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A couple of spoilers here:
A good one, this. I\'d almost call it \"hard SF\", and I\'m reminded very much of stuff by Arthur C. Clarke and his disciples. A bunch of people live out a rather spare existence on a comet, and the Doctor and friends are thrown into the middle of a political/commercial conflict. Throw in the cloud-like Jovians, something which I\'m sure I\'ve seen before, either in a Clarke story or something very like it, and we have what turns out to be a very intriguing puzzle. In the interview extras the director talks about wanting to convey a sense of tension; of people living on the edge and on the point of \"doing something drastic\". This actually comes across rather well in the script and acting. Characters don\'t always behave quite in the way you\'d expect. They decide things rather abruptly and even recklessly. One of my favourite moments is when Chica is told of what\'s going on on the other side of the comet and just promptly grabs the public address mic and shouts out everything to the whole base staff. Wouldn\'t we all like to do that sort of thing if we found out about the dastardly schemes and manipulations underpinning our society?
I appreciate the subtlety of the script, too, which doesn\'t really beat us over the head with detail and over-explaining stuff but instead opts for a subtle approach. You have to stay on your toes a little bit to keep track of what\'s going on and especially to understand the characters\' motivations. Nobody here is quite what you\'d expect, except maybe for Major Nash, who seems like a bit of a caricature of a \"good ole\' army boy\" and is rather ridiculous. I really liked Anton and it was a real pity about what happened to him, as I found myself really hoping he\'d make it through the story. Patricia, on the other hand, is taken out and shot like a dog that\'s outlived its usefulness, and even though she was rather despicable, I was a little shocked at how quickly and mercilessly she was just done away with. Not that I\'m complaining!
The Jovians are pretty cool, but their buzzing electric storm voices were a little incomprehensible to me in the early episodes. Either I got used to it or things just improved later on in the story. They seem rather easily convinced of the duplicity of their allies, but on the other hand it\'s nice to see the Fifth Doctor\'s attempts at diplomacy actually working for a change.
The regulars are all well served here. The days of the crowded TARDIS team wandering uselessly around with members having nothing to do seem to be pretty much over. Turlough sells the trial scene like this is the sort of stuff he was meant to play. Nyssa really tugs on the heart strings with her attempts to save anyone and everyone, no matter how wrong or horrible they might be--it\'s almost as though it\'s become a compulsion for her by now. I like how at first the script plays on her apparent sexual naiveté by having her not pick up what seems obvious to Tegan: that manny is Violet\'s boyfriend, but in the end she turns out to be completely correct! Tegan is at the centre of everything, investigating the secret base and coming up with the idea that saves everyone, only to apparently kill Nyssa in the process. This is well done and is an obviously deliberate call-back to Earthshock, except this time Tegan understands what the Doctor\'s perspective must have been in that story. It\'s interesting how Big Finish seems to seek to redress some of the obvious problems that plagued the Davison era. I must admit this line of adventures (with Tegan, Nyssa and Turlough) had me most skeptical in the beginning, but has turned out, after a shaky initial trilogy, to be very worthy indeed. It\'s also great to have Mark Strickson back. he really is a superb actor, and I think I missed him more than I initially realised!