Mara Tales
review by Andy Weston
            “You can’t mend PEOPLE!” yells Hindle at Sanders, yet paradoxically that’s exactly what Kinda is about. The healing and mending of the individual, administered in part by two doctors.
            The story begins with the Doctor tending to Nyssa who, having collapsed after finding out her contract didn’t cover all four of Kinda’s episodes, needs a good spot of D-Sleep – which in itself is a subtle signpost for what befalls Tegan not so far into the future. The Doctor lives up to his title and dutifully prescribes rest, so we don’t see Sarah Sutton until the conclusion. A shame, since she’s undoubtedly the most likeable of the three companions, yet her presence (or rather lack of) isn’t noticed. That’s not to criticise the story or Sarah Sutton (she gets a great role to play in Snakedance), but to try to shoehorn in another companion would have surely been to the detriment of the story.
            Tegan is the next companion to fall, though she does remain for the rest of the story, unlike Nyssa. Falling asleep at the wind-chimes is not only her undoing, but an action that proves to be the catalyst for most (though not all) of the subsequent action. Janet Fielding takes centre stage for a while, giving one of her most well-rounded performances in her entire time on the show. The sense of Tegan’s heightened fear and frustration is very well conveyed, from the scenes where she is trapped in her own mind, confronted by grotesque interpretations of her travelling companions, to her awakening in the forest renewed by the Mara’s power. Yet, after the Mara leaves her for Aris, her part in the story is somewhat diminished – she’s asleep throughout part 3 – and it’s not quite the Tegan-centric tale that it is always remembered as. Certainly, out of the three companions she is given the most interesting and developed role, but it’s the supporting artists that really drive the story along.
            Hindle. A truly terrifying man, simply because he’s unhinged. No one really knows the right thing to say or do around him. He has “the power of life and death over all of you”, threatening to sterilise the surrounding area outside the dome with “acid and fire”. It’s no coincidence that when uttering the line at the top of this review that he tears the head off said person. It’s all about mental instability and problems adjusting, and in any other script it may well be a coincidence, but Kinda’s too clever for sheer chance. The symbolism of his pulling the head off is a clever indication of his own breakdown, and that of those around him.
            In portraying Hindle’s descent into madness, it would have been all too easy for to overplay the role, venturing into caricature. However not only does Simon Rouse steer away from this, but he gives one of the most compelling performances ever seen in Who. Hindle’s fall from sanity is so well realised that it creeps up on the audience, from the efficient military man doing his job – and being sneered at by his superior officer – to the child-like mind that plays with cardboard figures and begs, “Muumy! Leave the lights on!” There are hints of deeper problems than those contained within the story through lines like these, and Hindle may be a man who’s been suffering his whole life. You truly believe that the man is capable of anything, and his threat to the Doctor of “Open it – or  I’ll have you shot,” rings true in a way that the threats of the Doctor’s usual antagonists don’t. This is a dangerous character, one capable of destroying them all, and Simon Rouse gives a breathtaking performance and convinces completely.
            While Rouse is the undoubted star of Kinda, the other supporting players shine just as brightly. Real-life movie star Richard Todd plays his military man bluster splendidly against his child-like regression following his peek into the Box of Jhana. His hard-edge is immediately softened as his mind tries to make sense of the world, his relationship with Hindle, a man he’d dominated before, turning around completely so that he is no longer in command and is instead the subservient party. When the two are talking after they are ‘healed’ at the story’s end, it seems that there is a mutual respect between the pair. Whether due to the events that have taken place or not, it is an encouraging sign that both men simply needed something to ‘fix’ them after everything.
            Doctor Todd is the only member of the base not to need ‘healing’ and is also the most attuned to the planet and its indigenous population. It’s no coincidence that this is true, nor that she is a woman. Nerys Hughes gives an unfussy and thoroughly absorbing performance as Todd. Sharing most screen time with the Doctor, the pair of them are well-matched, having that rare chemistry that often eludes guest artistes and the lead actor. It’s yet another good indicator of what makes this such an exquisite story.
            This story detractors will always find something to dislike (as is their wont), and here it’s always going to be one of three things: the sets, the snake or Matthew Waterhouse. The first two lend the story a heightened theatrically, very much in-keeping with the language intensive story but never are to the detriment of it. They can be overlooked as one is wrapped up in the intensity of the story, watching the drama unfold rather than worrying about fake tree and a rubber snake. If the snake galls that much, it can be watch in CGI glory, but that somewhat detracts from the story more than the original. It is never mentioned that the snake is an actual snake, but rather a manifestation of the mind. If the Mara had chosen to raid the BBC visual effects department of the 1980s, I’m sure it’s what it would have come up with (though perhaps a shade less pink). The third criticism isn’t so easy to ignore or explain away. Matthew Waterhouse is outshone by everyone else here, yet he is undoubtedly the least experienced of his colleagues. He does his best, and thankfully isn’t given too much screen time. His presence is only really felt when he makes an ill-advised attempt to control the TSS, but even then his screen time is limited. Thankfully he doesn’t have an opportunity to derail proceedings, and the action quickly relocates after each occasion he appears thus reducing this further. That said, it’s definitely one of his more tolerable outings, and in Waterhouse’s defence, the character was ill-conceived from the get-go, deviating wildly from the original brief.
            Kinda is one of those stories that it’s a pleasure to sit through time and again, so rich is the production. Multi-layered storytelling, pitch perfect performances, and a script so good that it often makes you wonder if you’re watching the same series that produced Time-Flight in the same season. Christopher Bailey was one of the finest writers Doctor Who ever had, and his hit rate is impressive in the extreme. It’s a crying shame that his Who experiences drove him away from television, as it deprived the wider audience of a truly great talent. Coupled with Peter Grimwade’s constantly impressive direction, this is a story to savour, to sit back and soak up and understand on a new level with each subsequent re-watch.
            If you didn’t enjoy Kinda at first, give it another try. It that fails try again. You will end up appreciating it for the extraordinary story that it is, this side of madness or the other...

