More BF plays, fairly heavy on the Fifth Doctor this time. Most of them pretty good, actually.
The Mind’s Eye is a rather good drama about Peri and Erimem becoming literally entagled in mindwarping plants, whie the Doctor tries to sort out the politics of the mission investigating the planet. Owen Teale and Rebecca Front are great guest stars, and Thomas Sangster appears as Peri’s stepson – both Morris and Bryant get a good chance to show their talents in a different context.
Mission of the Viyrans is out of sequence, in that it’s a single-episode piece on the same CD set as The Mind’s Eye but set after Erimem’s departure. Again we have Peri’s reality being bent, this time by a virus and by the time-travellers fighting it, and some exceptionally good material for Nicola Bryant, but the punchline somewhat weakens the story.
Alan Barnes is always a writer who makes me sit up, so I was looking forward to The Girl Who Never Was. However I was a little disappointed. The elements are great – Anna Massey claiming to be an elderly Charley, Cybermen on an abandoned ship near Singapore, timewarping and decay – but it doesn’t quite gel as well as Barnes at his best.
By contrast, I loved The Bride of Peladon: OK, a substantial amount of it is a retread of The Curse of Peladon, but that is probably my favourite Third Doctor story so it’s not a bad start; and then we have the Osirans as in Pyramids of Mars, as well as Ice Warriors, Alpha Centauri, Aggedor, Arcturans and all. Erimem’s departure is as you would expect (though we have some good misdirection) and Peri promises that she will not leave the Doctor to marry an alien king. I laughed so loud at that line that passers-by were very startled. But you also have Phyllida Law as the royal grandmother, and Jenny Agutter as the baddie, and it’s generally excellent.
Charley Pollard returns to the Tardis in The Condemned, but with the Sixth Doctor rather than the Eighth. They end up in contemporary Manchester, tangling with Anna Hope’s D.I. Patricia Menzies who discovers that her beat appears to be a combination of Torchwood and Men in Black. She is great, and the plot had some good chilly horror moments, but I felt the story was just a little contrived and depending on coincidences.
Yet another good Fifth Doctor play – it’s been a good week or so for my appreciation of Peter Davison. He lands the Tardis in the middle of a greenhouse and gets mixed up with David Troughton being an alien baddie attempting to conquer the world through cuddly toys. Some very nice moments with Timothy West as the deluded toy manufacturer and Roberta Taylor as the companion-who-isn’t.
The Dark Husband was written by David Quantick who apparently is a famous comedy writer. On the basis of this, he should probably stick to that genre; The Dark Husband is pointless rather than funny. OK, the plot just about makes sense, and poor Danny Webb survives playing all three of the main guest characters, and there is just a hint of romantic spark between Ace and Hex, but it’s just not very exciting.
So, all the Fifth Doctor stories in the above list are good (with the exception of Mission of the Viyrans – another single episode one with Five and Peri which is let down by the ending). The rest are OK but not as good as they could have been.