Steve Lyons’ tale of mystery and intrigue finally allows us to see one of the many meetings between the Time Lord and the master of illusion which have been referenced at various times across the show’s history. It’s an interesting TARDIS crew to pick – with his penchant for deceit, one might have thought that Turlough would have been an obvious choice to include in a tale about the fundamentals of illusion.
As I’d hoped when reviewing the fourth chapter of this saga, producer John Ainsworth has sensibly incorporated the Eleventh Doctor element much earlier in proceedings this time around. If you’re listening to the whole story, you know that the Matt Smith incarnation is popping up via some form of communication to ask his earlier selves to act differently regarding the disposal of certain items – it’s about time we started to learn why. His Doctor also seems to be altering his own past, something which has inherent dangers.
The main part of this story gives a good amount of time to each of the four TARDIS crewmembers – the Doctor, Adric, Tegan and Nyssa – setting them against a foe against whom they all have a personal grudge (DWM has given away who it is, but since the back of the CD doesn’t, we’ll maintain some secrecy.) Slotting stories into the quite tight continuity of Season 19 is not easy but Lyons carries out his own sleight of hand to achieve this.
Lyons also delves beneath the surface patina of Houdini’s act to give us a glimpse of the man under the showman and doesn’t always try to present him in the best light. This makes for a more believable portrayal.
Verdict: A story with its own intriguing tricks and turns, Smoke and Mirrors also provides a rare occasion to hear Janet Fielding act as narrator. 8/10