            How do you follow up a story like Kinda? It’s not an enviable task for anyone, not least a writer who doesn’t want to be pigeon-holed as a one-hit wonder. So what do you do? Well, you write Snakedance of course, and show the world that you can bottle lightning.
            The Doctor is quite clearly a madman. We all know it, and have done from the start. Yet characters don’t often mention the fact, taking a complete stranger at his word and doing as he asks. Not here. Dashing into director Ambril’s office, the Doctor demands that the ceremony commemorating the Mara’s banishment be stopped, and is somewhat taken aback when the Ambril’s initial reaction is, “Certainly. I’ll cancel the whole thing at once.” It almost immediately clear that he’s humouring the Doctor, viewing him as one of the ‘cranks’ he talks of. It’s an excellent bit of subversion, the Doctor thinking that people are taking him at his word for once, when in reality they view him with even more suspicion than normal. It’s a truly unique take on the view that others have of the Doctor, with people seeing him exactly how he should be viewed by those who don’t know him. He sounds crazy and acts it, and is incredibly persistent about how he goes about trying to convince people he is right without one shred of proof to support his wild claims.
            This is Tegan’s story. Without doubt this is the one that is truly about her from start to finish. From the off, she is being guided the Mara’s influence, setting the coordinates for Manussa and once again being the catalyst for events. As a viewer, it’s hard not to feel sympathy for her. All this time since Deva Loka, and she’s even been back for an extended stay on Earth. It’s no wonder that she’s scared that something she thought long gone has resurfaced! Janet Fielding again plays this superbly and it’s very easy to empathise with her (yes, despite her constant whining, you unbelievers!) as she struggles to control her own mind. We first see her in the same terrified dream-state that she spent half of Kinda in, and this time it’s a nightmarish vision of where she is destined to be.
            Within the story, Tegan is certainly at the centre of some of the story’s most memorable moments, such as the end of part one – a truly terrifying image. She is also given the lion’s share of the story, remaining the focus throughout. That she becomes the threat in the story is a very powerful image, and she controls Lon and Dugdale, using them to her own ends.
            While Fielding is the undoubted star of this particular show, she is surrounding by an extremely talented guest cast. Martin Clunes imbues Lon with just the right amount of pomposity and grandstanding to not make character too exaggerated, and when his fall comes you can’t help thinking that it couldn’t happen to a nicer person. Look past the costume and the (admittedly very 80s) make-up, and you have another strong guest performance.
            Brian Miller (aka Mr Elisabeth Sladen) does well with Dugdale, the poor unfortunate, but after episode two’s cliffhanger (another good one) he’s left to be little more than the puppet of Lon and Tegan. John Carson gives another strong performance as Ambril, a man of determination at first but who succumbs to the human frailty of greed, which proves to be his downfall. Jonathon Morris too gives a fine portrayal of Ambril’s ‘underling’ Chela, a man wise enough to know that while the Doctor may appear like a raving lunatic to most, there must be a certain element of truth in his claims.
            Sarah Sutton is very well served here, and far from the cameo appearance in Kinda she is given a chance to shine and even manages a rescue attempt on the Doctor. The benefits of having just two companions again are obvious, since there’s now enough story to go around without having to sideline one of them.
            Peter Davison is much underrated, and in Snakedance portrays the Doctor in such a way that the audience can sympathise and even feel frustrated for him when no one is listening to his claims, yet also it can be seen easily by his enthusiasm and determination that he is right just why people won’t take him at his word.
            The fact that it times it does seem hopeless and that the Doctor might end up powerless to prevent the rebirth of the Mara is a credit to both Davison and Christopher Bailey’s writing once again. It has been said that Snakedance is the more traditional Who story of the two he wrote, but it’s hard to see exactly how it’s similar to the stories either side of it. Arc of Infinity is an object lesson in how not to make Doctor Who, while Mawdryn Undead is packed full of continuity too, but manages to be far more entertaining than it might have been in less capable hands. Snakedance is like neither of these, and once again subverts the expectation of the viewer.
            It is a crying shame that Christopher Bailey never wrote for the show again, as the two stories he did write are examples of the programme at its finest. For me, Kinda edges it, but they are both truly great examples of just what Doctor Who is capable of when it puts on its finery.
            Two of the best, and in one set, it’s a must buy.

