Doctor Who Review – 1001 Nights

Rating: (WARNING: Significant spoilers follow!) Here we have an interesting little anthology package of Doctor Who stories that are linked…

Chris Swanson

Contributor

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Rating: ★★★★☆

(WARNING: Significant spoilers follow!)

Here we have an interesting little anthology package of Doctor Who stories that are linked together into one greater plot. It’s an odd little contrivance that works very well and plays to the strengths of everyone involved.

The arcing story focuses on Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) being held captive by a corrupt sultan (Alexander Siddig, best known for playing Doctor Bashir on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine). He is holding the Doctor (Peter Davison), in his dungeon and forces Nyssa to tell him stories about their travels together in order to persuade him to release the Doctor. This Nyssa does, weaving a set of stories about her travels while the Doctor and the man in the cell next to his (Nadim Sawalha), make their escape.

But of course things are not what they seem, and soon Nyssa and the Doctor find themselves facing a foe who plans to not just destroy the Doctor, but to become him.

I really enjoyed this story. It’s a good, solid set of tales that stand well on their own and that work even better as a narrative whole when linked by the larger arc. Of particular note on the individual stories are one where Nyssa is possessed, and complains about how often this seems to happen, a complaint that might be a bit more valid were it coming from Tegan.

The best part of this story is that it’s one of the ones where we have just Nyssa and the Doctor travelling together. No Tegan, no Turlough (no Adric, either, but Matthew Waterhouse doesn’t seem to want to play the character again, so…). I think this is to great benefit for both characters, especially Nyssa, since she never really got that well developed on the TV series.

The only real complaint that I have about this story is that I feel it might have been more interesting as a standard Who story, without the anthology feel to it. Those little short stories worked out ok, but I think the core arc story was much stronger and would have benefited from being a full two hours.

But that minor complaint aside, this really was good, and it was quite pleasant to hear Alexander Siddig working with Big Finish again. I’m now seriously convinced that if the BBC want a non-white actor as the 12th Doctor, they should look no further than Siddig (well, unless Idris Elba is available, because DAMN). I’d love to see what Big Finish could do with a Deep Space Nine license, but since that isn’t happening, at least having Siddig appear from time to time is quite nice.

Next time, we get the origin story of Mel, one of the odder companions to the Sixth Doctor!