Part 4: Telos

Writer/director: Nicholas Briggs
Big Finish Productions
RRP: 10.99
ISBN 1 84435 120 3
Available 26 February 2006

The Earth's government is under Cyber-control. The only hope for the future of civilisation as we know it is if androids and humans can work together. But the Cybermen intend to activate their master hibernation vault on the planet Telos, releasing billions of Cyber-troops...

Blimey, you wouldn't believe the confusion that this CD has caused within the offices of Sci-Fi-Online Towers. Picture the scene as I tried to explain to my editor, Darren Rea, that this review was nearly ready to go live...

Rich: Daz, my review of that Telos CD is nearly finished.

Daz: Telos CD? What Telos CD? Telos don't do CDs, they do books...

Rich: No, it's not from Telos, it's from Big Finish.

Daz: Make your mind up! I can see how you might get those two companies mixed up, seeing as how they both publish books featuring characters spun off from Doctor Who novels - namely Time Hunter and Professor Bernice Summerfield respectively - but really, do try and get your facts straight.

Rich: No, I don't mean Telos the publisher, I mean Telos, the last of four discs in the Cyberman mini-series from Big Finish.

Daz: Oh, I see. As in the planet Telos, the adopted home world of the Cybermen.

Rich: Exactly.

Daz: Well, that's a minute and a half of my life I'll never get back.

In fact, Telos never actually appears in this audio drama. As the episode opens, our heroes discover that the planet has been blasted into fragments in a cosmic collision, a revelation that effectively places this series after The Tomb of the Cybermen and Attack of the Cybermen in Cyber-history. The Cybermen don't seem to have much luck with their home planets, do they? Their original habitat, Mondas, also blew up (in The Tenth Planet). I wonder whether the Cryons (the indigenous inhabitants of Telos, seen in Attack) managed to escape.

However, Cyber-technology is nothing if not durable, and the master hibernation vault remains intact in one of the fragments of Telos. It's a race against time as the androids and Liam Barnaby (Mark McDonnell) struggle to locate the vault before the Cybermen can activate it and consequently hundreds of similar vaults throughout the galaxy.

Though dramatic, I didn't find this instalment quite as exciting as the last one, owing to both its small cast complement and its shorter than usual running time (55 minutes, preceded and followed by numerous trailers). The development of Sarah Mowat's character Karen Brett - enslaved to the controlling mind of invading machine-creatures, but with her human spirit struggling to resist - is very similar to what happened to her character Susan Mendes in the Dalek Empire series.

Whether this really is the end of the story or whether, a la Dalek Empire, another series is in the pipeline, remains to be seen. Certainly Paul Hunt (Barnaby Edwards) and the CyberPlanner (Nicholas Briggs) are not defeated outright, but are rather left waiting, like Rimmer at the end of the Red Dwarf episode Timeslides, for something to happen any moment now...

Nevertheless, this has been an enjoyable series, and I would not be disappointed if I were to hear that Nicholas Briggs wanted to Telos - er, I mean, tell us - more.

Richard McGinlay

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