            Both discs contain a making of, though the more thorough of the two is ’Dream Time’ on Kinda. Covering Kinda from commission right up until transmission, it’s an extremely entertaining documentary, and gives some light onto the animosity that Christopher Bailey (quite rightly) feels towards Eric Saward. Saward does seem rather superior and all knowing, ready to criticise Bailey’s scripts without hesitation. Yet this was the man who wrote Attack of the Cybermen, and when did that last feature in any fan’s top ten? It’s great to have Simon Rouse and Nerys Hughes onboard too, both keen to talk about their time on the show. This is where the Snakedance documentary disappoints slightly, since neither Martin Clunes nor Jonathon Morris are present to talk of their work. Here’s hoping it was due to busyness rather than unwillingness, as it would have been interesting to hear their thoughts.
            Both discs also contain several deleted scenes, which flesh out the stories a little more. One particularly noteworthy example is an extra scene trimmed from the end of Snakedance. It’s an interesting curio, but best left to the cutting-room floor, since it would undoubtedly have lessened the impact of the story’s strong finale.
            Kinda  features ‘Peter Grimwade – Directing with Attitude’, which shows just what a raw deal the man got from John Nathan Turner, being on the receiving end of much pettiness which ultimately curtailed his time on the show. A sad epitaph for a director with real vision for Who.
            Snakedance features an extended sequence from Saturday Superstore featuring Peter Davison, which is a nice nostalgia piece if nothing more. This disc also contains the best extra of the set, but which can only be found by a complex manoeuvre of one’s DVD remote. A shame, as Christopher Bailey in conversation with Rob Shearman is an absolute gem of a piece, two writers shooting the breeze and Shearman expressing his admiration for Bailey’s work, revealing that it was his work that made Shearman want to become a writer. It’s heartening that Bailey says that he’ll leave the interview happier than when going in, and that the knowledge that Shearman, Paul Cornell and Steven Moffat all have nothing but praise for him will no doubt leave him with a spring in his step.
            A good selection of extras, which could have been better, but which do not dent the overall magnificence of these stories.
            Should you buy this set? Absolutely. In fact I’d recommend it one hundred percent. One thousand percent. One billion trillion trillion percent.

