The first three parts of this story give both Tom Baker and Mary Tamm some terrific moments – as well as guest star David Warner, whose blunt Northern company boss is desperate to ensure that whatever is going on, he’s at the heart of it and is going to benefit from it in some way. Although this is the first reunion of Baker, Tamm and John Leeson, the latter doesn’t get as much chance to shine – yet (and Leeson gets a lead role in the short CD extras).
The idea of the Laarne is a neat one, and Nick Briggs skilfully manipulates the audience’s sympathies, as each new piece of information changes the way you view the situation (reminding me in passing of Christopher Nolan’s Memento in that respect). The music score is a slightly odd mix of Dudley Simpson-esque pastiche, and something more electronic – which evoked memories of Sword of Orion, although I’m not exactly sure why!
Ending with a cliffhanger as the situation has worsened yet again, Briggs has left himself with a lot of plotlines to resolve in the second story – you can see why the story was given an extra episode.
Verdict: A Who story set in the desert – give me this over Planet of the Dead any time! 8/10