“He turned back once and looked around, and somehow he found where all of us were looking at him. And then he started to run. With determination; without a hint of reluctance. Because he still had things to do. He had someone to save back in the real world. He had a whole other self that he had to be to do that. He ran right into the white figure of the Watcher, and he fell...”
In terms of plot, these four stand-alone episodes are not linked other than in the most tenuous of ways, but thematically they comprise a rich and a vibrant exploration of the relationship between the Doctor and Nyssa; even, I dare say, an exploration of the fifth Doctor’s human nature. A stunning success for Cornell and Maddox, as well as for Davison and Sutton, Circular Time celebrates all that was, all that is, and all that forever will be brilliant about the Doctor.
And a love, for all seasons.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2007
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
Whilst this episode was released alongside its three seasonal siblings as part of the Circular Time release,
it actually takes place during the final moments of the fifth Doctor’s life as he prepares for his regeneration.
The episode’s dénouement merges with the fifth Doctor’s companions spurring him on (as depicted in The Caves of Androzani) as his body’s renewal begins.
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