Unit 1.1 – Time Heals

Not every Big Finish spinoff can be as compelling as Dalek Empire or Gallifrey, I suppose.

Have a trailer.

It’s a reasonable concept: a day in the life of UNIT, with convoy hijackings, alien technology, rogue military organisations, investigative reporters, time glitches, missing COs, friction between senior officers, and major disasters to avert. That all sounds very exciting, but the execution is lacklustre, both in terms of the audio and in terms of UNIT’s performance. They mill around aimlessly until they get a message from the retired Brigadier, er, General, Sir Alistair, who’s done their homework for them and located those responsible. Dalton gets called away to avert one disaster among dozens, and… well, not to spoil it, but Chaudhry doesn’t have much to show at her end, apart from recovering one piece of UNIT’s stolen property which an enemy obligingly tosses back to her.

Sir Alistair, listening to the evening news, lauds UNIT for a job well done. But how much impact did they really have on the day’s events?

Even had the plot been less of a mess, the regulars haven’t grabbed me. Colonel Emily Chaudhry (Siri O’Neal) seems oddly out of her depth for UNIT’s experienced second-in-command, scolding her new co-CO (?) Colonel Dalton for being clueless, yet when faced with unexplained phenomena, all she can do is tell her underlings, “analyse everything!” Dalton has a little more personality, but I can’t believe someone appointed to take over UNIT would refuse to read any reports on what UNIT does or even find out about the current mission-gone-wrong. Also, it’s confusing to be making such a big deal about a third Colonel, Sir Not Appearing in This Story Brimmicombe-Wood (David Tennant), who didn’t appear in The Coup either. He was introduced in the alternate-timeline Sympathy for the Devil, but how many listeners of that obscure audio bought this one, too?

This is the second UNIT story, and it’s already suffering continuity problems which I’ll explain in the spoiler section below. I enjoyed snooping on Sir Alistair’s personal life, but I’m not sure that’s sufficient justification to include him in this story.

Finally, despite some unethical scientists ranting on the great strides they’re about to make, I’m not convinced Time “healed” anybody.

Spoilerific Comments

UNIT: The Coup presented a sea change in the Doctor Who universe: the whole world found out that aliens are real. That story ended with the Prime Minister on his way to meet the Silurian ambassador. The pilot seemed to be setting up a great idea: UNIT, alien experts, brokering the first human-Silurian alliance and fending off xenophobes. But this story completely forgets that promising premise. The Silurian? Dismissed as a “man in a rubber suit.”

Talk about a reset button! And this audio has one, too.

In Time Heals, thousands of people die in what the country believes to be terrorist attacks on a far greater scale than 7/7, which happened just 5 months before this audio was released. In Time Heals, trains crash, airplanes crash (“a number of other incidents happening simultaneous to this one,”) the banking system crashes, and a 9/11 style plane attack destroys a chunk of Windsor Castle along with “the prince” and another royal. You can’t tell me that the evening news would’ve amounted to, “Ho hum, everything’s calmed down now, something fishy about that submarine, what?” without any follow up reports on all those crashes or the death of the future King of England.

UNIT couldn’t be blamed for any of that, but that’s just the point: most of the events in this story took place without their intervention.

They don’t avert a single crash. They don’t arrive until after the enemy scientists have scuppered their own experiment and one of them has made off with the data.

I know Britain is far less likely than the United States to fly off the handle at supposed Muslim terrorist attacks, but the social, political, economic and military repercussions of terrorism and death on this scale, just a few months after 7/7, would be huge, not the sort of thing Lethbridge-Stewart would brush off as “saving the world.” Yet the final news report seems to imply Britain is returning to business as usual by the end of the day.

And speaking of the Silurians, wouldn’t there be finger-pointing in their direction, too, since humanity just learned the unnerving fact that the oceans are inhabited by an alien civilisation? They seem the most obvious scapegoat, a handy explanation for UNIT mucking around with that sub. Which, incidentally, shouldn’t have been carrying anywhere near enough fuel to cause a Chernobyl-sized meltdown.

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