Valley of Death reviewed

With Foe From the Future, this two CD story originally written by Philip Hinchcliffe is part of the Fourth Doctor Boxset of Lost Stories. Adapted by Jonathan Morris, it is described by director Ken Bentley in the extras as bonkers. Does it deserve this, and does it matter?

Let’s find out…

The story

An intriguing summary on the product page has this to say:

A century after his Great-Grandfather Cornelius vanished in the Amazon rainforest, Edward Perkins is journeying to the depths of the jungle to find out what became of his ancestor’s lost expedition. Intrigued by what appears to be a description of a crashed spacecraft in the diaries of that first voyage, the Doctor and Leela join him on his quest. But when their plane runs into trouble and ends up crash landing, everyone gets more than they bargained for.

The jungle is filled with giant creatures and angry tribesmen, all ready to attack. But in the famed lost city of the Maygor tribe, something far, far worse is lurking. Something with an offer to make to mankind. Who are the Lurons and can they be trusted? Will the Doctor defeat the plans of the malevolent Godrin or will he become just another victim of the legendary Valley of Death?

This is very much a story in two acts. The first act is all set in the Amazon and has Edward Perkins (Anthony Howell) travelling to the jungle in search of his great-grandfather. He is accompanied by the Doctor and Leela and the action moves swiftly to an aeroplane graveyard and thence to strange giant insects, aliens, a golden city, an Oz-Like god and alien technology. Time is not as it should be and great-grandfather Cornelius (David Killick) is still on the scene. The Doctor saves the day and everyone (including alien Godrin (Nigel Carrington)) heads back to London. Cue the second disc.

Enter a big UNIT vs. aliens story with more than a smattering of The Android Invasion. This is where, to quote Ken Bentley, the story goes bonkers. We have a massive under-crewed spaceship and a complex (and not quite convincing) plot element concerning the alien’s home star. It all gets more and more preposterous but is never other than great fun. Once the Doctor saves the day there is actually a mostly happy ending for most of the players – something that doesn’t always happen and the story should be commended for that.

The storytelling

Although the scenes involving the alien star get increasingly mad, there is plenty here to enjoy. The character of Edward Perkins is nicely flawed and put up against journalist Valerie Carlton (Jane Slavin) works as a well conceived character. The UNIT types are all rather simply drawn but it fights a story that feels very much of the intended era. All good stuff!

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