Image Credit: BBC (Fair Use)
Image Description: The cover of Time Lord Victorious: Road to the Dark Times
By John Salway
Name: Time Lord Victorious: Road to the Dark Times
Current TLV investment: £182.85
Possibly one of the more curious releases in the Time Lord Victorious calendar, Road to the Dark Times is a compilation Blu-Ray box set of various Doctor Who TV episodes that have referenced the Dark Times or in some way inspired the events of the greater Time Lord Victorious story.
I won’t get into providing a review of each story, or we’ll be here for weeks, but it’s a fairly inoffensive spread of stories I think most fans would class as good or better. Together they form more than a season’s worth of Doctor Who, making for quite a good value purchase, provided you don’t plan on subsequently getting any of the Collection box sets containing these stories, of course.
As for extras, there are none, bar a short booklet providing extra canonical context to each story and a justification as to why each story has been included in this set. This isn’t too much of a let-down given the set’s low price point, and I certainly wasn’t expecting any new material, but it would have been nice if some special features from previous releases could have been snuck in.
Some stories are obvious choices for the set’s theme. The Waters of Mars, for instance, which coined the range’s title, or State of Decay, which introduces the race of vampires that the Ninth Doctor has encountered in the Monstrous Beauty comic strip. Others have more tenuous links, at least for the time being! The Curse of Fenric, for instance, features an ancient enemy of the Doctor’s but no explicit Dark Times connection, whatever the booklet may tell you.
A couple of the episodes also suffer when removed from their usual context. The first story in the set, Planet of the Daleks, is a direct continuation from a preceding story which isn’t included, so first-time viewers may wonder why we begin with the Doctor gravely injured. Similarly, State of Decay is usually the second of a linked trilogy of stories and begins with new companion Adric stowed away aboard the TARDIS, which may confuse less experienced Whovians. These would have been helpful points to clear up in the accompanying pamphlet, but they aren’t mentioned.
All in all, I’m not really sure who Road to the Dark Times is for. In some ways it seems to be aimed at the hardcore enthusiast, who is actively interested in the Time Lord Victorious lore and wants to tie it into a bigger picture within Doctor Who, but any such fan is likely to have these stories already, and probably with bonus features too. In other ways, it seems to target the more casual fan, providing a sampling of different Who eras at a reasonable price, but it lacks the little bit of extra effort that could have made it a really effective starting point. As such, I fear in the long run it may be destined to be looked on as a mere curiosity…