June brought a third Doctor Short Trips story: The Same Face, performed by Katy Manning, written by Julian Richards. With some reservations, it’s another solid release and any opportunity to hear more Jo Grant is always welcome. A lot is suggested by the product page: on the planet Samael, Felicity Morgan keeps being assassinated. And living. Felicity has one face and many lives.
Speculation as to Felicity’s true nature aside, the story has a slow start. In case we haven’t read the blurb, there’s a rather ponderous opening whereby Jo Grant gives us lots of exposition. I don’t see why this section is needed as the story soon turns to yet another assassination of Felicity, only this time the Doctor is determined to get to the bottom of just what is happening.
Once that’s out of the way the story picks up pace and we get a range of characters introduced, all of whom would be interesting to have heard fleshed out had this been a full-cast story.
As might be expected there are Time Lord angles to this story and here Julian Richards finds both some new angles and a pleasant (and also of the era) twist to spice the plot up before the end. There are deceptions but also a chance to think about the Doctor’s own relationship with other Time Lords and even some ethical considerations. It’s not as black and white as a debate on whether or not the end justifies the means, but it’s enough to make the story more interesting.
Of course by the end foes are defeated (for now), and we can only hope there will be more opportunity to hear of Jo’s further off-world adventures with the Doctor in future stories (the Third Doctor Adventures currently focusing on introducing the recast Brigadier and Liz Shaw means this is when the Doctor is still trapped on Earth).
Comments on the beginning aside, it’s a rewarding story well delivered by Katy who still channels young Jo perfectly after all these years.