The final story of this series sees the return of a familiar foe. Magnus Greel returns to Doctor Who after he appeared in the 1977 adventure ‘The Talons of Weng-Chiang’. However this is a prequel for the character and what this story does is to fill in the blanks and tell us how he came to be how we see him in Weng-Chiang. The return of Magnus Greel is given to Marc Platt who is a Toms Tardis Award winning author (Silver Turk – 2011). At the beginning of this story, the TARDIS is on its way to Australia so that Tegan can indulge herself in a bit of sheep shearing but ends up in Brisbane in the 51stCentury. It’s not long before the inevitable happens and that is the regulars get split up and this time its Nyssa’s turn to team up with Turlough and the Doctor is left with Tegan. This was a good idea because it meant that Turlough could be Nyssa’s assistant as she cozied up to Magnus Greel. The first part is the best episode for me as it sets the story up brilliantly, we find that Nyssa and Turlough come across someone who not only knows them but has come from three years in the future. When we are introduced to Magnus Greel he is the Justice Minister for the Supreme Alliance, it’s quite a good way of introducing the character because he is someone who doesn’t arrive in an invasion fleet but as someone who is well established in the time and place he is in.
Two of the three cliffhangers are very good. In particular the first when Tegan (along with the rest of us) discover what has happened to Nyssa who is to become the wife of Magnus Greel. This wonderfully complicates the situation and helps add another plot strand to the story. As this story is set in Magnus’ future it was a nice reminder of the Doctor’s timeline with River Song. When he first meets River it’s her final story and in the Talons of Weng-Chiang its Magnus’ final story. I’m making it more complicated but essentially the point I’m making is that is nice to think that after this story we know what will happen to Magnus when the character himself doesn’t know. The Doctor does well in not letting Magnus know who he is as this would totally screw up the continuity of this particular storyline. Platt does a good job of keeping an eye on what the Doctor says and does (and also makes sure that no one else calls him the Doctor in front of Magnus. As Nyssa has been in a relationship with Magnus it’s interesting when she tries to defend him to Tegan. However instead of saying that he is 100% nice and just misunderstood which would have been silly, she says that despite being a monster he did show her kindness which is about as close as Nyssa could seriously get to saying something nice about him.
The central performances were all very good. Janet Fielding admits in the extras that two of the stories she didn’t fully understand (I suspect the other story was The Jupiter Conjunction), I thought that Sarah Sutton was yet again given a nice story and worked well with Angus Wright (Magnus). I thought that Wright did a good job of playing Magnus Greel. The Magnus we encounter in this story isn’t the same as in Weng-Chiang so Wright isn’t compelled to try and mimic Michael Spice (Greel in Weng-Chiang) and so gives a solid performance which gives glimpses of what Greel is to become. Peter Davison’s performance was what we usually get from him and it was a solid performance.
I must admit that I felt this was a slight (ever so) disappointment for me. Compared to his previous story, I think that he starts off well but fails to deliver the killer punch which is what I like about The Silver Turk. It’s not a terrible story because there is a great deal to like about this story but I think that it’s not a Platt classic. Out of the three stories of this series I would say that The Emerald Tiger is the standout story but for the third year running, there wasn’t a terrible story in the series. I do wonder for how long they can keep this trend up. It might be worth giving the trio a rest for the next series thus meaning the next time they come back will be something to look forward to.