Paradise 5 is the odd one out of the original Lost Stories run, as it was originally the third segment of the “Trial of a Time Lord” season, rather than having been planned for the series that was eventually replaced by it. That means it’s in four parts rather than two long ones, and it also means quite a bit had to be rewritten! The original had Mel as a companion (in her first story no less!) and loads of Trial scenes in amongst it, so this Paradise 5 isn’t as much a Lost Story brought back as much as one that’s been adapted. Still, after all that waffling, is it any good?
The Doctor and Peri visit the planet Targos Delta to check in on old friend Professor Albrecht Thompson, only to discover that he has vanished. He was last sighted taking a shuttle to the holiday resort of Paradise 5, then never seen again.
The Doctor’s curiosity is piqued. They must investigate, but they must do so stealthily… Peri will go undercover on Paradise 5, while the Doctor hides in the shadows. Because paradise holds a terrible secret beneath the white marble and golden trimmings. The mute Cherubs have a story to tell. And the Elohim are coming. Beware.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Paradise 5 is actually one of the stronger stories of the Lost Stories. The Doctor and Peri, after rightfully making fun of both the Hollows of Time and the Sixth Doctor’s regular habit of “meeting an old friend” being the catalyst for a new adventure, they find out that said old friend, Albrecht Thompson, has gone missing shortly after heading to Paradise 5, a leisure space station in the same planetary system they arrived at to meet him. Naturally they head there, Peri disguised as a new Hostess and The Doctor… just hid in a box. It’s there they meet Gabriel (Alex Macqueen), who, sadly thanks to his brilliant performances as The Master (probably due to his great performance here) I couldn’t unhear him as The Doctor’s old enemy whenever he talked with his false cheer and arrogance. Still, he was great, and together with his other half Michael (James D’Arcy) they made a good double act, and amusing villains.
As The Doctor and Peri soon meet and befriend a duo of hostesses called Stella and Bella (Helen Goldwyn) and a slave race nicknamed “Cherubs” for their small baby-faced human appearance. Of course this lovely slice of paradise (5?) turns out to be something far more sinister, as otherwise this would be a rather boring story. The vanishing guests are being hooked up to a machine and drained of their essence, which is then given to an other-dimensional race called the Elohim who are at war with another race of their higher plane and need some disposable troops (which these drained human “souls” are able to do). The Cherubs meanwhile are the shrunken bodies left behind from those people, only capable to following simple tasks, so… not very nice. The Doctor realises that a Cherub who had been helping him via writing on the floor was his old friend Prof. Thompson, and is heartsbroken when what’s left of his mind in the tiny body is killed saving him from Gabriel’s gun.
Seeing the Cherubs don’t make them any less creepy (I think… the image is rather small… *sigh*)
The Doctor begins to unravel everything, meanwhile a ship from the Elohim’s rival race arrives and all things go to hell. Michael sets the space station to crash into the lava-ridden planet below and he and Gabriel try to make an escape. Sadly for them The Doctor, Peri, Stella, Bella and the remaining Cherubs take the last shuttle, so the two villains decide to share a drink together before their death, at ease with the fact that they were playing with fire, so wasn’t all that shocking they got burnt.
Overall it’s a good story, with a pre-Master Alex Macqueen showing how great a villain he can be, and lots of little side stories. I don’t know how the Cherubs would’ve looked on a mid-80s budget, probably some unfortunate little people in creepy baby masks, but either way, on audio it was a good listen.
A side character who survived his encounter with the machine and left to wonder the halls eternally “waiting for an interview” with a half-swollen face was funny in a dark way, but also didn’t amount to much beyond calling the Elohim’s rival race to the station with The Doctor in a scene that the latter could’ve done by himself. It was… meh, alright. Easily removable, anyway.
Maybe the middle sagged a little, with the revelation of what was going on teased for a good length of time, but really I didn’t feel it was too bad. Even the unoriginality of the reason as to why they made their journey is at least made fun of…
A fun design for the Elohim, though to be fair, a skeletal figure in a hood isn’t exactly that original…
Apart from a shot at the unfortunate previous story, “The Hollows of Time”, and The Doctor having his Sonic Lance from “Attack of the Cybermen”, there isn’t much here, continuity-wise.
Paradise 5 is a really good story. I don’t know why I didn’t particularly remember that going in to this relisten, but it did mean I was pleasantly surprised all over again! I don’t know if this would’ve worked out better than what is a good story in itself in “Terror of the Vervoids”, but it certainly wouldn’t have been any worse. A good two hours entertainment.