Secrets of Telos

Posted in Audio by - January 15, 2022
Secrets of Telos

Released January 2022

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

To mark forty years since the Fifth Doctor’s televised debut, Big Finish has promised a journey throughout the Peter Davison era in a series of stories under the aptly-titled banner Forty.

Matt Fitton kicks off the celebration with ‘Secrets of Telos’ that- oddly enough- serves as direct sequel to the Second Doctor classic ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen.’ The expedition in that serial, of course, was anything but an absolute success, and the Doctor, Adric, Nyssa, and Tegan quickly find themselves under suspicion when they arrive amidst the handful of survivors slowly making their way home. While the threat of the Cybermen re-emerges, though, the Doctor must also try to understand just how he has come to inhabit a future version of himself and who or what could be manipulating events to such an extent.

Unfortunately, relatively little is done with the intriguing plot point of a Doctor displaced within his own timeline, leaving any exploration of the reason for this for a future story. Instead, most of the drama provided from this centres around the fact that the younger Doctor is unaware of how Adric came to part company with him, a fact that neither Nyssa nor Tegan is willing to reveal to him until the story’s end. It’s an odd decision to make this massive temporal anomaly such a nonfactor as the Doctor casually takes the subtle changes in his companions’ appearance and confidence in stride, and presumably the Cybermen were chosen as this story’s foe precisely because of the tremendous emotions they can invoke in this particular trio of travelers given their shared experiences and Adric’s ultimate fate. It does allow for a bit of a shortcut narratively, though, given how well the original serial is known, and thus the action can pick up almost immediately aboard the ship Professor Parry and Captain Hopper fled upon at the original’s end as residual Cybermats begin the conversion process anew.

The first two episodes set aboard this ship are wonderfully tense, making the most of the claustrophobic environment and an impending sense of doom to emphasize the unique horror that the Cybermen and the Cybermats in particular can pose at any point and out of any shadow. After a momentous sacrifice, however, the story completely changes course as Professor Vansom’s actions upon the shrouded planet dubbed Telos Minor become known. This brings with it the immense visuals of the local fauna that Vansom has converted using a Cyber factory as the very worst elements of capitalism again take precedence, but even the arrival of the ship’s converted individuals to take control away from Vansom doesn’t quite manage to seamlessly blend these wholly disparate halves. Each half is inherently unique and certainly exciting in its own right even if the second is a little less so, but neither necessarily expands directly upon what ‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’ offered and the events could have just as easily been reconfigured to be wholly standalone without any returning characters given how events ultimately unfold.

As always, Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton, and Janet Fielding are superb in their roles and have plenty of opportunities to showcase their individual characters’ strength and resolve against seemingly insurmountable odds. And although Christopher Timothy and Ronan Summers do not attempt to recreate the vocal stylings of Aubrey Richards or George Roubicek in their recasted roles, each lends an incredible power and gravitas to the affair aboard the spaceship that then opens the door for Barbara Flynn to assume control as the narrative shifts off of the ship. Of course, Nicholas Briggs is an expected highlight in any story featuring the Cybermen, and his impressive era-specific work here creates one of the most viscerally impressive outings for this race in Big Finish’s ever-expanding catalogue. Still, this story barely touching on the Doctor’s displacement aspect it introduces and doing relatively little new with the characters it has chosen to bring back from a story that was broadcast well before the Fifth Doctor era that this set is meant to celebrate both somewhat dilute the overall strength of each of the two distinct stories on display. ‘Secrets of Telos’ offers a tremendous amount to enjoy and certainly captures the spirit of its era and the energy of its leading trio, but it’s one that would undoubtedly have been even stronger without relying on the Doctor’s past and the lingering thread of what will yet befall him in this set.

This post was written by

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.