The second story of the Third Doctor Adventures Vol. 3, Storm of the Horofax is a fun story, filled with a good few Third Doctor tropes and, oddly, a few new series ideas thrown in. The Horofax aren’t memorable and I doubt we’ll see them again, but as a one off story, it’s good. Let’s take a closer look! (and quickly, so we don’t have to see the rush job I did on photoshop to try and get rid of the previous story elements from the artwork…)
During a North Sea military exercise, the crew of the destroyer HMS Nemesis detect what they suspect is a submarine following them. But it’s actually a futuristic ship with an alien occupant, Arianda.
The Doctor and UNIT are called in, but things are already running out of control. The damaged craft is leaking particles and contaminating the Nemesis with time disruption.
But that’s not the biggest problem. For Arianda is being followed by the warships of the Horofax, who have picked precisely this moment to invade. Soon the destruction of humanity’s future will begin.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
The Doctor (Tom Treloar) – The Doctor heads out to sea after hearing of an alien life form that had been brought aboard a destroyer. While most around him seem sure she’s harmless, The Doctor knows something is wrong, somehow…
Jo Grant (Katy Manning) – Despite a cold slowing her down, Jo is willing to hope on board a helicopter and see what all the fuss is about, and alongside The Doctor, she soon begins to regret that decision…
Arianda (Robin Weaver) – The mysterious alien who is brought on board the HMS Nemesis. She seems friendly, but with the power to see into the future, is she really as harmless as she claims? … given this is Doctor Who, the answer may not surprise you…
Major Hardy (Robert Hands) – Hardy is a member of UNIT that has been with The Doctor and Jo since the Auton incident. What’s that? You’ve never heard of him? … well…
Adam Rigg (Iain Batchelor) – A regular park ranger, having a perfectly regular day… *ahem*
Even more now I can’t help but notice how one-sided this cover is…
This is one of those stories where I don’t know how much of it is particularly original, but it’s nonetheless well written enough that it’s a very enjoyable two hours-ish. A mysterious alien, then a mysterious alien force, then a bit of the old brain washing, followed by some Earth at stake plan revelation and some New Series “Time Locking” and then close it off with a final showdown and another New Series reference of someone being erased from history to the point where even his close friends forget about him. Like I said, none of this is new, but it comes together well enough that you don’t think about it.
Major Hardy being a good old friend of The Doctor and Jo irked me at the start, I couldn’t help but wonder why they didn’t get Richard Franklin in to play Yates, but then it became apparent that his being erased from time was a plot point, by the end only The Doctor could retain his memory of Hardy. While not as effective as Rory’s disappearance from the TV series (though a lot more permanent!) it did leave The Doctor with a touching final sentence of “I’ll remember, I always remember all of them”. (or words to that effect).
I had to laugh at the start of the story, when Arianda is presented as a helpless alien who happened to wander into the path of the destroyer’s training ground. It made me think of how un-Doctor Who-y it would be for Arianda to legitimately be an innocent alien who was brought on board and then helped out. It would be a crap story, excitement wise, but it would be unique! Instead we get a generic general type with a grudge against humanity, which I won’t put in the bad because Robin Weaver gives a good performance, but it’s still not the most original thing in the world.
I quite enjoyed Adam Rigg, a completely innocent park ranger caught up in the middle episodes of the story. He was a pleasant character, well written and acted.
The Horofax themselves, who turn out to be Arianda’s army, are pretty boring. Slaves in suits of armour with a modulated voice… I mean, I kind of like how they were enslaved, by having their timeline altered so they end up making the choice of joining rather than any actual manipulating in the present, but at the end of the day, they were still pretty dull to listen to.
With the exception of the few New Series things, especially Earth being Time Locked, a phrase used to describe Gallifrey after the Time War starting from the 9th Doctor’s era, there isn’t actually anything directly referencing the past. Well, Major Hardy is said to have met The Doctor and Jo during the “Auton business”, which would mean either the Third Doctor’s debut story “Spearhead from Space” or one season later’s story “Terror of the Autons”. The Doctor also mentions he helped with the Axons, referencing “The Claws of Axos”, another Third Doctor story.
This passed the time quickly, a pleasant, traditional script with The Doctor and Jo being on fine form and a really good guest cast. It has some twists and turns, though most of them aren’t new or particularly hard to see coming, it doesn’t really take away from the experience. Not perfect, but a great way to spend two hours.