The Lost Resort and Other Stories sees Peter Davison’s Fifth Doctor reunited with his companions Nyssa, Tegan and Marc. Suffering a crisis of conscience, in the wake of Marc’s partial cyber-conversion, he temporarily abandoned them on a supposedly safe planet – eventually choosing to return after a series of solo adventures.
This boxset, containing three adventures, concludes Marc’s story and begins with the need for a big conversation.
Ghosts from the Past
Bound for Gallifrey, with plans for a mediated meeting to confront their issues, the time travellers instead find themselves elsewhere. Arriving on a planetoid with some unique temporal geography, they find a hospital and the ghost of a deceased friend.
Writer AK Benedict pens a creepy and thought-provoking tale which plays out over four episodes. The Lost Resort examines life and death in various forms, forcing the Doctor to confront his guilt over Adric’s demise. Matthew Waterhouse returns to voice the ill-fated boy companion, and the story grants him a far more meaningful ending. The other companions enjoy challenges too, with Marc under threat thanks to his technological augmentation.
In the guest cast, Julia Sandiford impresses as Fabrico, the servitors with a central intelligence and some attitude; we felt shades of the recent Ninth Doctor Adventure Planet of the End, although this AI was far less benign. We also loved Clare Louise Connolly’s childlike innocence as the robot boy Thad.
Stranger than fiction
Landing aboard the RMS Oceanic, bound for San Francisco in 1890, the time travellers encounter a famous adventuress; Nellie Bly is just a few days away from beating Phileas Fogg’s (fictional) record for circumnavigating the globe. As they befriend Nellie, they become aware of a plot to sabotage her attempt.
Based on real events, Sarah Ward’s two-parter is a terrifically entertaining affair; from the drama onboard ship to locomotive antics ashore – there’s even a monkey for good measure! We always enjoy a ‘pure historical’, where the TARDIS and its crew are the only science fiction elements in the story. It is something Doctor Who rarely does, but the remarkable Nellie Bly is fantastical enough to fuel plenty of action. The Perils of Nellie Bly is that brilliant sort of story that demands you to look up the facts afterwards. For us, it is the best in a strong set and Nellie’s adventures could easily have filled four episodes or more.
While the regulars have plenty to do here, Sydney Feder steals the show as the irrepressible Nellie. We also loved the meta-fun had at the show’s expense when she talked about remaining in the same outfit.
The Sink Plungers of Morpheus
This boxset’s final two-parter brings us the Daleks with a rather unusual twist, which we will endeavour not to spoil. Drawn off course, apparently by Marc, the TARDIS arrives on a drilling rig on a randomly serial-numbered planet. Mandated to spend eight-hour sleep periods, induced in pods, its crew are suffering night terrors disturbingly familiar to the Doctor. Terrifying dreams from which many are not waking.
Nightmare of the Daleks offers a fascinating concept with a spooky setup. Split across both waking and sleeping worlds, this interesting mystery reminds us of the insidious Dalek threat; even when stalking your dreams, writer Martyn Waites shows us that the Daleks are a force to be reckoned with!
The Lost Resort and Other Stories concludes the story of Marc. Joining the TARDIS in 2019’s Tartarus, his journey has played out across three trilogies of releases. It has been an interesting one, his presence – and near loss to the Cybermen – forcing the TARDIS crew to confront their feelings in the wake of Adric’s death. Something rather glossed over on-screen.
These three stories, and especially The Lost Resort, demand emotional performances from this tight-knit TARDIS team. Peter Davison’s Doctor is certainly taken to places which feel fresh, while Sarah Sutton and Janet Fielding give excellent value as the measured Nyssa and the strident Tegan.
For his part, we enjoyed George Watkins’ performance as Marc, who managed to convey intelligence without worldliness and was able to rationalise the wonders he saw. The wide-eyed former Roman slave certainly put paid to any notion that companions need to be contemporary to act as an audience identification figure. Marc had the sort of reactions we imagine Katarina might have has if she had survived The Daleks’ Master Plan.
As ever, the production on these stories is exemplary and we look forward to where The Fifth Doctor Adventures go next. First up, the celebratory Forty, released across two volumes in January and September.
Doctor Who – The Fifth Doctor Adventures: The Lost Resort and Other Stories is available on CD and download from Big Finish