Doctor Who
Project: Twilight


Starring: Colin Baker
Big Finish Productions
ISBN 1 903654 45 9, BFPDWCD7CE
Available now

In a dingy corner of South-east London, the Doctor and Evelyn discover a gruesome trail of eviscerated animal corpses and witness a brutal assault. Medical assistance comes from the unlikely source of the Dusk, a local casino operated by some rather peculiar individuals...

Brit-flick gangster drama meets science fantasy and horror in this unusually gritty production. The more gruesome-sounding moments include a scene in which a tortured character's fingers are broken one by one. Another, more fantastical incident, presumably inspired by the movie Blade, has a man being inflated and then exploded as the after-effect of a bizarre weapon.

The crime-drama aspect is personified in the character of Reggie "the Gent" Mead, one of the Dusk's co-owners, who is played with brutal intensity by former The Cops star Rob Dixon. His overt thuggery is offset by the plummier tones of his partner in crime Amelia Doory (Holly de Jong). The eccentric combination of characters brings to mind some of Doctor Who's more off-beat adventures, such as Revelation of the Daleks. The characters' strange properties and abilities also reminded me of Ghost Light, although I have to confess that the latter association was probably planted in my mind by the character name Nimrod. The Nimrod in this story, however, a shadowy antagonist of the Dusk's personnel, played in a sinister turn by Stephen Chance, is an entirely different - though equally odd - character to Ghost Light's Neanderthal.

The precise nature of the Dusk's inhabitants remains shrouded in mystery up until the climax of the story's second episode (provided that you don't read the CD sleeve notes by writers Cavan Scott and Mark Wright beforehand). The cliffhanging revelation had me kicking myself for not spotting the subtle clues. Had I been reviewing just the first half of this production, then I would have given it 8 or 9 out of 10.

As it is, the revelation is also an explanation that deprives the drama of much of its magic. The end result is firmly rooted in familiar Who territory, and finishes up being a more run-of-the-mill affair, although Scott and Wright do succeed in putting an original spin on an aspect of the series' mythology.

If you have heard or read anything about Project: Twilight, then the cat may already be out of the bag as far as the enjoyment of any mystery is concerned. That would be a shame, because the enigmatic first half of this project is definitely its better half.

Richard McGinlay