Overall rating: 10/10

Industrial Evolution written by Eddie Robson and directed by Nicholas Briggs

What’s it about: 19th century Lancashire: where the white heat of the Industrial Revolution burns hottest at Samuel Belfrage's brass mill, a mill plagued by more than its fair share of work-related injuries. While Thomas Brewster struggles to secure a fair deal for Belfrage's overworked hands, fellow travellers the Doctor and Evelyn follow the Copper King to Liverpool, there to discover the unexpected truth about Belfrage's business. Back in Ackleton, the local MP voices the fears of many when he says that the machines are taking over. He's more right than he knows…

Softer Six: As ever Colin Baker gives a peerless performance and as he mentions in the interviews on the extras he clearly loves working with Maggie Stables and it beans from every scene they have together. Go and listen to their antics in episode two as they chase after Belfrage for a great example of this unbeatable team in action. The Doctor is a fine medical man, leaping into action when a worker loses three fingers. A nosy parker and a pickpocket! What a cheat – the Doctor pilots the TARDIS to Liverpool station to catch up with Belfrage! As ever the Doctor and Evelyn make a fine, back biting married couple bickering over running, attempts to look inconspicuous and breaking into a building. I honestly think these two could be entertaining doing anything. He feels like an intergalactic caretaker sometimes. Is this the first time the Doctor has confronted somebody so brazenly and been thumped in the face? Belfrage thinks that the Doctor and Evelyn are coppers! Tries to convince Evelyn that they need an authority figure to lead them at the factory but she can see right through him and he is simply trying to get her out of harms way. He claims he talks to his enemies because he doesn’t like fighting but Brewster thinks he does it just because he likes the sound of his own voice! The Doctor is shocked at Brewster’s appalling tactics, destroying the creature by potentially derailing the steam train – he finds his ends and his means abominable. The Doctor would never have used Thomas as an agent because he doesn’t get other people to do his dirty work. The Doctor bops Stretton on the nose he goes clang! The only person who understands what the Doctor is going on about is the Doctor! He’s furious that Brewster destroyed the inhibitor, a sentient creature and thinks he has had his last chance.

Learned Lecturer: By all accounts Maggie Stables has had a terrible year having cracked her ribs and yet battles into the studio to play Evelyn and I’m sure glad she does. It’s a sparkling character and a sparkling performance and I truly hope we see more from her soon as the last three stories have had me really excited as we have approached the release date and desperately scrabbling to download them when they come out early and that is pretty much all down to hearing some more Maggie. She convinced the Doctor that Thomas needed a new start otherwise he would slip back into bad habits of which there is definitely a danger of. Its very Evelyn to want to watch over Thomas whilst he settles in, she’s such a wonderful motherly character and after the losses of Cassie and Jem she would want to make sure that this youth moves on with his life successfully. Doesn’t fancy sampling the New York of Europe, 19th Century Liverpool, a great deal! Evelyn has the perfect remedy for Clara’s shock, a nice warm cup of tea! She wonders how she could evacuate the town but accepts the responsibility. She’s so cute when she helps Mr Mole (the Doctor) out of his hole.

Artless Dodger: Eddie Robson handling Charley so deftly in The Raincloud Man, Lucie in Human Resources and now Brewster in Industrial Revolution. I do have some reservations about how this character arc was tied up because whilst Thomas gets an exciting new avenue to knock about in the story does not have enough space to explore the Doctor’s feelings towards the character and their goodbye scenes are oddly excised (both at the beginning where he is already set up and at the end where he dumps him for his unfortunate act at the climax). However, saying that the material that Brewster gets in this story is very good indeed; we get to see him as a worker in a workhouse which is probably where he would have ended up had he never met the Doctor, as a leader standing up for the workers rights, as somebody who can follow orders (his mentor/pupil relationship with Belfrage sings and makes you wonder if he cannot adjust because the Doctor is so unreasonable and condemning) and as a quick thinker, acting to save the world despite the consequences he will suffer. What’s more John Pickard gives his most assured performance to date taking on all of these roles with ease. This might sound completely insane but I would like to see is a trilogy where Brewster meets the fifth, sixth and seventh Doctors with their relationship improving with each re-acquaintance before he shacks up with the eighth Doctor and has a run of adventures with him. They have done it once by picking up his adventures with a consecutive Doctor and I think it would be an interesting experiment to take one companion and see how the relationship alters with each Doctor. Imagine seeing everything out in the universe and losing it. He wouldn’t knock a good wage, whatever he was doing. Those who live the traveller’s lifestyle are either gypsies, actors or crooks – which title would you put Brewster under? Turns out he’s quite a union man – he elects himself as figurehead for the site. Offered a substantial financial incentive to move on and never come into contact with Clara again – its easy to feel sorry for the guy who caught the eye of a lady of reputation whose father thinks he isn’t good enough because he has no roots.  Brewster destroys the core and I was just waiting for the Doctor to go nuts although he thinks he has saved the world! Brewster tries to apologise to the Doctor for what he has done but they have already done. He hitches a ride with Belfrage at the end of this story to go on to have god knows what adventures!

