Fans were stunned, excited and slightly confused when the BBC announced a brand new Blu-ray release titled Doctor Who – Time Lord Victorious: The Road to the Dark Times. After all, it had the Tenth Doctor on the cover! And the Seventh Doctor! And the Fourth Doctor! What on earth was this release, and what did it contain?
If you’ve been living in the Void and haven’t heard about Time Lord Victorious, it’s a new multi-media story told across CDs, books, animations and comics, and stars multiple Doctors (and in some cases – Daleks!) It’s set during the Dark Times at the start of the universe, and features a sinister Ood and a malevolent race known as the Kotturuh (also known as the Bringers of Death) amongst others. It also uses the Tenth Doctor’s self-proclaimed title from the episode ‘The Waters of Mars’ where he declared: “I’m the winner. That’s who I am. The Time Lord Victorious.”
With this in mind, what are we to make of the new Road to the Dark Times Blu-ray set? Well, it’s a collection of Doctor Who stories from the BBC vaults that you may or may not have seen before. Namely: ‘Planet of the Daleks,’ ‘Genesis of the Daleks,’ ‘The Deadly Assassin,’ ‘State of Decay,’ ‘The Cure of Fenric,’ ‘The Runaway Bride,’ and the aforementioned ‘The Waters of Mars.’ These tales, apparently, chart the Doctor’s path towards the new multi-media story.
But how, exactly? And why have these tales been chosen to represent The Road to the Dark Times? Well, the Blu-ray itself will contain a guide to every story, giving more context on how each one fits into the larger Time Lord Victorious narrative.
But until then, here’s some background intel to whet your appetite…
Planet of the Daleks (1973)
I must admit, I’m not entirely sure how this story fits into The Road to the Dark Times! There are Daleks (spoiler alert) who certainly feature in the Time Lord Victorious narrative. In this story, there’s a whole frozen army buried inside a mountain. The Time Lords also get a brief mention, as the Doctor contacts them via the TARDIS’ telepathic circuits. Then there are the Thals (old enemies of the Daleks, and one-time inhabitants of the planet Skaro) plus the mysterious, invisible Spiridons, who have been enslaved by the metal mutants.
Genesis of the Daleks (1975)
As the title suggests, this story is all about the Daleks’ origins, and the Time Lords send the Fourth Doctor down to the planet Skaro to try and prevent their creation by the demented Davros. This is one of the first instances in the show’s history where we see the Time Lords engaging in hostile action against the metal mutants, hinting at the later, more deadly conflict that would culminate in the Time War. Will the tension that exists between these two races be a key plot point for The Road to the Dark Times?
The Deadly Assassin (1977)
This story is all set on Gallifrey – the Time Lords’ home planet – and centres on an evil plot to assassinate its president. There’s politics, corruption, and an evil plan by the Doctor’s old enemy the Master. Basically, he’s trying to harness the power of the Eye of Harmony (an energy source, which is actually the nucleus of a black hole) in order to regenerate his dying body.
In addition, this is the first time in the series’ history that we encounter the Matrix – a vast data network which is unique to Gallifrey. But maybe ‘The Deadly Assassin’ has been included in The Road to the Dark Times because of the Master, who himself features in Time Lord Victorious in the short stories ‘Lesser Evils’ and ‘Master Thief.’
State of Decay (1980)
This is another Fourth Doctor adventure. ‘State of Decay’ takes place in an alternate universe known as E-space, and it’s all about the race of Great Vampires – ancient enemies of the Time Lords. In our universe, there was an epic battle known as the Eternal War (which took place during the Dark Times) and this resulted in one of the most powerful Vampires escaping to E-Space. Apparently, these creatures can only be killed by a certain type of metal bowship designed by Rassilon, who was one of Gallifrey’s founding fathers.
The Curse of Fenric (1989)
‘The Curse of Fenric’ is a Doctor Who story so complex that it makes ‘The Big Bang’ look like a Saturday morning cartoon. The eponymous villain (Fenric) is one of the great manipulators of time, the universe, and everything. He’s ancient, and thought to be as old as the universe itself. He has a place on The Road to the Dark Times by virtue of his age!
The Runaway Bride (2006)
This story sees the Tenth Doctor battling the Empress of the Racnoss – a giant spider-like being who’s hell-bent on reviving her dormant race, which is buried in the centre of the Earth. Again, this takes us back to a time before the planet was formed, with the Racnoss’ ship becoming an integral part of Earth’s construction.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that the Racnoss will feature in Time Lord Victorious, but the species certainly has a place on The Road to the Dark Times. Indeed, it was during the Dark Times that the Racnoss nearly met their end in a long, bitter war with the Time Lords’ and their fledgling empires.
The Waters of Mars (2009)
As mentioned previously, it’s in this story that the Doctor first uses the name Time Lord Victorious. He achieves an almost god-like status (or at least, he thinks he does.) He resolves to see the universe run by his rules, and his alone, even going so far as to fight time itself by intervening in the events of Bowie Base One in the year 2059.
At this point, The Road to the Dark Times is clearly mapped. The Doctor is the Time Lord Victorious, and he plans to let the universe know.
So, now that you know what to expect from this latest Doctor Who release, has it persuaded you to pick up a copy of The Road to the Dark Times? And if you haven’t seen these stories before, which ones are you most curious to view? Let me know in the comments below.
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