Review by Frank Plowright
Clara wants to learn to ski, so providing she avoids the ice sharks, what better place to begin than the snowy wastes of Isen VI?. Except it’s now been terraformed as lush tropical jungle to become the personal playground of the 25th century’s richest human Kano Dollar. In principle, the technology permitting inhospitable planets to be converted to habitable zones is welcome, but only if they’re very carefully checked beforehand to ensure they’re not concealing any millennia-old malevolent entities at their core.
Robbie Morrison captures the twelfth doctor’s fractious and contrary personality extremely well, giving him some great lines when he’s annoyed – “when I warn people about impending global cataclysm I don’t expect them to swan around in their Sunday best waiting for it to happen”. He equally supplies Clara with the perfect pomposity-pricking responses. His wit is matched by Dave Taylor’s art. Taylor excels when providing locations and scenery, but doesn’t bother with exact cast likenesses, just approximations, which are just fine.
To some extent the opening plot follows a TV show template of the supposedly perfect society somehow having failed to take something into account, and hubris preventing an effective solution. Morrison works well within that formula, not least by introducing an interesting life form in the Hyperion, a form of miniature sentient suns, old when the universe was young, and a race that the Time Lords have encountered before, and believed extinct. A second story ties into the Thugee culture, worshippers of the Goddess Kali anticipating her return and killing to prevent it. It spans the British colonial era and the future of India, and is a story where the colouring takes on greater importance. Taylor’s pages have a suitably splendid scope, but Luis Guerrero adds a vivid quality associated with India’s sense of colour, and it’s a wonderful combination.
One problem with a person who can manifest anywhere in time and space is that they should always be able to prevent a death. Perhaps this anomaly has been explained somehow in the TV show, but it’s an obvious query here, and underlined when a later story element has the Doctor deliberately arriving early somewhere else and announcing that playing with time is his speciality. There’s a little too much reliance on the sonic screwdriver almost being the equivalent of Harry Potter’s wand, but these are solid, entertaining Doctor Who stories, and the series continues with Fractures.