The Children of Seth, by Christopher Bailey & Marc Platt
The Lost Stories trilogy comes to an end with a tale that features another much-loved genre actress – Honor Blackman is the force that pulls The Doctor into the plot, however tenuous and unexplained (to me, anyway) that pull might be. Meanwhile Adrian Lukis and David Warner vy for prime scenery-chewing moments – and Nyssa gets her mind wiped, again! All par for the course in this mini-season of tales from the vaults.
I’ve heard a lot about how this play had Byzantine influences and I guess some of those make their way through to the final version – this Empire’s insistence on formality and ceremony is an obvious nod, as is the Consort’s position in the hierarchy, but other than that I wasn’t so impressed with the setting. Much more could have been made of the androids. Even more confusing was the final revelation concerning Seth itself – this story thread was seemingly abandoned halfway through in favour of the more direct threat of the androids (which worked a lot better in my opinion).
For my money the character of Shamur, as played by Vernon Dobtcheff, was under-used and the scene where he described a climactic battle against a foe that turned out to be his own demons was some of the best writing in the play. As Seth was supposed to be “the enemy within” it would have been fascinating to see a story that made more of that psychological approach rather than have the Doctor flummox virtual realities by quoting vast banks of numbers at them, Matrix-stylee.
That, then, concludes my cobbled-together Season 4 of Fifth Doctor stories. We’re heading up towards Snakedance now, TV-show-wise, and from there to Mawdryn Undead and Terminus, where we say farewell to Nyssa. Season 5 of Big Finish Folly will begin post-Terminus and Enlightenment with Turlough on board the Tardis.