Released November 2007
After leaving the Doctor’s company, Erimem serves as the queen of the unstable colony of New Cairo. After witnessing Erimem’s death, Peri also decided to leave the Doctor, taking up roots on Earth and trying to be a good girlfriend and stepmother. At least, these are the scenarios ‘The Mind’s Eye’ would try to have Erimem, Peri, and the audience believe as the TARDIS lands on a jungle planet with a plant that lulls its victims into a dreamlike trance while slowly devouring them.
Following the very emotional and trying events of ‘Son of the Dragon,’ ‘The Mind’s Eye’ comes off as a much lighter story, using a very familiar format and storytelling device to add both peril and tension to proceedings. As the Doctor tries to defeat the machinations and schemes of an expedition’s leader and head scientist, the story itself tries to assert a question of which events are truly occurring and which are dreams. The issue is that there never really is any question of which events are true and which are false because the Doctor is constantly there trying to tell them to wake up from their dreams. Sadly, the dream situations themselves are not the most interesting of events and, while enjoyable nonetheless, they simply don’t carry the weight needed for a divided story such as this. Still, the sound design to bring three wholly unique settings to life is very well done.
As always, the acting of the three leads is superb, and Nicola Bryant and Caroline Morris in particular are able to elevate the situations in which they find themselves to something much stronger. Bryant is able to brings a certain degree of anguish to her performance that fits perfectly with a woman trying to become a stable part of her boyfriend’s life as well as trying to cope with what the Doctor is telling her is a falsely created scenario reflecting on her own loss. Morris gets the chance to portray a ruler again on New Cairo, delivering a truly regal performance as someone who values negotiation and discussion over sudden acts of ruthlessness. Peter Davison is, of course, superb as the Fifth Doctor who gets to channel a grand sense of curiosity that then gives way to anger and heroism as he must try to save his companions and stop the profiteering experiments.
Unfortunately, none of the supporting cast members do anything to truly stand out and leave an indelible imprint. This is, perhaps, acceptable for the characters within the dreams since they ultimately have no bearing in the real world, but even the expedition members and scientists seem almost bored. Owen Teale’s scientist Hayton, Rebecca Front’s Major Takol, and Richard Laing’s Ukarme all move events along, but there’s simply an added zest and spark missing from their performances to match what the leads bring. This means that, in the end, ‘The Mind’s Eye’ is a story filled with interesting concepts that unfortunately don’t come together in a fully cohesive and engrossing experience, held together solely by the enthusiasm and emotion the main trio delivers.
Instead, it’s the one-part follow-up ‘Mission of the Viyrans’ that is going to have the most lasting impact. Intriguingly, this story is set after the upcoming release ‘The Bride of Peladon,’ thus revealing some crucial events that are yet to occur. Regardless, after seeing the Doctor’s body transform into a clone of herself, Peri awakes in an empty room, voices telling her to forget everything that she’s seen. However, as she tries to forget, she only finds herself remembering more instead, remembering how everyone at the Grallista Social underwent the shocking change into clones of Peri. Nicola Bryant is truly great here as Peri fears for her life and is shocked at the events she is recalling, and the transformations are horrifically brought to life with some chilling sound effects. The Viyrans are on a mission to expunging the universe of biological weapons, and the infected Peri must be eradicated as Patient Zero. This is a wonderful release both for the character of Peri and for the new menacing race the Viyrans who will hopefully make many repeat returns for Big Finish.