The two stories Warzone and Conversion conclude a Fifth Doctor trilogy that introduced new companion Marc in Tartarus. Like October’s Interstitial / Feast of Fear it’s a pair of two-part stories, though in this case more tightly coupled. We also have two writers more familiar to Big Finish listeners. The cover gives away a lot (implied by the word conversion) and we aren’t surprised at how much Adric still hovers above the Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan and this point. Let’s chat (spoilers or course) …
Chris Chapman gives the TARDIS team a chance to get some exercise in Warzone. For the first half it’s a skit on the world of marathon running mixed with tough mudder – everyone does marathons because they’re the done thing but these have survival tests built in. It starts light-hearted then gets very dark indeed as we realise none of the new arrivals has the necessary race equipment including a device to stop them getting hurt.
Marc gets to be suitably heroic until he gets carried away and injured. The tone turns dark as Tegan realises something is wrong with Marc’s hospital treatment. The Doctor has befriended a serious competitor who drops bits of exposition in a none too obvious and a slowly a bit of exercise becomes a mission to save a world from cyberconversion!
Nyssa has a chance to be different as well. She races with a novelty runner who really doesn’t enjoy it at all and she gets to bond with him as they work together to first survive then save the day.
Meanwhile Janet Fielding and Peter Davison really get to push their characters emotionally and the scene is set for…
Guy Adams wraps up this run with Conversion. It’s a race against time to save Marc from cyberconvsersion, and the foreground story has a great alien medic, drone, cybermen, dodgy dealing scarp collectors and a lot more besides. And yet it’s all window dressing allowing Tegan and the Doctor to get to the very core of the impact of Adric’s death, pushes the Doctor to extremes in some cases and takes the story to an ending I at least didn’t expect.
It’s a very good piece of writing and a hugely creative piece of production as well.
Looking back on Peter Davison’s time on the TV you can’t help but wish he’d had material of this calibre to work with, and hope the impact of failure on the Doctor continues to get explored, perhaps in our current TV incarnation?