Oh dear, Leela has left, but the moment has been prepared for. Enter Romanadvoratrelundar..or Romana(although the Doctor was all for christening her Fred). Her first appearance on screen was jaw-dropping. Long,tall,beautiful and majestically Gallifreyan, she walked around The Tardis like she owned it. Not that she would want it. A wonky type-40 would have been beneath her. This incarnation of Romana first appeared in The Ribos Operation, the first part of The Key To Time sequence. Check out the expression the Doctor shares with K9 the first time he lays eyes on her in the Tardis console room. For a brief moment the ghost of Harpo Marx plays across his features. It is a lovely moment and shows the intimate regard he has for his second best friend. It is great that K9 is still traveling with his master at this point, still doggishly loyal and dead-pan as ever. They are a funny dysfunctional pretend family are this Tardis crew. Grown up but utterly child like. The perfectly pitched performance by Mary Tamm as the aristocratic time-lady allows for a very special dynamic between the pair. She is so patient and grown up while he is allowed to play the gifted lost boy. The Key To Time was an epic quest with a different episode every Saturday tea-time at the tail end of the decade now remembered as...the Seventies. Long thought passed we have ended up there again thanks to the good people at Big Finish. Seven new episodes detailing what came next after their escape from the Black Guardian. After he almost tricked them into doing his dirty work for him. The retrieval of an all powerful artifact to be put to some nasty business by an all powerful evil entity. An epic quest with a twist in its tail and a truly startling glimpse of a demented Tom Baker on top form. Oh how I love Old Who! Yet here are seven more wonderful stories in a season gifted to us by people who are producing some of the best Who ever.
Here are seven new stories which possess cross-over elements rather than a linking story arch. The first is a wonderful PGWoodhouse inspired comedy of terrors that just lends itself so perfectly to this particular Tardis crew. Its a great start and hits the ground moving in the most charming fashion. The wordplay and the comedic timing dazzle under confidant and joyful direction. Just listen to the extras following for greater insight and appreciation. Next we meet The Lann and the barmy but brilliant Cuthbert who is more than a worthy rival for the doctor(played by David Warner..yes,I know only bloody David Warner!). after that the Tardis crew face the Justice Of Jalxar and we see the sublime return of Jago and Litefoot(Hurrah!For me thet represent Doctor Who's finest spin-off. Yes I said spin-off. Go and investigate. Treasure awaits!). It is just Who at its finest. You can practically smell the pong of Olde London Towne. From there the Tardis takes us to a watery Abyss where Alice Krige(yes, only bloody Alice Krige!) leads a scientific expedition into very dangerous waters indeed. And just as you are coming up for air who should reappear but Cuthbert and his private security guards The Daleks(Yes!Only the bloody..well,you get the picture.). It is an epic conclusion to a season that was surely televised in some other dimension. Actually that is not fair to the incredible things Big Finish achieve on their own terms. They are just the best at what they do.SNKT! Two special mentions for the wonderful John Leeson as K9 and the equally wonderful Toby Hadoke as Mister Dorrick. I do hope we meet them again in other stories. Not jus for what they bring to the stories they are in but for the fun they bring to the extra material.
There is an added poignancy to the proceedings with the sad passing of Mary Tamm. Another victim of that terrible disease cancer. He performance is so informed with a lightness of touch and a gentle joy that is hard to imagine how ill she was to become. Her time as Romana in these stories is just as lovely as her onscreen time all those years ago. Better written in some ways. She seems to draw an impish quality from Tom Baker who obviously found Mary to be utterly charming. The last line of the series belongs to her and will bring a tear to the eye of the listener.
There has been much talk of late about the possibility of a female incarnation of the Doctor. We now know that at least for one more incarnation this is not to be. however way back in 1990 that very notion was put to Mary Tamm in an interview. Would she consider becoming the Doctor and her reply was a resounding yes. It was even suggested that it would perhaps turn out that Romana was The Doctor all along. I do not know about that but I cannot help but imagine how classy the interior of the Tardis console room would become with her as the pilot.
Time and its relative dimensions would never look better.