DW: The Elite Review

We reach the Fifth Doctor in our look at the Lost Stories range (not including the story I’ve already covered when it was released, obviously…) and we kick off with a bang! The Elite is one of the better Lost Stories, most importantly if you go into it without spoilers. This was my second time listening to it, and while it was still good nothing beats the memory of that first time reveal… Want to know more? Well, listen to it first, you’ll thank me! … Want to get spoiled anyway, or just want my thoughts? Read on!

Synopsis:

The Doctor offers Tegan and Nyssa a trip to the paradise world of Florana, but instead the TARDIS takes them to a domed city on a planet scarred by warfare. A world where everyone is young, and fighting for the glory of the Elite…

Hidden away in the Cathedral of Power, the High Priest is watching. It knows the Doctor, and his arrival changes everything…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

I have to start off with the reveal. You might guess based on the cover, but in general it was a great moment. The Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan arrive in a military dystopia rather than the flowery Florana and hear that there’s an internal struggle between the military and a religious group that lays at the heart of the country. The church is headed by a High Priest who guides not just his flock but the whole country, and apparently this Priest once “fell from the heavens”. He has a somewhat familiar voice, but it’s not until he is placed back into his old travel capsule that you realise this planet has been controlled by a Dalek who has been out of his case for years in a newly built bubble, he decision to go back into his old case is so he can confront The Doctor his “truest form”. It was a great moment and makes the Nazi-isms that this country have make all the more sense.

The Doctor first cottons on to this when he sees only young people and figures out someone in charge has put in a eugenics policy of eliminating the old and enfeeble. He then finds a school where only the most intelligent are manipulated into learning how to plan and effectively carry out battles and wars, a school that Nyssa soon ends up getting brainwashed in. It all leads to the big reveal when The Doctor arrives at the church, but that isn’t the end, oh no. During this time Tegan has met up with a local group of resistance fighters (as is customary for most stories involving Daleks) and soon they’re bursting onto the streets at the same time that General Aubron (Joe Coen) and Father Thane (Ryan Sampson) declare war on each other, causing quite the chaotic affair. Thane overheard The Doctor and the High Priest talking and found out it truly was an evil alien, so killed it in an act The Dalek was pleased with, it’s dying words being “You have learned well…” which was brilliant.

Let’s stick the cover in the middle to break up the walls of text! Great cover, though if you know your Doctor Who species the big twist might be given away by it…

So as all of this is going on it becomes known that Father Thane is looking to burn the entire planet to sinders by using a weapon called the “Cleansing Fire”, but as The Doctor runs to stop it he finds out that the weapon is actually a radio mast that will send word to a Dalek fleet… so the same result, really. Resistance leader Garthak (John Banks) ends up crashing his jet into the tower and church to stop the “Cleansing Fire”, killing both himself and Father Thane as well as the mast. In the end Nyssa is brought back round (not by having her bottom slapped like a certain other Lost Story…) and the trio head off, but not before The Doctor realises that the flowers everyone is planting to remember the dead in this war against The Elite is actually the start of what will become the bountiful flower fields of Florana, and that he had arrived on the right planet after all, he just never knew how the flowers started, or as it turns out, what they symbolised…

The Bad:

It’s one of those stories I can’t honestly think of any. It’s perfectly paced, never slows down and keeps the twists and turns coming, plus the guest cast is all well rounded and acted. Nope, not really any bad…

The Continuity:

The opening scene establishes that Nyssa and Tegan have spent a few days in Amsterdam while The Doctor had some things he had to do by himself. This places this after Fifth Doctor TV story “Arc of Infinity” for the two companions, and nicely created the spot for some solo adventures for The Doctor, in fact the audios “Omega” and “The Burning Prince” are specifically placed in this spot. It also firmly establishes that The Doctor and Nyssa have been travelling together away from Tegan for some time, which given the amount of Fifth Doctor / Nyssa audios there are, that’s an understatement!

Florana is mentioned in Third Doctor TV stories “Invasion of the Dinosaurs” and “Death to the Daleks”, both times The Doctor planned on taking Sarah Jane to the planet, unsuccessfully. The Doctor in this story also mentions his encounter with the Rosemariners while talking about races with amazing gardens and flowers, nicely calling back to previous Second Doctor Lost Story “The Rosemariners”.

Overall Thoughts:

The Elite is possibly the best Lost Story, it’s certainly close between it, The Foe From The Future, and I believe one or two Sixth Doctor stories I really loved, but I’ll wait until they swing around in this re-listen of the range. Still, my point is: it’s great! Great plot, performances, soundscape, the lot. I can’t actually find out why this story wasn’t made back in the day, but it’s a damn shame it wasn’t, especially given how subpar some of the Fifth Doctor’s TV stories are…

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