It’s destination Telos for the TARDIS crew, but the Doctor and Leela are by themselves as K9 has upgraded to new masters!
What surprises are in store in the icy Tombs of the Cybermen? Can the Doctor escape from a Cyber-Controller and Planner who can strike across space and time? This isn’t a pathetic bunch of tin soldiers skulking about the galaxy in an ancient spaceship, this is the Cybermen at their most devious. Can the fate of Krelos be reversed or are it’s people doomed to be the first recruits of a powerful Cyber army?
When danger calls the Doctor needs a powerful warrior companion to help save the day but perhaps this time it’s not Leela who will fill the brief…
Oh that Nick Briggs! I’m new to the 4th Doctor range, but the cliffhanger he left us with at the end of part one of this multi-episode tale really pulled the rug from under my feet. And what a cliff hanger! Telos, Cybermen, a possessed K9 kidnapping the Doctor and Leela… who could better that?
Mr Briggs himself, apparently. While that was one joojooflop of a surprise, it was blown out of the water by Return to Telos, with one of the best shock twists I’ve ever heard in a Big Finish Adventure (and that’s something, coming from a long term fan who’s listened to hundreds of stories). To some it may be controversial – and I won’t mention it yet, cos it’s one heck of a spoiler – but for me it was well handled as part of a complex tale, serving the narrative and elevating the tale without ever once being a gratuitous stunt.
To be honest, it’s hard to talk about the tale without giving any of the great twists away. Suffice it to say, it builds well on the fine work from the first part: where that was a gentle build up of low pressure coming in from the west, this is the tropical storm unexpectedly inundating Bristol that it presaged. There is plenty of action and a complex plot that makes full use of the TARDIS being able to travel in both time and space.
Once again, for large parts of the story John Leeson’s K9 is separated from the rest of the crew – but nonetheless he gets to have a lot of fun as the evil, cyber controlled K9. Tom is as ever in fine form as the Doctor – the energy and presence he brings to the role is immense – and Louise Jameson’s Leela oozes with the same dangerous/sweet combination that she did in the 70s. Add to this a brief, but very satisfying, appearance by Frazer Hines as both Jamie and – well, let’s say it, we’ve spoiled enough already – one other character… it’s a corker of a returning cast.
Patently, I can’t say much about Hines’s second character without spoiling – so, if you don’t want to be spoiled, jump to the next paragraph NOW. Okay… have they gone? Right: Hines plays both Jamie and the Second Doctor, and this is (I think) Big Finish’s first attempt at taking the latter into a full dramatisation (as opposed to the Companion Chronicles way of doing things). And for all that many fans have decried the idea for years… it works. It really works. Of course, that’s largely due to Hines’s superb interpretation… but whatever the reason, boy it’s good to have him back. More please, and soon.
The guest actors are no slouches either – I’d grown quite fond of the inhabitants of Krelos by the end – and as is customary the sound work and music is epic. Cybervoices, especially of Tomb era Cybermen, can often be a bit hard to make out, but here they are clear and there is a range that helps them sound more like converted humans than robots (which you can feel when the voices are too similar). Using the music from the Troughton era works really well when in Telos, it helps set the scene immediately.
It’s not often I have a review where there isn’t anything I can fault, so Return to Telos has proved to be a real treat. It’s a great story with some lovely features and the usual brilliant acting that I’m finding is a staple of the Fourth Doctor range. While I expected to enjoy this series. I had no idea quite how much I would – it’s doing a great job of taking me back to my childhood!