The Perfect Prisoners Part One

Posted in Audio by - February 16, 2019
The Perfect Prisoners Part One

Released February 2019


As The Syndicate Master Plan begins its conclusion with John Dorney’s ‘The Perfect Prisoners Part One,’ the Doctor, Ann, and K9 are hot on the heels of the Syndicate itself. But after surviving killer robots and dangerous aliens to save an entire system, their path leads to a machine that can literally rewrite reality and make dreams come true, revealing an unexpected secret even more entangled with the Doctor’s previous actions on Kembel.

The series title and previous instalments have made it no secret that the Syndicate has direct ties to ‘The Daleks’ Master Plan,’ and the revelation that this group is composed of close relations to those who suffered because of the Doctor’s subterfuge to steal the taranium core lends a very personal threat on a scale that Zephon by himself could never quite achieve earlier in the series. Unfortunately, because Zephon was revealed as the son of the being most directly affected by the First Doctor, it does mean that there is some repetition in introducing this newer conglomerate threat as the members list their grievances against the Doctor who is now so close to being in their grasp. While this by no means makes Zephon’s appearance superfluous nor counts as a strike against this story when taken individually, treading essentially the same ground twice in such a short period of time is noticeable, and the relations to the Daleks’ Galactic Council themselves don’t quite manage to inspire confidencethat they are a threat with which to truly be concerned during this opening half. With the exception of Ronan Vibert’s Zaal who provides a calm and commanding sense of power over those assembled, the Syndicate is presented as more of a fragmented force driven by individual schemes rather than by a unified vision and plot, and spotlighting Trantis’s continuing failure to capture the Doctor and Ann while also killing off another member early on makes the first true appearance of this group somewhat underwhelming as a whole.

Far more effective, however, is the prospect of a machine that can retouch reality so that those under its influence can see whatever they would like. As the Doctor points out, however, the safety protocols in place to ensure that the necessities of life are not forgotten implicitly make this a system capable of being controlled by external forces, and that horror is quite quickly proven as Ann uncovers a slave labour force unaware of its true situation and plight. Having perceptions and reality so fluid and unable to be assumed as fact presents an entirely new potential threat for the concluding half, and Francesca Hunt does well as the more aristocratic face of the company behind this technology that is just about to roll out in full to the public as questions about ties to the Syndicate persist. Of course, no character remains quite as enigmatic as Ann Kelso herself given her hidden identity briefly shown earlier on, and throughout the story she once more proves herself to be a physical and even lethal force to be reckoned with, gaining control of and disposing of the Syndicate’s ultimate weapon Senteal with ease. Understandably, this is a sequence that completely takes the Doctor by surprise, but her physical prowess and uncanny ability to pilot the TARDIS make perfect sense when she reveals that she is Anya Kingdom, once more drawing the entirety of the previous conflict on Kembel into focus as events reach a dramatic cliffhanger.

‘The Perfect Prisoners Part One’ is a setup piece through and through and will naturally rely on its concluding half to reveal its true effect, especially since the dream machine being present means nothing presented in this story can be taken as fact just yet. However, whereas the Syndicate as of yet has not reached its full potential due to having such a brief time to develop after not featuring in the first six stories of this series, the smaller details about its members and their physical changes that rectify certain continuity concerns present in ‘The Daleks’ Master Plan’ are seamlessly included and manage to evoke the spirit of that tale from so long ago while also providing a modern update. Though the multiple allusions to an action-packed adventure related to the Syndicate that the audience is afforded only a brief glimpse of is unsettling given the many standalone adventures that have featured in this series, this is yet another fantastic outing for both Tom Baker and Jane Slavin in this dangerous world of treachery and deceit that comes to life so well, and the scene has absolutely been set for a bombastic finale that could change everything going forward.

  • Release Date: 2/2019
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