Middle stories in a trilogy series always have a tendency to be either hit or miss. That statement could be made about the other two stories in the series but to me it more relevant to the middle story. After the enjoyable opening story, it was going to be difficult to try and match The Waters of Amsterdam and to a certain extent, this story manages to match that story. Writers Paul Morris and Simon Barnard have written several stories over the years mainly in the Jago and Litefoot series. This story sees the Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan (still weird not having Turlough around) arrive on the Aquitaine which is run by Hargreaves and no one else. Hargreaves cooks the food and lays the table and puts things away. As the story progresses there is the usual splitting the TARDIS crew up but its done in a rather entertaining way.
The central performances are rather good and Barnard and Morris have done something which I didn’t think was possible and that is make them seem like a family and Tegan is mellowed in this story which bearing in mind who were talking about here is quite an achievement. I thought that Janet Fielding has been on fine form and I also thought that Sarah Sutton her usual dependable self and both were given a decent amount of the story. The most interesting character in this story is Hargreaves who appears in several guises but from the moment that appears in the story, he seems to be very similar to Kryten from Red Dwarf but that’s not a critiscm of the writers because any helpful and non-homicidal robot is going to have comparisons to the loveable Kryten. Matthew Cottle plays Hargreaves really well. Cottle has recently appeared in The Avengers and the first series of Doom Coalition but this is his first foray into the Main Range and I thought he added a lot to the story.
It’s not often that I comment on dialogue but there was one line that made me chuckle and it was when the Doctor asks “Which of these lines is Tegan?” and Hargreaves responds by saying “The Spiky One” and the jokes quips by saying “That would be right”.
Aquitaine has some good moments but I think that it starts to go off the boil (a bit) in the second half of the story. This story still manages to continue the good work that the main range has done since the end of 2015 and the final story of the promises to carry on the good work that this story and the Amsterdam story started. There has been a good run of main range stories recently which stretches back to Criss-Cross last September. Hopefully the good form continues and I think that the next story will be a fine end to the series but obviously time will tell.