Saturday, 30 January 2016

Gardens of the Dead

In my mind I do a brilliant impersonation of Ronnie Corbett… “My producer said to me, no, no ah ha ha ha, captain of a gravy boat”. Mrs W has other ideas. She’s the same about my impersonation of Michael Parkinson. Mark Strickson however does a phenomenolimpersonation of Janet Fielding – just the right level of realism and exaggeration – Strickson portrays Tegan almost like an Australian seagull that has been strangled and is crowing for its life – it’s hilarious and this story is worth the £2.99 entry fee just to hear it. That could be the end of my review. But it isn’t, there is more…
The story is set immediately after Mawdryn Undead and like the other Short Trips is a narrated story read by one of the cast of the time – this time it is the aforementioned Mark Strickson. The story sees Turlough aboard the TARDIS, Tegan is cold and unwelcoming, not trusting him – and rightly so as it turns out. Nyssa plays peacemaker and the Fifth Doctor is, well, the Fifth Doctor – in control without actually appearing that he is.
As with other Short Trip releases, this is a small on events, big on character release and follows Turlough’s inner turmoil as he battles for control with the Black Guardian. This story is told by an older Turlough who is looking back on his time aboard the TARDIS with regret that he didn’t do things differently and didn’t get to know Nyssa better. STOP RIGHT THERE. This story is in direct contradiction to established main range continuity where Nyssa re-joined the TARDIS crew a short while after Terminus (from the Doctor’s point of view). Is this a deliberate continuity error or is this just following established TV continuity? I don’t know – this is just an aside and in no way ruined my enjoyment of the episode.
The Gardens of the Dead of the title are a memorial gardens with sentient dust that can become an avatar of the person the mourner has come to mourn. There are some touching scenes as Nyssa is reunited with a representation of Tremas – but a virus brought into the garden brings danger to mourners and to the Doctor.
The danger, even though small scale, allows Turlough to bring out an heroic side he probably didn’t know he had, and it also lets the listeners witness what is behind the very last door in the TARDIS.
Full of character and with the best (actually probably the only) impersonation of Tegan I have ever heard – a very interesting story that adds layers of depth to Turlough.
8/10.