I had a lot to say about this story over on Kasterborous, but as promised here are some more thoughts on the middle episode of the locum doctors trilogy. Alan Barnes took on the challenge of placing the Sixth Doctor into a Second Doctor Cybermen tale, re-uniting him with Jamie and Zoe.
They met before in the Legend of the Cybermen trilogy, though circumstances were somewhat different. Nostalgia aside, how good was this story?
Big Finish paints a big, bold setting on the product page:
It’s been ten years since the final assault on Telos, the last act of the Great Cyber War. Thanks to the Glittergun, humanity prevailed – and the half-machine Cybermen were utterly obliterated.
Out on the furthest fringes of the galaxy, however, they left their mark – in the form of a giant Cyber-head, hundreds of feet high. A monument? A memorial? A tomb? The Doctor, the Cybermen’s most indefatigable adversary, sets out to investigate… but he fails to return to his TARDIS. Leaving the Ship, his two companions – brave Highlander Jamie MacCrimmon, and super-intelligent Zoe Heriot – find a stranger in the Doctor’s place. A stranger in a coat of many colours, who insists that he’s the Doctor – transposed in time and space with one of his former selves…
But why here? Why now? Has the universe really seen the last of the Cybermen..?
The Sixth Doctor arrives and quickly moves through the whole ‘who are you, what have you done with the doctor?’ piece into the action. The first three parts set up a very British expedition who are exploring the giant Cyber-head under the leadership Zennox (Lucy Liemann) who has her own reasons for exploring the relic. She is aided by a young genius named Findel (Kieran Hodgson). Amongst others they encounter what seems to be a cyberman (Lanky) but isn’t quite and go exploring under duress until finding a cyber-planner. On the way are various cybermats and a range of mathematical puzzles — as luck would have it, Findel is from the same genius academy as Zoe!
Things get bad and by the end of the third disc it all looks bleak: Zoe is now the cyber-planner, Jamie has failed to fight for freedom and the Doctor takes his own life by jumping out of a hole in the wall, hundreds of feet above ground. The fourth disc explains everything, shifts back in time, changes perspective and makes sense of everything. The story ends, history is saved, cybermen are defeated and the Doctor goes back to his own timeline.
The first three discs are light-weight, fun but lacking a certain something. The fourth disc spins the story around and is much stronger than the preceding ones. I did feel confused and the disconnect doesn’t work well in my view. The feel of the final part is much stronger than the rest and I would have preferred the whole story had been told that way. Nice back-story for Zoe and a decent tale that (parts 1-3) felt of the period being emulated. A big plus is the sound-scape — Nigel Fairs does a very good job with sound and music and is a big plus for this story.
As to the switch of Doctors I do hope June’s Secret History does make sense of it all (I am assured it does, in a way that may not be expected) so I will suspend opinions. I have found the acceptance of the situation less than compelling.
We have no more clues (to add to the zero from last month’s Defectors) meaning we have no real idea what is going on overall. Figures crossed this all makes sense in the end. At the moment I’ve found it fun but not convincing. It’s all down to Eddie Robson!