There does seem to have been quite a lot of sequel-itis in the Big Finish main range in recent times. Some of these have worked very well – Masters of Earth, for instance, weaving a story around The Dalek Invasion of Earth in a Back to the Future II way – while others (Revenge of the Swarm) have, to my mind, not established themselves as sufficiently independent stories. Mistfall, luckily, is in the former category – no doubt helped by the fact that the writer of the original TV story penned this.
Andrew Smith hasn’t simply reworked Full Circle, but has expanded on some of the concepts and themes within that story. The use of evolution in the original 1980 TV show has attracted some debate, particularly in the pages of About Time, and Smith adds elements to the background of both stories to explain some of the anomalies. (Those who have read Tat Wood’s book will see that some reworking of the entry about Marshmen telepathy will be required as a result of this story.) You don’t need to know all the details of the 35-year-old story to understand this – although the serendipity of Matthew Waterhouse’s reading of the novelisation coming out at the same time is handy – and the difference in time in the setting allows for enough to have changed. All of the regulars are given plenty to do, even if to an extent Turlough does appear to have defaulted to his “let’s not get involved” setting. There’s also plenty of story development given to the guest cast, including Jemma Redgrave.
My only real criticism of the story, which gallops along at a fair old pace, is in some of the sound design, where the dialogue is occasionally difficult to hear, and the music stings take too much precedence. This particularly applies in the first couple of episodes, but it should be noted that Nigel Fairs’ homage to Paddy Kingsland’s original music score is great fun.
Big Finish has a difficult balancing act to maintain between completely new stories, and “kisses to the past”. This is an enjoyable addition to the latter group, although I hope that the rest of the trilogy doesn’t reference State of Decay and Warrior’s Gate!
Verdict: A nicely constructed sequel to the story that brought me back to Doctor Who after a year’s gap back in 1980! 8/10