Part of the fun of listening to this mini-series has become guessing what stories are going to be mined for ideas next. We’ve had the first and third Quatermass stories in the opener, and now Quatermass II – with its strangely-acting people at Winnerden Flats and giant pressure domes containing alien substances – is the root for this tale. Although some of the set-up is similar, what we get is very different, as ICMG goes undercover.
It’s also fun to work out how these tales might fit into the wider Who universe: is Temple working on similar lines to The Underwater Menace’s Professor Zaroff, with his attempts to create Fish People who can breathe underwater?
Which then begs the question, is Sir Toby so angry at the end of the story because something like this was going on – or because it was going on behind his back? The ending of Artificial Intelligence certainly makes it clear that the knight of the realm is far more ruthless than his “Father, forgive me…” line in this story might indicate.
One aspect that I think could profitably be brought into future stories is more of the pop culture of the time: this is, after all, when Bond fever was nearing its height. Allison’s theory regarding Ken Temple is pretty much the background given in Ian Fleming’s novel Moonraker for Sir Hugo Drax and perhaps even a sly nod to the effect that “this isn’t a James Bond novel, Miss Williams,” from Gilmore might have just softened that.
Apart from one continuity error (which shift is McGuinness on? Orange as at the beginning, or green, as stated midway through – or is there a significance to this that has escaped me?) writer Ian Potter and director Ken Bentley have provided another cracking tale, with good performances from the guest cast as well as the regulars.
Verdict: A good ensemble piece playing to all four characters’ strengths. 8/10