Between April and June 2012 we were treated to a Fifth Doctor trilogy with the full crew of Tegan, Turlough and Nyssa. Attentive readers may have noticed that the Fifth Doctor isn’t my favourite and I hadn’t been looking forward to these as much as I had the previous trilogy (reviewed here). I’m pleased to say that I have been very pleasantly surprised at how good these three stories have been, so without further fuss let’s dive in and discuss…
The Emerald Tiger absolutely trilled and impressed. Written and directed by Barnaby Edwards this unashamed tribute / pastiche of everything from Conan Doyle, Burroughs, Haggard, Verne in fact anyone from this period (check out nearly every character’s name) is set in India where Nyssa becomes infected with a condition that will turn here into a Tiger (think Loup-Garoux with Tigers and in India). Needless to say this is all down to a lost world and a crashed alien ship. The action is great, Tegan has lot’s to do, Nyssa gets rejuvenated and it is a magnificent spiffing tale. Even a few months later this is still a strong candidate for release of the year.
The Jupiter Conjunction was nearly but not quite as good. This tale of the people hitching a ride on a comet to get to Jupiter from Earth cheaply not knowing all the time that Jovians are being used to help fuel an impending war between Earth and the colonies. This is well put together even though it looks like a standard base under siege story. I like the part where the Doctor is arrested as there have been numerous thefts only something like a TARDIS could commit; he gets access to security recording, cleans them up and ends up incriminating himself. Turlough appears to turn traitor and Nyssa gets to help save the day. The final ‘is she dead’ part didn’t convince (they rarely do) but Peter Davison is nonetheless excellent throughout.
The Butcher of Brisbane was another fantastically crafted product including a tremendous soundtrack from Fool Circle Productions. Marc Platt makes a superb job of getting the Fifth Doctor to meet Magnus Greel before he met the Fourth Doctor in Talons of Wang-Chiang (reviewed here). This is a busy story with the four TARDIS crew, Greel, a new villain Dr Sa Yy Findecke the scientist behind the ultimately doomed Zygma Energy experiments, Icelandic delegates and news reporters. The traditional separation of Doctor and Companion is managed by send Turlough and Nyssa back in time three years and episode one ends with a surprise that I certainly didn’t see coming. Almost every element of Talons gets explained which towards the end does feel slightly like an exercising in complete-ism, however this is a minor complaint. Tegan continues to impress and Fielding / Davison spar off each other well as they explore what the perspective of a Time Lord is. Bonus points as well for getting the Doctor not to be established as The Doctor when he interacts with Greel.
If you want a longer review of Butcher, there is a good one on www.thetimescales.com.
I’m very impressed with this Trilogy which (Spare Parts aside) ranks as my favourite set of Big Finish Fifth Doctor stories. As I have said here, the quality and breadth of material this year is setting the bar very high for the future.
Which of these tales is the best? Ask me again in a few months. Was it a ‘proper’ trilogy? Maybe not, the tales had no real connecting thread apart from Nyssa getting rejuvenated which didn’t influence other stories in much detail.
Anyway, that’s what I think, over to you – were they really that good? Which was your favourite?