John Dorney’s return to his creations the Rocket Men, first seen in a couple of First Doctor Companion Chronicles, picks up on various elements of their hierarchy and methods of operating for this enjoyable story which will make you feel as if you’ve jumped a couple of tracks initially, and then throws some real curveballs as it progresses. Applying the “When do you know” theme from the previous stories to Leela, Dorney shows us how much Leela has been affected by her time with the Doctor – not just in terms of the things she has learned, but also how her whole outlook on life has been changed… or at times, not. She’s paired for much of the story with a character who hasn’t had such influences, which provides her with an interesting mirror on herself.
It’s clear that Tom Baker and Geoffrey Beevers enjoy their time working as Doctor and Master – the scenes zip along, particularly when they’re together, and Beevers gives the Master’s putdowns more weight than Anthony Ainley ever managed! Director Nick Briggs ensures, though, that the other characters do get a chance to make their mark – Mark Frost’s Shandar and John Leeson as K9 have important parts to play. There’s quite a few scenes where characters are inside the Rocket Men armour, and Briggs and Jamie Robertson ensure that both the dialogue is audible and there’s a clear sense of place.
Verdict: A strong battle of wits – in all senses. 8/10