AUDIO REVIEW: Return to Telos

Return to Telos
By Nicholas Briggs

Starring Tom Baker, Louise Jameson, and John Leeson

Out Now - Buy HERE

Review by Richard Unwin

This month’s Fourth Doctor release is the second half of a story that began with July’s The Fate of Krelos. The two titles essentially make up a four-episode story, so we don’t recommend tackling this without first having listened to the proceeding instalment. (And at least a vague working knowledge of TV adventure Tomb of the Cybermen would be no bad thing either…)

Telos begins where Krelos left off: The Doctor and Leela, having failed to halt the invasion of a technologically advanced planet, find themselves in an out-of-control TARDIS hurtling towards a destination determined by an apparently possessed K9…

Leela: Telos? I have never heard of it. How do you know that it is bad to go to this Telos?

The Doctor: Because I’ve been there before…

Let’s start by talking about what this isn’t. It isn’t a thrilling team-up of The Fourth Doctor and Leela with Jamie McCrimmon. Despite much hype about the appearance of the Second Doctor’s companion in this season finale, the character’s involvement is actually extremely minimal. In what seems like something of a missed opportunity, Jamie and Leela, the two great warriors of the TARDIS don’t actually meet, and thus we’re denied any scenes of the Scot and the savage waving their dirks at each other. We can only concur with the actors involved when they declare on the ‘CD extras’ a yearning for this oversight to be addressed in a future adventure.

Any feelings of disappointment, however, are all to do with promotion. Had Frazer Hines’ involvement been kept a secret, and his face off the cover, we can well imagine being thrilled and delighted with the little kisses to the past that are included. And rest assured – there’s a surprise or two that definitely weren’t revealed in the sales pitch…!

So, issues of expectation management aside, what are we left with? The good news is that this is a solid script that makes interesting use of the Cybermen. There’s a relatively straightforward central conceit around which the plot revolves – something of a ‘connect-the-dots’ puzzle made up almost entirely of icons of the show – what links a fragment of Jamie’s kilt to The Fourth Doctor’s scarf…? And why is K9 behaving so oddly? Author and director Nicholas Briggs has a great deal of fun with the dubiously dominated dog’s reactions to the metal men of Mondas, and K9 actor John Leeson gives one of his most memorable performances. Mechanical mash-up mayhem! Hooray!

Tom Baker and Louise Jameson are a joy to listen to, as ever. The pair have really hit their stride in this third series of adventures together – so much so that we’re left feeling rather forlorn that there are currently no further releases scheduled featuring this dream duo. (Though we’re still very much looking forward to Baker’s teaming with Lalla Ward’s Romana for next year’s voyages.) Scenes in which Leela angrily challenges The Doctor’s ethics stand out as particular triumphs – Jameson, especially, delivers pure audio gold.

Frazer Hines with Bernard Holley and Louise Jameson

Leela: So we save Relly and Geralk, but leave the others to die? Or be turned into walking dead? Is that your plan?

The Doctor: I don’t have a plan Leela! Nothing’s gone to plan since we arrived on this doomed planet!

The ultimate resolution to the problems posed by the Cybermen turns out to be surprisingly prosaic, but we rather enjoyed the unexpected simplicity of it. Top marks to Briggs for skilfully hiding the solution in plain sight.

Return to Telos is extremely ‘fannish’ in terms of back-references and continuity – probably not one for newcomers, but for old hands it’s a rich and pleasingly indulgent pleasure, and one that may well benefit from a re-listen without the burden of expectation.

Thanks to Big Finish

Review by Richard Unwin

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