What, or who, is God? It’s the question that’s been at the heart of the human condition since the beginning of time, and it’s one that lies at the core of Dale Smith’s Black Dog.
Arriving to witness a historic ‘treaty’ being signed on a soon-to-be-abandoned Earth Empire colony world, it soon becomes apparent to the Doctor and Leela that all isn’t well. Colonists and locals alike have been falling under the ‘spell’ of the planet’s god, Black Dog, for 30 years, and once caught in its grip, there’s no escape. After being attacked in the dream realm, the Black Dog’s victims slowly but surely begin to waste away until there’s nothing left of them. But when it plunges its fangs into Leela, the Doctor only has one option. He has to find a way to save his friend, and the only way to do it is by fighting and defeating a god.
Black Dog is a gripping and intriguing story that stylistically is reminiscent of Pyramids of Mars, Planet of Evil and Leela’s debut adventure, The Face of Evil. Darkly humorous and oddly beguiling, due in no small part to some of the themes it explores. It’s also an imaginative and perceptive exploration of depression. Presenting its ideas within the context of an appealing story helps address and dismiss the stigma surrounding the condition, as it impresses upon its audience that it can strike anyone, anywhere and at any time.
It also ponders the nature of theism and how it relates to, and can be driven by, the unconcious and concious desires of the faithful and believers. Is God an abstract concept, one used to identify that which we don’t understand, or a living force that exists in every living being? Smith questions these concepts and more in his story, which is brought to live by Leela herself, Louise Jameson. Thoroughly recommended.
Doctor Who Magazine