The first part of this two-disc season closer, written and directed by Nick Briggs, brings together some of the many threads that have been running through the Fourth Doctor adventures for some time – not least the avian intruder within the TARDIS. It marks the return of David Warner’s Cuthbert, who’s been a thorn in the Doctor and Romana’s sides for some time.
Briggs takes full advantage of the format to show us Cuthbert in action as he tries to get further acquisitions for the Conglomerate, in scenes that you’d suspect would be the first to get the chop if the story had had to be told in a single disc. This allows Warner to show the many different techniques that he has up his sleeve, and gives the writer a chance for some digs at current politics.
Tom Baker’s Doctor and John Leeson’s K9 are together much of the time, with a neat idea for involving the latter in terrain that wouldn’t normally be K9-friendly, while Lalla Ward’s Romana is off doing her own thing. There’s a regular reunion of Big Finish stalwarts, with the return of Toby Hadoke, David Troughton, Jez Fielder and Jane Slavin alongside more frequent contributors John Dorney and Lisa Bowerman which guarantees a strong set of vocal performances.
The cliffhanger at the end of episode 2 isn’t what you’d expect (unless you choose to look ahead at the castlist for the next story!) and raises the stakes considerably…
Verdict: Inevitably quite a lot of pieces are being put in place for the finale, but this is an enjoyable tale. 8/10