Standout Performance: Rory Kinnear is superb as Belfrage, a wonderfully deadpan alien trapped in the 19th Century. I love the scene where he ineffectually tries to escape from the PC Doctor and Smythe by climbing a wall and falls on his arse! He develops a great rapport with the Doctor and Evelyn, especially the former as he tries to crowbar a sense of responsibility into his conscience! As the Doctor says: ‘Of the factories and foundries and mills in Lancashire the one where the machines come to life and start butchering people just happens to be the one run by an alien crook!’ Belfrage tries to get rid of the Doctor at any opportunity: ‘I just wanted him to stop shouting at me and go away.’

Sparkling Dialogue: The faded glory of Venice lends it a sort of ‘romantic melancholy.’
‘Are you ready to stop being ridiculous?’
‘First they took a few fingers…then they took a hand…now they’re coming for the rest of us!’
‘Squirt for your lives!’
‘Can’t you hear it? The death knell of the Industrial Revolution…’
‘We shall deliver this world from the agony of progress!’

Great Ideas: A dangerous business, a worker loses three fingers. Shorter hours, longer breaks, more pay? Gibson’s severed fingers are fully regenerated! A Carleon – usually red skinned with forked tail – has been smuggling rock salt off planet. Four years ago he parked his astro pod and toddled off to Northwich to pick up his consignment and he got back to find his ship stripped clean! Trying to attain spare parts for his ship so he can take a cargo of salt with him, his retirement plan. The TARDIS has been stolen, loaded on to a freight train for London. Instruments burrowing through the cellar walls, tiny mechanical arms passing raw materials through the cellar, building more of themselves using a large quantity of copper. A catalyst, you give it the best available level of technology to play with and it accelerates the technological level using its own databanks. A hand crawling along the pipes autonomous from its owner! Digging its way into other cellars and spreading out into the town. The machines operating on their own, seeking out flesh. Two processes, two separate intelligences – one evolving towards ever more advanced technology but seems benign whereas whatever is controlling the factory machines goes on the attack. The machines themselves aren’t faulty but they have been mutilating the workforce on purpose to create the creatures. The machines spread throughout the town, wherever you look. The creatures are cannibalising the whole factory, a metal egg ensconced inside the machinery, protected. Turning Stretton’s patch of land into a small strip of Eden, the work of a small terrain enhancer. Making the machines go mad and creating monsters from human flesh just to scare everyone, a gruesome bit of grand guignol to make everybody scared of technology. Inhibitors – somebody has seen the rate of development of human technology and they don’t approve.

Audio Landscape: Door opening and slamming shut, screams and crunching metal, whistle, factory of grinding metals, scribbling, ticking clock, crows screaming in the morning air, the tinkling buttons of the device, a lovely chugging steam train and whistle, train car doors opening and slamming, horse and cart, shifting rubble after a ceiling collapses, whinnying, electric tools chirping, bursting through the wall, the robots bursting through the floor, they drive the creature down onto the tracks where it is smashed to pieces by the steam train, the huffing steam of the engine, whistling birdsong, cocks crowing, the Doctor burrowing his way up through the mud, heavy metallic footprints, laser.

Musical Cues: A lovely smattering of piano in the club. A really creepy scream sting at the end of episode one as Thomas looks for his friend and discovers something nasty. The music gets very exciting in episode three as the pace speeds away.

Isn’t it Odd: Whilst I might have bemoaned the overuse of old monsters in the past you would have thought the very sniff of human parts being harvested for technology would have brought about a suspicion of Cybermen in the area. I thought it was very odd that the intelligence behind the scheme was brought up several times but never revealed which was a huge oversight unless it will be resolved at a later date. Come to think of it we haven’t learnt who created the Terravores in The Crimes of Thomas Brewster either. Oversights or will these elements be picked up in a later sixth Doctor and Evelyn arc?

Standout Scene: The TARDIS has been stolen! Oh no wait…it’s been accidentally tagged an put on a cargo train – a lovely piss take of a very regular occurrence in the Doctor’s life. I love the scenes of the Doctor and Evelyn exploring the cellar as the machinery twitches, hums and beeps around them – it’s a really creepy soundscape that made me look around at the walls of the room I was in in a panic! The cliffhanger to episode is smashing – the chilling advance of the Bodysnatchers. Stretton facing his death singing was really spine tingling. Shoving the creature in the path of a speeding steam train is an awesome set piece – the hissing steam of the train once it stops could practically by me sighing after the adrenalin rush!

