Back in the far off ancient times of 2001, Steve Lyons wrote the brilliant main range Seventh Doctor and Ace story Colditz. In this parallel history Nazi Germany tale he introduced the character of Klein (Tracey Childs) with David Tennant playing a Nazi officer. In 2010 we were treated to a Klein trilogy in which Steve Lyons wrote the superb Architects of History. Now in 2018 Steve Lyons gives us Warlock’s Cross and I have to say up front it is a far cry from his earlier two classics, even with Klein back in the picture.
On paper this is a sure-fire winner but the reality is rather different. Let’s start with the synopsis:
It’s time the truth was told. About UNIT. About the Cybermen invasion. About the so-called ‘Doctor’. About what happened all those years ago, at Warlock’s Cross. About the man they keep locked up in a cage, in a secret prison…
It’s time. Because UNIT scientific adviser Elizabeth Klein is going to help ensure the truth is brought to light.
Today’s the day… that UNIT falls.
It all sounds very good, but this is in fact the third in a loose set of stories across three Doctors, all featuring Daniel Hopkins (Blake Harrison). Under this constraint, Steve Lyons weaves in Klein and sets a story in the relatively empty years of the 1990s. But who is Klein at this time? She’s no ex-Nazi, but nor is she quote the Klein left dangling in a trilogy with Will Arrowsmith in 2013. This Klein is a perfectly capable UNIT scientific advisor but lacks an edge.
It’s not helped by the central role of Daniel Hopkins. Post recovery from partial cyber-conversion, he is an almost soulless presence and Blake Harrison’s excellent performance does have the effect of draining some of the energy from scenes. That coupled with UNIT’s Col McKenna (Richard Gibson) who is more a throwback to the 1950s than a 1990s leader of men and the whole piece doesn’t quite work for me.
It’s a shame as there’s an interesting take on mental influence, trust and obedience and the fourth part nearly compensates for the elements I didn’t like in the first three, but overall I think this story was too constrained by fitting the Hopkins trilogy and it’s not (in my view) one of the best.