DW: Devil in the Mist Review

dw devil in the mist

The 2019 run of Main Range stories kicks off with a first for Big Finish, despite celebrating 20 years with the Doctor Who license this year: Kamelion! The silver robot whose prop creator sadly passed leaving no one able to actually use the thing, so it was swiftly written out of the TV show… hooray? Well…

Synopsis:

The TARDIS deposits the Doctor, Tegan, Turlough and their android ally Kamelion aboard a prison ship. A ship with just one prisoner: Nustanu, last warlord of the Zamglitti – monstrous, mind-bending mimics able to turn themselves into mist.

A ship that’s in trouble, and about to make a crash-landing…

On a planet of mists.

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

The Doctor (Peter Davison) – The Doctor has decided that having a super-intelligent A.I. robot on board is a good chance to have a poke around in the TARDIS and do some repairs… what could go wrong?

Tegan (Janet Fielding) – Tegan is finding it hard to trust a robot who was once controlled by The Master, especially when she caught it rummaging around in her bedroom…

Turlough (Mark Strickson) – Turlough was also once the pawn of an enemy when he joined the TARDIS, so he can understand what Kamelion is going through, if it can actually feel anything at all…

Kamelion (Jon Culshaw) – Kamelion is a robot with the power to mimic other beings that was recently misused by The Master. The Doctor has taken it on board as a companion, much to the distress of certain members of the TARDIS crew…

Nustanu (Simon Slater) – The last of the Zamglitti, a race that once enslaved countless worlds and often escaped thanks to their ability to turn into mist. Nustanu is currently imprisoned in a ship ran by a pair of Harrigain warriors.

Orna (Anjella Mackintosh) – A member of the Harrigain, a race of Hippo-like creatures who can wield rather large hammers, not that will do much to help her if she is stuck face-to-face with her prisoner…

Rako (John Voce) – Also a member of the Harrigain, but as a male he’s seen as less useful and more frail. He can still lend a hand when needed, even against a rather chatty mist-creature…

Plus more!

The Good:

dw devil in the mist cover

Why is The Doctor keeping an eye on me? What did I do to him?!

Devil in the Mist is an odd story. It was written with the clear intent of establishing Kamelion as a companion by having Tegan not trust it until, well, it gains her trust, and that part of the story is handled well. The main setting of the story is a jungle planet that The Doctor, his companions and two Harrigain (or Hippos in space armour) soldiers crash-land on, all the time they worry about the super deadly creature known as Nustanu who can turn into mist. Early in the story, while they’re still on the ship, Kamelion gets slightly taken over by the creature, which just confirms Tegan’s fears, but of course when they crash they crash in two groups, and Tegan is stuck with the mimicking robot.

There was a clever twist though, as when Kamelion is seemingly taken over by Nustanu in the jungle and Tegan just manages to get away with her life, it’s revealed that the robot starting mimicking the villain because it overheard Tegan say that Kamelion being possessed by Nustanu was the most logical reason for their troubles, and that it was a “monster”. Kamelion’s mind was still fragile from being possessed by The Master for so long, so it latched onto Tegan as she has the “biggest personality” and sort of, took her commands. I was genuinely surprised by the twist, revealed when The Doctor tells everyone that he and Turlough found the body of Nustanu among the rubble. It was good stuff.

The actual final scene takes place in an underground cave with a spring full of instantly water (that Nustanu was trying to steer the Harrigain ship towards to help him) and a rogue A.I. protecting it, that of course then possesses Kamelion for real this time. This was a bit of drag after the good twist, but it does see Tegan lure the possessed robot into the TARDIS and let it choke her until they’re far enough away for the possession to stop. The two make up after that… which is odd, as Kamelion’s first adventure after being manipulated to kill them involved him being manipulated to kill them, so her fears were actually pretty spot on, but hey-ho…

The Bad:

The rest of the story wasn’t up to much though, sadly. Part 1 with the establishing of the deadly enemy and the crash was good, but after that it was three episodes of the two groups walking across a jungle towards the wreckage of the ship, overcoming hostile creatures and The Doctor seemingly being paralysed from the waist down all with surprising ease. The two Harrigain were generic prideful soldier who wants to detonate herself for glory and a browbeaten soldier who finds his courage respectively, so they didn’t add a lot. Poor old Turlough got to do very little, though I suppose given he was in the same position as Kamelion in the lack of trust stakes means he had less of a reason to hate it.

Things like the final half of the final part just suddenly taking place in a cave with magic healing water The Doctor could use to regain his ability to walk, or a hover sled that can be used as a stretcher just happening to be around when The Doctor got paralysed in the first place made the convenience just out-weigh the danger in a lot of scenes…

The Continuity:

References to the console needing repair, not to mention Tegan being unsettled by Kamelion joining the crew, puts this directly after “The Kings Demons”, Kamelion’s debut TV Story.

Overall Thoughts:

Devil in the Mist tells the story of Tegan getting used to Kamelion and somewhat bonding with the robot well, sadly the rest of the story isn’t half as interesting, or even particularly well told. This story definitely falls in the middle category, though if it weren’t the first proper Kamelion story for Big Finish, I doubt I’d remember it a few months from now…

3 Star Listen

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