Companions of the Doctor, it seems, are just like buses. You wait for one to come along and thenâ€¦well you know the rest. This month is one of those moments as not only do we have the return of Vislor Turlough but also Aussie loudmouth Tegan Jovanka!
In a landmark trilogy that Doctor Who fans have been waiting many, many years for, the old TARDIS team of the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Turlough are back and itâ€™s like theyâ€™ve never been away.
Cobwebs is a twisty wisty timey wimey affair which starts off with Nyssa, fifty years after she left the Doctor and his friends to stay on Terminus. Rather than dying there (as was predicted by Tegan) she cured the disease that she set out to and then left to help the rest of the Universe.
For the Doctor, Tegan and Turlough events are much fresher. Nyssa has only recently left them and they havenâ€™t properly adjusted to her leaving yet. This is where the play is really smart. As a listener, one really starts to appreciate things from Nyssaâ€™s viewpoint as we too have not had this line up in the TARDIS for a fair few decades. Whereas the Doctor and co slip into events like nothing has changed (and for them it really hasnâ€™t) Nyssa has different viewpoints now and looks at the world in a different way, which is exactly what many fans who watched their televised adventures in the eighties will now be experiencing. Whilst the Doctor, Tegan and Turlough stayed the same in their remaining adventures, we got older and saw many different aspects of life and what it has to offer.
And how does the team work together after all these years? To coin a phrase, â€œitâ€™s like riding a bicycleâ€. The four actors slip effortlessly back into their roles, Janet Fielding and Mark Strickson especially rebound well off one another in their initial slanging matches over distrust. It was always an interesting point that was never brought up, that in between Enlightenment and The Kingâ€™s Demons, Teganâ€™s doubts about Turlough seem to disappear. This is a man who did try and kill the Doctor a fair few times after all and so her comments seem fairly valid. This is addressed in Cobwebs when the pair start agreeing with one another over their continued right to carry on living when beings look set to finish them off. Tegan does nicely remark to Nyssa that Turloughâ€™s â€œon probationâ€.
And the adventure itself? Whilst itâ€™s not the most original play that Big Finish has ever produced, thereâ€™s still plenty to enjoy and get to grips with. The cliff-hanger for part one sets up a big mystery that needs solving and the resolution to it is very clever. Some portions of the play have similarities to 2010â€™a The Beast Below, where memory wiping is used to facilitate better workers. In a nice twist, Cobwebs takes this a step further and deals with the effect this has on the subjects mentally as well as physically.
Will Cobwebs feel like a fresh start? In a word, no. But thatâ€™s not what it sets out to do. Itâ€™s a healthy bowl of nostalgia with some character development sprinkled over the top for additional effect that will leave you hungry for more.
Next up on the tick list, the return of Adricâ€¦
Cobwebs is available now on DVD and MP3 download direct from www.bigfinish.com!