The Day of the Comet is an odd one. It had a perfectly fine, if not a bit plain, beginning, then it sort of ended, moved on to another plot and then just… milled about a bit before ending properly. If I didn’t know better I’d say it was a two part story that was made into a four parter… Anyway, want a more detailed look? Why, read on!
The TARDIS brings the Doctor and Leela to the ruins of a once-great city racked by earthquakes, where they find a giant rocket on the side of a mountain. The planet is due to be destroyed by a comet in a year’s time and this ship is the only way off world.
But is everything quite as it seems? At least one person in the city thinks the comet is going to come to obliterate the planet much sooner than people believe.
Which would be bad enough – if there wasn’t a far worse secret hidden behind the scenes…
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
The Doctor and Leela arrive on a planet (whose name escapes me) on the verge of being destroyed, with only one ship left to take the survivors off-world. Cue looters, crazy gangs and a few good people, including Corsha (Sophia Carr-Gomm) and her father Sullerman (Jon Culshaw) and a friendly, if not a little grumpy old scientist Verkuvia (Janet Henfrey). Sullerman manages to buy his daughter passage on board the ship, but she soon finds out that she’ll have to do backbreaking work before the ship is ready, with the watchful eye of the harsh Tynax (Joanna Hole) always overhead. As the story progresses things start getting revealed; first the ship is actually only a hollow shell, then that the other ships that did leave seemingly were destroyed soon after in an asteroid belt, and then that The Doctor can’t actually help anyone because this race, who have the natural ability to fight off all diseases and heal near-instantly, are fated to die in this comet strike as a fixed point in time… oh and the comet that was months away is actually two days away.
So the proverbial hits the fan and The Doctor goes through several cycles of sneaking in as a guard, getting caught and talking to Tynax before he, Leela, Corsha and Verkuvia head to the TARDIS to escape (losing Sullerman on the way) but they’re met by Tynax (who has put a tracker in Corsha’s neck) who wants to go with them. The Doctor admits he can’t take any of them with him and he and Leela must go, all very interesting and dramatic as Part 2 draws to a close…
Both halves of the Fourth Doctor Adventures Series 10 Part 1 have covers far more exciting than the stories themselves…
Part 3 continues the story as a ship arrives claiming to be able to save the last people on the planet, and also claiming to be descendants of the colonists who fled earlier coming back in time to save them. An interesting idea, but soon Tynax is back behind a desk, the people have what turns out to be false hope again, and The Doctor and Leela are being captured, talking to Tynax and escaping all over again. The end of Part 2 was a good climax, but now we’re back where we started. As previously hinted at, the two rescuers are from the future but aren’t there to rescue but instead to capture, the people of this planet being prime genetic specimens due to being extinct in their time. There is a good little call forward when The Doctor is scanned and the duo state that “Time Lords are even rarer, there aren’t many around in the time we’re from” or some such phrase, which was … a nice little nod, I guess. Anyway, more running around, capturing, escaping and death before the villains are defeated and The Doctor and Leela set Verkuvia and a few other survivors off to the latter stages of the universe, where the Time Lords will never find them (and therefore find out he saved a few members of a race that should be dead) before heading off themselves.
Overall, and I can’t believe I’m saying this after the FDA range was so full of disappointing 2-parters, the story would’ve been better had it just been two parts. It might have been a tad generic, but it would have felt like a well-structured story at least…
Not much, really. A few races are name-dropped as being prime buyers for the healing factor of this race, but beyond that, it’s pretty stand alone.
“The Day of the Comet” starts off well enough, with a planet near-death and people who are panicking and being lied to in order to keep their hopes up, but just as its reaching a natural end it switches paths, resets several characters and then goes on for another two parts before we get an ending that feels like we should’ve got in Part 2. The characters are all well realised and acted, so it’s not a bad time, just… a bit disjointed. I won’t be listening again, anyway…