Result: A battle of progress versus nature, which starts slowly to lull you into a false sense of security but as soon as it picks up the pace the excitement grows and evolves like the technology. There’s a lovely feeling of mechanical things moving all around you thanks to some creepy sound effects and the spread of the technology through the town gives the story a pleasing feeling that feels are spiralling out of control. My biggest issue with this story is that whilst it gives the Doctor and Evelyn plenty of fun moments it climaxes the Brewster arc (although he is characterised very well) rather abruptly and without much exploration of his relationship with the Doctor. With ghoulish ideas, cracking dialogue and some brilliantly realised action, Industrial Evolution holds the attention well and is a good example of a Big Finish adventure that grips because of the story rather than its arc elements: 7/10

The Forbidden Time - review by Andy Weston

           The world is not as the TARDIS crew know it. Everything is different, greyer. Long-legged creatures are roaming the streets, and they’ve sectioned off time. A great big chunk of it. Unfortunately the Doctor and co are stuck in the middle of it. When Ben is killed the Doctor and Polly know they’ve got to defeat the Vist – but how do you defeat an enemy that seems to walk through time itself?
            The Forbidden Time is only the second Companion Chronicle to feature Anneke Wills as Polly, and as such it’s a rare treat. Anneke Wills has a voice that’s a joy to listen to, and since the story is told from her perspective that’s a very good thing. The framing device this time is one of the most innovative, as Polly is giving a talk in front of a gathering of people, warning them of a similar impending disaster to the one she faced all those years ago.
            The framing device is a very clever one, yet it also doesn’t quite work. It’s interesting to have Polly talking to a room full of the great and the good, all brought together as they are ‘in the know’, either as regards aliens or the Doctor himself. She is telling the story as a precursor to warning them about what is going to happen, how time will be shut off from them and what will occur as a result.
            Another interesting element is the inclusion of Jamie to the story. Where often other companions are played by the lead voice, here we have Frazer Hines himself providing some more depth to the story as he is able to tell parts of it from Jamie’s viewpoint. The way in which this is done is also very clever, since Jamie has a voice recorder and uses it to records the events as they are occurring to him. It’s a very unique and clever use of the second person in the play, and it’s a wonder that such a device hasn’t been used before. Since Jamie is talking in this way as he is very much ‘in’ the action, it does mean that we are not able to hear Hines’ fabulous Troughton imitation, but it certainly wouldn’t work in these circumstances. Not that it is needed, since the way in which it is done is a very clever hook for listeners, and you’re never sure when he will occur again.
            Inevitably, Jamie’s part is far less than that of Polly, and when he too ‘dies’, it is clear that all is not as it at first appears. This does appear to be a minor theme of the production, and this is certainly true of the end...but I won’t reveal that here.
            The cliffhanger between episodes has been criticised elsewhere for taking the listener out of the story, but I for one thought it was a brave move and certainly in-keeping with the nature of time as depicted in the story. It’s a brief lull in the action, but doesn’t damage it as a result. The ending however was – at least for this listener – something of a disappointment considering all that had come before. While the resolution of the story that Polly is telling works well, the very fact of how it occurs has a negative impact on the ending of the play as a whole. There a definite sense than any tension is then lost, the whole event being somewhat deflated by what occurs. It undermines the cleverness of the framing device too, which is a shame considering how well made the play is as a whole.
            The performance of Anneke Wills and Frazer Hines are, as always, superb. Wills carries the story with ease and Hines’ brief moments are supremely well done and give an added layer to the story. Lisa Bowerman’s direction is once again on top form and the audio landscape created is creepy and very authentic to the Troughton era.
            The story itself is very well put together with a very well written script. However, and it’s a big however, the ending really doesn’t sit well with the rest of the story. It doesn’t ruin it completely, but after all that’s come before it does leave a slightly sour taste. It left this listener slightly disappointed, but didn’t damage the play enough to bring my overall impression of the play down by too much.
            It is very good, but it’s a slight drop in the high quality of the last few months. Yet a slight drop in quality in the Companion Chronicles is better than many other series when they’re firing on all cylinders.

Rating: 7.5/10