don't do "big" arcs. They want their releases to be as accessible as
possible and not suffer from the impenetrability of the EDAs and the NAs.
But they do do little arcs and "Arrangements For War" is more "arcy" than
almost any "past Doctor adventure". Much of the character detail relies on
the listener having heard "Project: Lazarus", which itself was a sequel
to, and required knowledge of, "Project: Twilight". It was there that we
learned of Evelyn's bad heart, it was there that she saw what she
perceived as a callous and alien side to the Doctor's nature and it was
those final events which drove the wedge between them that "Arrangements
For War" strongly hints will be permanent. I don't have the BF website to
hand so I don't know if Evelyn has long been confirmed as returning in the
future but listening to AFW without any future knowledge would suggest she
Future knowledge is, of course, a key element to the story. The Doctor
knows what is going to happen because he's the Doctor and Evelyn knows
because she still believes what he says. When a bit of friendly advice
turns out to put the future in jeopardy the Doctor and Evelyn get dragged
into the political machinations of the locals.
The story happens over the course of several weeks and the passage of time
is very well conveyed by the use of audio montages of news broadcast sound
bites. Much tedious explanation is avoided by this clever device and its
all too real presentation makes it more believable. There is something
strange about the Doctor being on television (or, as in "The Fearmonger"
on the radio) instead of merely being involved with big events but on a
The guest cast are
variable. The Princess treads a fine line between the traditional helpless
damsel and the modern kick-ass chick, her beloved Marcus has a slightly
wooden Scots accent (aliens should be English, don't they know that?) and
the thug Pokol is straight out of Lock, Stock. On the other hand Philip
Bretherton is as good as the scheming Plenipotentiary Suskind despite the
part being a bit half heartedly written and Gabriel Wolfe as Rossiter is
magnificent. His unique voice is every bit as good on audio as it was in
Pyramids of Mars. It is a testament to his skills as an actor that the
same voice which was so malevolent can now be so caring and gentle.
My only real qualm is that it is sometimes hard to know where everyone is
at any given time. There are three countries bordering each other and the
action moves between them. I dare say it would be possible to keep track
if one kept a pen, paper and map to hand but listening to it in bed was a
tad confusing. Not that it really matters - the three countries are all
more or less the same. It's only each Kingdom's lone representative - the
Princess, Suskind and Rossiter- which offers any kind of differentiation.
But with travel so quick and easy between each state it isn't really
Nor is "good" and "evil". The approaching Killorans are evil (as far as we
know) and Suskind is amoral but everyone else is just playing games with
soldiers and politics. They have reasons, within that game, for opposing
the Doctor and aren't to know any different because he's not allowed to
tell them what is about to happen.
It's a very enjoyable story - don't be put off by the idea of a Doctor Who
romantic tale. It's more of an allegory of 16th century politics played
with twenty first century weapons. You know the outcome before it happens
but there are twists along the way. The episodes are fairly long but it
doesn't feel overly padded.
Before departing my pedantic streak insists that I ask why, when there is
only one continent, the countries bothered developing navies? It was a
throw away line of no consequence but it did make me wonder...