The middle of 2013 gave us a late period Seventh Doctor trilogy seeing the return of Elizabeth Klein (Tracy Childs). This time we have a new companion, Will Arrowsmith as played by Christian Edwards. The trilogy gave us another chance to reflect on the original Klein trilogy and also the McCoy Doctor as a whole. With that in mind, how did the three stories work together and what did we learn? More importantly were they worth listening to?
The Stories themselves
Persuasion by Jonathan Barnes: this sets in motion a re-union between Klein and the Seventh Doctor which has more than an air of distrust about it. Klein is unsure (as usual) of the Doctor’s motives as they set off back to last day’s of the Third Reich. They are on the trail of Schalk who has invented a Persuasion device and amongst he many parties interested in this are a pair of gods from another universe who spend their time talking in sonnets. The ending is somewhat confused and Klein herself is not to the fore in this tale which seemed at time’s formulaic though the dynamic was saved by the presence of Will Arrowsmith the geeky accidental traveller. Will works at UNIT for Klein and ends up in the TARDIS by mistake. His presence allows Klein and the Doctor to re-explore their relationship and we get some rather obvious scenes where the Doctor allows Will to take the lead to build his confidence.
There are some good points in this (a galaxy in the TARDIS for example) but overall this is not the strongest part of the trilogy.
Starlight Robbery by Matt Fitton: I already reviewed this for Starburst as I mentioned here. This is a strong central story that is complete in its own right, gives Klein and Will plenty to do and carries the trilogy through to the final story. Matt Fitton re-uses Garundel from Black and White and for me he works much better in this story. Not content with all that we also get a really strong minor character in the form of the Krakenmother an aggressive warlord from a race of genocidal maniacs.
This is all balanced with some humour and some very dark moments. Great stuff!
Daleks Among Us by Alan Barnes: this story brings together all the pieces and whereas Starlight Robbery is one of the best releases so far in 2012 this is possibly the worst. From the initial scenes where drunken Klein defeats a lone Dalek to combinations of clones and some random performances by many of the main characters this story is a jumble at best. DocOho also has lots to say about this story on his review site here.
It centres on Azimuth, a planet where 20 years earlier the Doctor and Ace led the fight against the Daleks. Now all is forbidden and the planet lives in denial not knowing that both Davros and the Daleks are among them. Into the mix comes Nazis and the revelation of Klein’s origins and purpose (her history having been re-written in The Architects of History. Despite some good scenes this is a badly flawed tale that manages only in resetting Klein and her relationship with the Doctor.
I can’t reconcile the three stories. Persuasion sets out some themes that Starlight builds on and adds to. Where Daleks Among Us fails is that it seems to exist almost without knowledge of how Starlight was written. We have characters such as Will Arrowsmith developing then seemingly going backward. Klein is patchy throughout thought Tracey Childs herself is good in performance and also gets to play her own Nazi mother. Having really enjoyed UNIT: Dominion, Colditz and Architects of History this trilogy disappoints.
It seems as thought the path has been laid out for Klein and Will to stay on the TARDIS though the whole raison d’être for Klein has been almost expunged. Will also needs a plot that isn’t boy meets girl, girl gets gratuitously shot.
I hate being disappointed given how much I spend on these releases and the effort I know goes into them. I don’t expect to like everything bit in this case there are real failings. Thankfully September gives us two releases!