Doctor Who: The Guardians of Prophecy
Written by Johnny Byrne and Jonathan Morris
Published by Big Finish
This release is the first of three Lost Stories featuring the Sixth Doctor and Peri. Conceived by Johnny Byrne in the early Eighties for Season 22, as a sequel to his story The Keeper of Traken, internal politics at the time apparently meant his idea never progressed beyond storyline stage.
The Doctor and Peri are seeking a holiday destination when they find themselves orbiting Serenity, a planet run by a rich ruling class supported by a super computer Prophecy. The travellers are soon caught up in a revolution that threatens to release the long dormant evil that is Malador.
One wonders if Byrne was influenced by Raiders of the Lost Ark, just released at the time of conception, as much of the running time involves the search for Malador’s tomb, with various obstacles and adversaries in the way. The supporting character of Ebbko, a notorious intergalactic thief, is of particular help to the plot here, and Graham Cole’s layered performance of this role is a highlight.
Malador himself, played by Stephen Thorne, is an old school Who villain, with shades of Omega and ?other would-be universe botherers. His aim to purge said universe of its sense of good is an interesting one, and Malador’s scenes with the Doctor are tense and involving, even if the outcome is never really in any doubt.
Byrne’s story was intended as two 45 minute episodes, and Jonathan Morris’ script extends the tale by a further 30 minutes. This does result in rather a lot of location hopping, which becomes a little confusing at times without visual references to keep track. However Malador’s ?Melkur henchmen, statues who come terrifyingly to life, no doubt benefit here, with the mind’s eye able to draw on a greater production budget than the Beeb could have afforded back in the day.
Colin Baker’s Doctor is captivating throughout, with both writer and actor tapping the more lighthearted elements of Sixie’s TV adventures, rather than his darker portrayal of recent Big Finish releases. Nicola Bryant’s Peri remains an excellent foil, redolent of a more simpler, and perhaps more satisfying relationship between the Doctor and his perky female assistants. ?The opportunity to hear more from this great double act is but one reason to applaud Big Finish raising Malador, and this story, from eternal slumber.
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