Doc­tor Who

Icy beasts, glassy demons and diminu­tive Doc­tors…

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Videogames / Miscellaneous -

Big Fin­ish’s tril­o­gy­based

Doc­tor Who re­lease sched­ule some­times ap­pears to be as loose as “Here’s an­other three un­con­nected sto­ries star­ring a clas­sic Who line- up”, but their lat­est triple help­ing of ad­ven­tures is a far more in­ter­linked af­fair.

A fol­low- up to a tril­ogy that ap­peared on TV back in 1980, the cur­rent saga con­tin­ues with Equi­lib­rium, which picks up as the Fifth Doc­tor, Te­gan, Nyssa and Tur­lough are hunt­ing down a stolen TARDIS com­po­nent they need to es­cape from the pocket uni­verse of E- Space. The search leads to the win­try feu­dal king­dom of Isen­fel, where they re­ceive a sur­pris­ingly friendly wel­come – un­til they re­alise what kind of del­i­cate bal­ance has to be main­tained in or­der for Isen­fel to sur­vive…

The re­sult­ing story pulls off smart plot twists and also pushes the Fifth Doc­tor into a dif­fi­cult and chal­leng­ing moral po­si­tion. While it’s oc­ca­sion­ally a lit­tle too tra­di­tional and over- familiar, Equi­lib­rium re­mains a sat­is­fy­ing adventure that con­tin­ues this cur­rent tril­ogy’s high stan­dard.

The lat­est sea­son of Tom Baker- star­ring ad­ven­tures con­tin­ues with The Dark­ness Of Glass, which goes out of its way to chan­nel the gothic style of ’ 70s pro­ducer Phillip Hinch­cliffe. When the Doc­tor and Leela ar­rive on the English coast in 1907, they’re soon stranded on a windswept is­land where a so­ci­ety of Magic Lanternists have gath­ered to cel­e­brate a mo­men­tous an­niver­sary. It isn’t long be­fore a sin­is­ter force is pick­ing them off one by one…

While there’s plenty of at­mos­phere and some nicely played se­quences, the story starts fall­ing apart in its sec­ond half. Hinch­clif­feera gothic works best when played along­side imag­i­na­tive sci- fi, whereas The Dark­ness Of Glass barely both­ers with a sci­en­tific ex­pla­na­tion, set­tling for a gar­bled cli­max that de­gen­er­ates into un­con­vinc­ing daft­ness.

Things don’t im­prove over in the new Short Trips range of down­load­only au­dio sto­ries. Lit­tle Doc­tors sees the Sec­ond Doc­tor, Jamie and Zoe ar­riv­ing at a soul­less Earth colony run by a su­per­com­puter, where they end up accidentally caus­ing havoc. There are po­ten­tially in­ter­est­ing themes here and the nar­ra­tion from Frazer Hines is good, but the broad, child- like tone of the Troughton era gets amped up to cloy­ing lev­els, and the story tries to cram too much in, end­ing up feel­ing like an abridged ver­sion of a longer tale. It’s a frus­trat­ing mis­fire, but last month’s Fly­wheel Revo­lu­tion showed the po­ten­tial of the Short Trips range, and hope­fully fu­ture re­leases will get a han­dle on the for­mat. Saxon Bul­lock

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