Bringing Charley to Singapore at last, the Doctor makes the
acquaintance of Sebastian Grayle, a ruthless, obsessed immortal
who claims to know the Time Lord of old, although the Doctor
has never met him before. The TARDIS travellers must embark
upon a journey through history to reverse the damage Grayle
has done to the timeline...
adventure marks the return of a format that has not been used
in Doctor Who since the Hartnell years: that of the
"road" story. Like The Keys of Marinus, The Chase and
The Daleks' Master Plan, each episode of this tale
takes our heroes to a radically different setting.
the story forward involves a fair few unlikely plot contrivances,
though. For example, we are told that the atmosphere of the
TARDIS console room contains healing nanites, which motivates
our heroes to return there at a particular point in the adventure.
A DNA sampler, a similar device to the one that the Third
Doctor used to locate an alien planet in The Paradise of
Death, enables the time machine to trace Grayle's bloodline
back through Earth's history.
are also some notable similarities to the plot of Jon Pertwee's
other radio serial, The Ghosts of N-Space. I was a
little concerned about this at first, considering the rather
hackneyed nature of the plot being emulated! The concept of
a long-lived villain being visited by the Doctor at crucial
points in his history owes a significant debt to N-Space.
And like the Third Doctor and Sarah Jane before them, the
Eighth Doctor and Charley (India Fisher) alter history, although
this time the Doctor claims that they have a "licence to meddle",
since they are actually undoing the damage that Grayle (Stephen
Perring) has done.
rapidly becomes clear that this frequently silly plot should
not be taken too seriously. Paul Cornell and Caroline Symcox's
script is liberally seasoned with witty dialogue, which is
expertly delivered by McGann, Fisher and the members of the
guest cast. McGann delivers a particularly enthusiastic performance,
at times attaining "Tom Baker" levels of eccentricity. Cornell
and Symcox also give McGann the opportunity to employ his
considerable skills as a narrator, which he previously demonstrated
in the 1996 TV movie.
the Doctor's nemesis, Stephen Perring succeeds in portraying
several clearly distinguishable versions of Sebastian Grayle
through the ages.
its overtly comical moments, the story ends on a serious note,
with a dramatic development (one that is unfortunately similar
to something that happened to the BBC Books companion, Sam)
that will presumably be dealt with in a forthcoming adventure.
An incident earlier in the play provides a prelude to another
imminent release - this bizarre scene also managed to completely
mislead me regarding the monsters of the piece.
of Fear is a frivolous and uneven adventure, but is entertaining