The travels of the Doctor, Adric, Nyssa and Tegan continue as the quartet arrive in Victorian London (an original idea!) and end up in an exclusive club full of delusional people and an endless supply of people called Edward. Funnily enough, there is more too it than that…
London, 1864 – where any gentleman befitting the title ‘gentleman’ belongs to a gentlemen’s club: The Reform, The Athenaeum, The Carlton, The Garrick… and, of course, The Contingency. Newly established in St James’, The Contingency has quickly become the most exclusive enclave in town. A refuge for men of politics, men of science, men of letters. A place to escape. A place to think. A place to be free.
The first rule of the Contingency is to behave like a gentleman. The second is to pay no heed to its oddly identical servants. Or to the horror in its cellars. Or to the existence of the secret gallery on its upper floor… Rules that the Doctor, Adric, Nyssa and Tegan are all about to break.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
The Doctor (Peter Davison) – The Doctor is getting more and more frustrated with his lack of ability to get Tegan back to Heathrow in 1981, and the TARDIS taking him to 1864 doesn’t exactly remedy this…
Adric (Matthew Waterhouse) – Super intelligent boy from Alzarius in E-Space, Adric is struggling to fit in the with the TARDIS crew, let alone with Victorian England!
Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) – The last survivor of Traken, Nyssa is almost acting like the mother to both Adric and Tegan, even though this time period and planet are just as alien to her as it is to them.
Tegan (Janet Fielding) – Reminiscing about her home, Tegan gets angry at Adric when he seems disinterested in her state-of-the-art walkman, but luckily for her, that’s soon the least of her worries…
The Red Queen (Lorelei King) – Powerful alien who enjoys a good bet, in this case she bet that she could take over England, then the world, using only available resources. What happens to the people during and after this? Who cares!
George Augustus (Clive Merrison) – An agent of The Red Queen’s brother who is trying to make her lose the game, one way or another…
The Edwards (Olly McCauley) – Identical clones who are compelled to obey the Red Queen and her immediate servant Mr. Peabody.
The cover would probably be better without all the CG game-related things flying about, but hey-ho…
This is another story that handles the large core cast well. Mr. Peabody and his Edwards, plus Augustus and angry and concerned daughter Marjorie Stonegood, means the lead four are bouncing between the extra cast in little groups or individuals, and then meeting back up again. It leads to some fun “fish out of water” scenes with the alien or future people trying to live in Victorian London, no matter how brief. The Doctor and The Red Queen’s interactions are good too, when he finds out she isn’t just some power mad alien but instead is just doing this for a bet is priceless.
The Edwards, and their misinterpreting or taking this literally, were enjoyable as well. Despite being willpower-less and on the “bad side” you felt a strange sense of sadness when the clones all started disintegrating towards the end.
Even though it was a little too foreshadowed, I did enjoy that the Red Queen lost the game because The Doctor played Tegan’s cassette, which given they’re in Victorian London, counted as advanced tech and against the rules, costing her the bet.
Although I enjoyed the interactions for the most part, there was a lot of running around only to get back to the same spot in the first two or so episodes. Felt very much like it was a simple plot stretched to fit four episodes.
I don’t normally notice this kind of thing, but Adric called Marjorie by her name early in Episode 2, then a few scenes later he and Nyssa are running after her, during which Nyssa says “Look, we don’t even know your name!”. The specific line by Nyssa made me immediately aware that a little continuity error had snuck into the script. Ah well.
Much like The Star Men, not much! A few references to Adric’s home world and another attempt to get Tegan back to Heathrow. The song that plays on Tegan’s walkman is the same song the Seventh Doctor played the spoons to in the light-hearted Christmas Big Finish Main Range release “Bang-Bang-a-Boom!” from many years back.
Although a few little niggles here and there stop it from reaching the same height as The Star Men, Contingency Club is still a really fun two hours with plenty of great scenes from the lead cast and guest cast alike.