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Audio Drama Review
The Doctor reveals to Leela that they’re heading for the planet Telos. And K9 has new masters… On Telos, in the past, the Second Doctor and Jamie are exploring the ‘tomb of the Cybermen’. Meanwhile, the Cyber-Controller and Cyber-Planner consolidate their plans. Spare parts from Krelos are being used to construct a mighty Cyber army. The Doctor must be captured. Out of control, the TARDIS tumbles down a chasm and the Doctor and Leela find themselves caught up in a full-scale planetary invasion. Only by changing history can the Time Lord hope to save the day – but that is forbidden…
Picking up the story where The Fate of Krelos left off, the pace of this season finale could scarcely be more different. Whereas Krelos was a decidedly contemplative affair, the calm before the storm, Return to Telos is a real roller-coaster of a ride through space and time.
Remember those scenes in Back to the Future – Part II, in which Marty McFly and Doc Brown return to the 1955 setting of the previous film, and must at all costs avoid bumping into their earlier selves? Return to Telos is rather like that, except that the adventure which the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) finds himself skirting around the sidelines of is the Second Doctor classic The Tomb of the Cybermen. Frazer Hines recreates the role of Jamie McCrimmon and also does his uncanny impersonation of Patrick Troughton’s Doctor, and as an extra treat we also have Bernard Holley sounding incredibly young as Peter Haydon.
For a time, it seems as though writer / director Nicholas Briggs has done with the planet Krelos, which was left in a pretty hopeless state at the end of the previous release. Was all that set-up simply for the purpose of building up the Cyber-menace? Not entirely, as it turns out, as the TARDIS makes a return trip not long after arriving on Telos. After a while on Krelos, the listener may begin to wonder if all the hype about Jamie’s return had been misleading publicity, since he has only appeared in a single inconsequential scene by this point… and then the TARDIS is sent hurtling back to Telos again, like a ball in a game of temporal tennis.
The harshest criticism I can level at this tale is that the Cybermen have made rather too much use of time travel lately, especially when you consider what a rarity that tactic had been during the television series. Even in Attack of the Cybermen, to which this storyline bears a number of similarities, the creatures had not mastered the secrets of time travel but rather purloined some time technology that they didn’t fully understand.
Frazer Hines and Louise Jameson also raise a valid point during the interviews at the end of the disc, that an opportunity has been missed for Jamie and Leela to meet face to face – though to be fair this is not something that occurred to me while I was listening to the story. Would the Doctor’s two knife-wielding warrior companions get along, or would they clash as rivals, competing with each other for the chance to save the Doctor? We don’t find out on this occasion, but it’s an idea worth considering for the future…
After all the excitement, perhaps the most enjoyable scene in Return to Telos is – unexpectedly – the final one, a return to Krelos and the leisurely pace of that previous instalment. The delightful little discussion that takes place between the Doctor and Leela is a lovely way to end this season of their adventures.
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