April 2013 saw the release of Eldrad Must Die! (by Marc Platt) the first in a trilogy of Fifth Doctor stories featuring Nyssa, Tegan and Turlough. I had some expectation for this trilogy – a Paul Magrs tale along with Jonathan Morris competing the series and we are promised the Nyssa back-story. On top of all that the first story included Eldrad who hitherto only appeared in the Fourth Doctor story Hand of Fear. How was the trilogy? Find out…
Marc Platt set the wheels in motion with a highly enjoyable story entitled Eldrad Must Die!. We have plenty of silicon shenanigans in a well paced story with plenty of characters as well as the regular crew. Nyssa is somewhat underused apart from a swimming with whales scene and some rescues near the end; apart from that she largely gets possessed (again). Tegan is on fire (not literally) and works well in tandem with Turlough; Turlough has the best role in terms of his being taken over and having lots of interior scenes in his imagination with the TARDIS crew and others taking on strange roles.
Peter Davison turns in some really subtle acting as well – none of it is ‘in your face’ but absolutely rock-solid all the way through (or should that be quartz-solid?!) and adds to an atmospheric story with some good soundscapes and plenty to feed the imagination.
The tricky second story of the trilogy was Paul Magrs’s The Lady of Mercia in which we get treated to a spot of medieval history and some duck ponds (listen to the CD extras) and Tegan takes the greatest part in this when she goes back in time and gets to be royalty. The trilogy is focussing on each companion in turn and Nyssa has very little to do here. Turlough manages to make the part of tea boy work with a dry humour and the story passes managing to entertain and inform in equal measure.
In style this is similar to a farce – I mean that in a good way – and the Doctor joins in the fun near the end when needing something miraculous to happen (like a time machine appearing just in time). We have Northumbrian Danes with Geordie accents and this is one of Paul Magrs’s better Big Finish pieces.
The trilogy concludes with Jonathan Morris giving us Prisoners of Fate which also wraps up the Nyssa arc that began in Cobwebs. Just for fun it also links back to several other stories including Circular Time. The first two parts are superbly atmospheric and creative – what is at the heart of the Valderon fortress? What is Sibor’s plan? Nyssa is also put in an appalling situation – what if she hadn’t returned back home after Cobwebs and her children grew up without a mother? To top it all the second part ends with a really cunning idea too good to spoil.
The third and fourth parts are mostly about paradoxes and whilst well executed Nyssa’s has to make some dreadful choices which get dismissed too rapidly for me. The story also seems to be tying up every loose end it can and writing Nyssa out. Criticism aside this is a good story and fights Lady of Mercia for the best of the trilogy.
Really three stories each highlighting one of the companions. Lady of Mercia is my personal favourite though Jonathan Morris does some amazingly clever things with Prisoners of Fate. Whether or not we will get this line-up in the near future is unknown – Nyssa does reappear for the 1963 range title Fanfare for the Common Men in September 2013.
Another enjoyable trilogy; unlike 2012’s Seventh Doctor trilogy (reviewed The Black and White Trilogy) I have no sense of what next. This story seemed to close doors and not open any new ones.
Over to you – what did you think? Which was your favourite title of these three?