When Nyssa believes the only way she can gain the Doctor’s release from prison is by telling stories, she reveals some hidden travels…
This is one of those CDs that grows on you as it goes along – it’s another of the portmanteau releases, but unlike some recent ones where you get four separate tales for the price of one, this is one long story, with some flashbacks that help to illuminate what’s going on.
The main story (it’s not really fair to describe it purely as linking, since it increasingly dominates the production) sees Sarah Sutton’s Nyssa dealing with Alexander Siddig as an overbearing Sultan who never seems to be satisfied (for reasons that do become clear). Meanwhile, Peter Davison is in a two-hander with veteran actor Nadim Sawalha. Both pairings work well, and there are some nicely understated moments.
The flashbacks are of slightly more variable quality: there are a few clumsy moments (it needs to be established where Nyssa came from, but there’s some horrendous “as you know” dialogue when Nyssa is reminded of her own origins!), and the accents in the “stories about stories” sequence veer a little too close to cliché.
The final episode also feels a little rushed: there was probably enough story material here for this to be expanded (quite a bit of telling rather than showing during the Siddig/Sutton scenes). Maybe one of the flashbacks could have been sacrificed – or indeed used as the basis of a full-length tale
Verdict: There are a lot of good ideas vying for space in this story but the balance doesn’t quite work. 6/10