Summoned to Earth by Mike Yates, the Sixth Doctor finds himself reunited with a couple of other old friends in the battle against Mr Rees…
One of Big Finish’s earliest spin-offs gets an outing here – or at least the pairing at the heart of it does. The Gallifrey series was built around the characters of the second Romana and Leela and their relationship, and the knowledge they have of each other, is fundamental to Nick Wallace and Justin Richards’ story. Like the audience, Romana knows that there are certain things that Leela simply does not do (you could say they were contractual matters in a sense).
As with the AudioGo stories, it does feel occasionally as if Mike Yates is simply a stand in for the Brigadier at times – something which definitely wasn’t the case with the preceding story – but I’d rather have someone that we know, rather than there being a Seeds of Doom-esque introduction of a UNIT character that the Doctor knows but we don’t (although wouldn’t it have been great if David Tennant’s Colonel Brimmicombe-Wood had somehow been rehabilitated and made a reappearance!). The combination of the Sixth Doctor and Romana hasn’t been heard for a long time (can it really be as far back as The Apocalypse Element?), and there’s just a hint at the end that it’s a team which could reappear. As seems to be increasingly the case, Louise Jameson is given something different to do with Leela and the early scenes between her and Jamie Glover work well.
Glover’s Rees has made an interesting opponent, and I won’t be in the least bit surprised if we hear the strains of “Ding Dong Bell, Pussy’s In the Well” again in the not too distant future (although I’m sure Howard Carter will be glad not to have to work out further arrangements of it!). And if Mr Rees were to team up with the Master, then it could be very interesting indeed.
Looking briefly at the box set as a whole, the extremely lavish collectors’ edition arrived in the post this morning (no, Big Finish haven’t gone insane; it wasn’t a comp copy!), and it’s rather fine. Similar in size to the Collectors Edition of The Light at the End from last year, it has some enjoyable essays inside, as well as portraits of the cast, and some rather fine illustrations for each of the stories.
Verdict: The scope of the story widens considerably leading to a suitably epic ending. 8/10