What's it about: Drawn off-course, the TARDIS passes through a CVE into a closed universe – a hugely improbable event with a tragically obvious cause. In order to escape inescapable E-Space, the Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Turlough are forced to venture in the wilds of planet Alzarius. But they're not the only unwanted visitors to this strange world. A Starliner has landed, captained by Decider Merrion – but why would Merrion risk rousing the Planet that Slept, and the monsters in its marshes? Mistfall is coming. The Marshmen are coming. But while Nyssa and Turlough find themselves caught in the open, in the hands of fanatics who model themselves on the legendary Outlers, the Doctor and Tegan discover that the supposedly secure Starliner affords them no protection from monsters both within and without...
An English Gentleman: I cannot think of a single time when I have had nothing at all to say about the Doctor in a Big Finish release. Nothing at all.
Alien Orphan: Nyssa is very excited (but nervous) about seeing her daughter for the first time in 25 years and looking almost exactly the same age as her. How will she possibly react when confronted with a mother who has not only not aged a day but appeared to have discovered the fountain of youth.
Standout Performance: Peter Davison sounds bored. Jemma Redgrave sounds bored. Mark Strickson sounds bored. It's quite a shock after three releases headed by the passionate performances by Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant.
Great Ideas: It is plausible that Adric left the programmed co-ordinates in the TARDIS during Earthshock since we did see him tinkering with the console. It's unlikely that the ship would just decide to take them their on a whim but it has a grain of truth to it at least. The Starliner left Alzarius 300 years ago, the Deciders finally plucking up the courage to make a choice. It travelled for a long time looking for somewhere suitable to find a new home before eventually happening upon the Haragee world. They made great friends with the indigenous population, established themselves and cultivated and introduced technology to a world that knew nothing about it. They were a simple people and the Alzarians made it their world, trampling over their natural way of life. Rather originally they called their acquired world New Alzarius. How inspiring. Now that is the environmentalists view of the situation, bringing to mind the hippy ethics of The Green Death. Fem is a Marsh(wo)man that has been evolved into an intelligent, reasoning creature. Improved or perverted, you decide? Two years ago there was a natural disaster, a tidal wave that threatened to wipe out one of the major cities. Decider Meriem made the decision to block the estuary and prevent the destruction of the wave from destroying their habitat. It was diverted towards Haragee land and the wall of water swept through and slaughtered hundreds. Forgive me but wouldn't it be better to dramatise these events rather than simply regurgitate what happened in great gulps of exposition? Had this event taken place it would have been the most exciting feature.
Audio Landscape: The TARDIS screaming as it enters the CVE, jungle sounds, a growling truck, Marshmen slopping out of the mud, bubbling vats, growling Marshmen, a crackling spider.
Musical Cues: Perhaps it is a thing that you can only enter a CV to Paddy Kingsland sounding music because the synthetic music that piped through my earphones was remarkably authentic. For a moment I felt as though I was listening to an audio soundtrack to Full Circle. This is one occasion where I question using the same style of music because with all the familiar plot elements and the identical music it feels as though Mistfall is a little embarrassed to stand on its own two feet and that it actually wants to be Full Circle. Like an obsessive who isn't really happy with who they are and so mimics somebody else, Mistfall's score is startlingly reminiscent of Paddy Russell's work whilst not quite tapping into the same originality and excitement that the show was expressing at the time. And that is simply because it isn't 1980 and the show hasn't just kicked out its in-house composer in favour of the radiophonic workshop. This is 2015, anything is possible with the soundtrack and to slave so close to the original lacks any novelty. Fairs music isn't poor by any means but it is uninspiring.
Isn't it Odd: Surely the TARDIS wouldn't be tricked a second time into thinking that it has landed in the lowlands of Outer Gallifrey. I realise the planet inhabits the same spot spatially in E-Space as Gallifrey does in N-Space but she's savvy enough to point out to the Doctor where they really are. Mistfall reminds me frighteningly of Revenge of the Swarm last year, a story with a first episode that plays out precisely like the story it is aping to the point where you can predict every single scene. TARDIS goes through CVE, lands on (New) Alzarius, regulars discover Alzarians, dangerous experiments taking place with Marshmen, strange ecological things afoot...I could write this in my sleep and for Andrew Smith this is a disappointment, offering up self plagiarism of Terrance Dicks proportions. When there are so many exciting stories to be told I cannot understand what the point of so slavishly copying your own work is about. I was a little bit excited (not 'oh my God I want to make love to the writer' excited, more like 'oh that was a new kind of fart' excited) when the story showed a glimmer of innovation with the forced evolution of Fem but that was immediately followed by a scene with Marsh spiders bursting forth and all my goodwill vanished. And that was followed by the beginning of Mistfall (although if that hadn't occurred the title would be quite misleading...) and knives being drawn in the console. I'm being blinded by inventiveness. 'Live up to your name and decide!' Ho hum.