The Plot: Millions of years ago, the noble Ice Warriors fled to Deimos, moon of Mars, hoping to sit out the radioactive death throes of their home planet. When the TARDIS lands on Deimos, the Doctor discovers that the Warriors’ ancient catacombs are now a popular stop for space tourists. But the Martian dynasties are more than history, and the Warriors are far from extinct. It’s not for nothing that ‘Deimos’ is the ancient word for ‘dread’ …
“The Martian terraforming project was regrettably brought to a premature end due to the advent of the great recession”
Following the dramatic departure of Lucie Miller at the end of Alan Barnes’ Christmassy feel-bad story Death in Blackpool, the Eighth Doctor suddenly found himself alone. This situation was rectified in Situation Vacant when Tamsin Drew (Niky Wardley) became his new companion after a series of ‘auditions’ held by someone whose identity was left shrouded in mystery at the end of the story. This is finally revealed in this two-part release by Jonathan Morris, which concludes with The Resurrection of Mars. This is a story which deals with the nature of history, as an immutable fact and as a malleable concept in the hands of historians but also for those who are unscrupulous enough to want to change it for their own ends.
Appropriately enough it begins with a mock dramatisation of history as part of a museum exhibit on Deimos, one of the moons of Mars, which has become a tourist destination. Rather than an alternate reality scenario like the one seen in the silly Dalek movies in Rob Shearman’s classic Jubilee or the soap opera re-telling of the Doctor’s adventures in Jim Mortimer’s The Natural History of Fear, instead it depicts the end of the Ice Warriors in that po-faced educational manner redolent of schoolboy monolithic certainty – one that is rich for debunking. The Doctor is quick to point out that the historian-cum-tour guide, played by the ever-wonderful David Warner, is making a lot of errors and these will come to haunt him when unexpectedly the Ice Warriors come out of hibernation, threatening the tourists and the ship on which they are travelling.
“It was the professor with the spanner in the power room …” – Tamsin
While the Eighth Doctor battles to stop Lord Slaadek’s plans to revive the ancient Ice Warrior civilisation, the focus is on the changes to the relationship with Tamsin, who comes to disapprove of the way the Time Lord is behaving, unwilling as he is to sacrifice even one human life when it could save hundreds or even thousands of others. This makes for a fascinating dynamic and Wardley plays the slightly irritating, rather too cponvential Tamzin extremely well, making her behavious, no matter how annoying or inconvenient, quite plausible. Her scenes with the security office played by often exasperated Nicky Henson are also especially good. There is perhaps a little bit too much soul searching here, too much emphasis on the the Doctor being made to consider the import of his actions, but this will reach crisis point in the next play and pays off very well in the end.
It is a bit unfortunate that Big Finish couldn’t release the two-part stories as double disc releases as in the main range since all this does is increase the cost for a story that is otherwise identical in length and approach to the regular monthly titles. None the less, with Warner providing excellent support and the change in the relationship between the Doctor and his new companion providing a fine through-line, this is a highly diverting romp – and ends on a great cliffhanger that brings back several old characters and some much-needed explanations.
The story continues in The Resurrection of Mars.