Doc­tor Who

Time- warped TARDIS teams tri­umphant?

SFX - - Videogames / Miscellaneous -

in Last Of The Cy­ber­men, the Sixth Doc­tor ( Colin Baker) is paired with Troughton- era com­pan­ions Jamie ( Frazer Hines) and Zoe ( Wendy Padbury). They end up on a bleak plan­e­toid, where a strange out­post is some­how con­nected to the end of the Cy­ber Wars, and the re­sult­ing ad­ven­ture does its best to con­trast the dif­fer­ent styles of the Sec­ond and Sixth Doc­tors. The script main­tains a fun, imag­i­na­tive tone and re­mains con­sis­tently en­joy­able, although the con­vo­luted fi­nal episode does over­play the time- travel shenani­gans.

Stronger and more fo­cused, The Se­cret History brings the tril­ogy to an ef­fec­tive close, as a tem­po­ral glitch unites the Fifth Doc­tor ( Peter Dav­i­son) with Hart­nell- era com­pan­ions Steven ( Peter Purves) and Vicki ( Mau­reen O’Brien). The TARDIS lands them in the lat­ter days of the Ro­man Em­pire, and what starts as a rip­ping his­tor­i­cal saga turns stranger as it be­comes clear some­one is de­lib­er­ately ma­nip­u­lat­ing the Doc­tor’s life. The ul­ti­mate re­veal of the mys­tery is ef­fec­tive, while the story main­tains a cre­ative blend of his­tor­i­cal de­tail and sci- fi in­trigue. Strong act­ing and a witty script make this a sat­is­fy­ing con­clu­sion, as well as a great show­case for the joy­ful odd­i­ties of clas­sic Who sto­ry­telling.

Else­where, the latest sea­son of Fourth Doc­tor au­dios con­tin­ues with a pair of ad­ven­tures that show off the dif­fer­ent flavours of the Tom Baker era. In Sub­ur­ban Hell, the tone is de­lib­er­ately comic, as the Doc­tor and Leela gate­crash a seem­ingly or­di­nary ’ 70s sub­ur­ban din­ner party, then en­counter tem­po­ral anom­alies along­side a ter­ri­fy­ing alien force. A de­lib­er­ate homage to clas­sic ’ 70s com­e­dy­drama Abi­gail’s Party, it’s an en­ter­tain­ing and lurid tale that veers from hi­lar­i­ous melo­drama to pulpy SF thrills, and which gives Baker plenty of chances to shine.

In con­trast, The Cloisters Of Terror goes firmly into gothic hor­ror mode, as the Doc­tor and Leela in­ves­ti­gate strange ac­tiv­i­ties at an Ox­ford col­lege where a trio of ghostly nuns are wreak­ing havoc. There are en­ter­tain­ingly spooky set­pieces and sharply crafted di­a­logue, although the mix of supernatural hor­ror and sci- fi ul­ti­mately goes in a fairly pre­dictable di­rec­tion. Nev­er­the­less, it’s still a lively retro SF chiller that’s once again an­chored by ex­cel­lent per­for­mances from both Tom Baker and Louise Jame­son. Saxon Bul­lock Also out: a First Doc­tor Com­pan­ion Chron­i­cles box set, and ( 16 July) a read­ing of the nov­el­i­sa­tion of “The Ark In Space”. The pub­lish­ers are look­ing for peo­ple to playtest a new game, Xenoshyft: Dread­mire. See http:// bit. ly/ xenotest.

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