Terminus (1984)

Terminus is a sad story for me as it marks the departure of Nyssa after just over two years in the role. Considering she was only intended to appear in ‘The Keeper of Traken’ I think that the character has done very well. True, Nyssa has been badly treated in several stories where she is dumped in the TARDIS for large chunks of a story and in the case of ‘Kinda’ she appears for about 90 seconds in a 100 minute story. So the story was written by Stephen Gallagher in his second contribution (Warriors Gate in 1981). This story suffers from being the middle story of the Black Guardian trilogy and so is a bit of a holding pattern until Enlightenment comes along.

Terminus is boring. I hate to admit that after the first episode I just lost interest because it so grim and far grimmer than you would expect from Doctor Who. This is a story that could and would have benefited from location filming. The idea of the story being set on a leaper ship is actually quite a good one but then the minute we meet the servents/slaves of the ship it starts to just become dull. The thing about Gallagher’s writing is that its quite like his ‘Warriors Gate’ effort where there seems to be a good idea in there but is fighting to get out. The opening episode sees the TARDIS mix with the lazar ship and the wandering round an eerily deserted ship is quite a good foundation but then Gallagher proceeds to write characters that aren’t allowed to bring anything to the story.

The only thing that can get you through the story is Mark Strickson. Turlough is still on a mission to try and kill the Doctor but his performance is simply brilliant. His verbal fights with Tegan at the beginning was brilliant to watch and then the fact that they have to spend a lot of the story together just makes their relationship even better. Fielding really has progressed as Tegan from the mouthy air hostess who would spend all of her scenes shrieking at the Doctor. Since ‘returning’ in Arc of Infinity, we have been witness to a very toned down Tegan who only sufferes from a poor costume. Peter Davison is on his usual good form but doesn’t really shine like he usually does and that may be something to do with the material but he does seem at times to just be going through the motions.

Sarah Sutton is given a lovely farewell scene which is far more credible that the one Adric was given. However before we get to this farewell scene we have to put up with Nyssa yet again being poorly treated. Quite why Sutton has to lose some of her clothing is still beyond my understanding and I hate to think of myself a prude but I thought that her costume was inappropriate. I wasn’t a fan of her ‘Snakedance’ costume but at least that was more appropriate that the thing she was forced to wear. That said I think that Nyssa was one of the best companions of the 1980’s and I think that is down to Sutton’s performances. When she wasn’t badly treated for being the smart companion she was able to bring a lot to the story and if you want to know what I mean listen to any of the Big Finish stories with just Nyssa in it.

Terminus isn’t quite the story that it should have been. I don’t think that had the Black Guardian stuff been taken out it would have been any better and to that end I don’t know if I will ever like this story and think I would go so far as to say that its one of the worst stories of the classic era.

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