This reviewer will come clean straight away as to not being the biggest enthusiast of the last few Fifth Doctor trilogies. The premise is a good one, with an older version of Nyssa rejoining the Doctor, Turlough and Tegan sometime after Terminus and the performances and production values have been enjoyable but there’s never been that one story, that interesting theme in a tale, to keep one coming back for more.
However, words are sometimes there to be eaten and in the case of The Emerald Tiger, it’s a tasty piece of humble pie.
The TARDIS crew find themselves in Calcutta in 1926 to watch a very important cricket match but how often do things go well for TARDIS dwellers when they’re having a fun and innocent day out? That’s right, never. Bitten by a “rabid” man, Nyssa falls ill and as if that’s not enough, the TARDIS finds itself on a train which means that its crew are not far behind. Thus begins the hunt for the fabled Emerald Tiger, a myth that has attracted all sorts of people, right and wrong, to come and find it.
What follows is simply one of Big Finish’s most stylish and well directed stories that they have ever done. The Doctor and his friends all have plenty to do, Tegan is given the most apt description of herself ever, Turlough’s humane side starts to show up more and more and Peter Davison gets some wonderful “Doctor” lines to get his teeth into.
The supporting cast add a separate layer to the proceedings giving depth and momentum at exactly the right moments. Cherie Lunghi as the well to do but slightly damaged Lady Adela brings a bittersweet and interesting backstory into the game, Neil Stacey’s Major Haggard is wonderfully horrible as he twists and turns from gentleman to complete bounder (with a horrific comeuppance) Vincent Ebrahim as Shardul Khan will have you rewinding bits of his dialogue just to hear his purring tones again and Professor Narayan (Sam Dastor) will warm your heart as a companion that never was.
With the explosive cliffhanger at the end of part one, we’re given a meaty filling for parts two and three, with little exposition and more of an organic unravelling in terms of plot and revelations which leads nicely into part four with a neat resolution and some character development for Nyssa as well.
The Emerald Tiger is Barnaby Edward’s best and strongest work that he has written for the Doctor Who range and gets the fifth Doctor season off to a brilliant start.
The Emerald Tiger is available from www.bigfinish.com now.