Although it was only a few days ago when I reviewed The Macros, this Sixth Doctor Lost Story was released several years after that, so it does feel weird going straight to it for this marathon! Anyway, Guardians of Prophecy is a sequel to The Keeper of Traken by its original writer Johnny Byrne, set on the last remaining planet of the Traken Union and features Melkurs, so if you liked that story you’ll love this, but what if you didn’t like Keepers of Traken? Well… let’s find out!
The TARDIS materialises on Serenity, the last surviving world of the Traken Union. Peri expects a good place for a holiday — not tomb raiders, a labyrinth filled with terrifying monsters and a trap-laden necropolis.
For Serenity’s gentle name belies its history as the home planet of the Melkur, soldiers created to serve a long dead dark force, the embodiment of evil itself. Whilst they sleep, vicious thieves are after this force’s secrets, and will stop at nothing to find them.
But will they find more than they bargained for?
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
The first thing that jumps out to me about Guardians is the world building. Sure, it feels very similar to Traken, especially having a Guardian being the only person able to contact a being that is governing them, but it also throws in a class struggle between the high-born Elect and the more common Meers without lots of scenes of groups of Northern-sounding rebels shouting a lot… though the famous thief Autolycus Ebbko (Graham Cole) does cover a lot of that stereotypical ground, he was at least funny in his caricature-ness. The first half of the story follows disgruntled court scribe Auga (Nigel Lambert) and Head Guard Mura (James George) as they plan to take down the A.I. that has been ruling the planet via the Elect for generations. To do so Auga breaks into the tomb of infamous evil villain Malador (Stephen Thorne) with the help of Ebbko (and Peri, who accidentally gets caught up with them while The Doctor is brought to trial)
It’s here that the big twist happens, as Auga was under the impression the tomb was just to scare people away from the A.I.’s core system, but it actually WAS the tomb of Malador and shutting down the A.I. frees him. Malador is a proper cartoon villain, booming evil voice, no tragic backstory, layers or depth, just pure Emperor Palpatine-level evilness. This should really be a negative, but as I always say on this blog, I do love a cheesy villain! He even brings with him a whole army of Melkurs, actual Melkurs rather than The Master’s TARDIS, who… well, just do a good old fashioned Doctor Who lumber-about-a-bit. This leads to The Doctor, who at this point had been sentenced to death in a labyrinth full of time vortex creatures but was saved by the same A.I. that had been destroyed in resurrecting Malador, *catches breath* arriving and spending the next two episodes with Peri and Ebbko as companions trying to stop the destruction of the planet at the hands of the evil madman.
After Malador does the whole “trying to get The Doctor to admit he’s an evil killer” shtick The Doctor banishes him to the timestream where he’s killed by the Labyrinth creatures, in part thanks to the noble sacrifice of Ebbko, showing the old fashioned thief wasn’t so bad after all. It’s a really fun story, so long as you’re not looking for deep interesting villains and are more in the mood for cheesy good vs. evil stuff.
A nice bit of artwork, but how vertical it is really makes creating the thumbnail a pain in the arse…
The Elect are either extremely boring or The Guardian (Simon Williams) who sounds like a really insulting parody of someone from India or something. The idea that Auga and Mura are framed as the bad guys is baffling. Sure, Auga ends up a bit of a power-mad dictator type instead of fighting for the rights of the common man, but routing for the Elect and their “we were born to rule the planet under the orders of a machine and therefore the common people don’t have a say” is equally impossible. Luckily when Malador arrives that whole story is dropped anyway, apart from some scenes with the Elect in prison but not seemingly learning their lesson, and a final scene where they agree to run the planet fairly… though I don’t buy it, personally…
There are some references to a Star Wars-like Force of good and evil existing in the universe, which doesn’t really match up with how the Doctor Who universe has been shown to work. I don’t dislike the concept, but it seemed out of place.
Obviously this is a sequel to the Fourth Doctor TV story “The Keeper of Traken”, as well as “Logopolis” where the rest of the Traken Union of planets were wiped out by the “entropy wave”. The Fifth Doctor and Nyssa also visited an ancient version of Traken is the audio story “Primeval”.
The Guardians of Prophecy is a fun story, with two distinct halves and a great cheesy villain to entertain you (if you’re entertained by that sort of thing). It’s not perfect by any means, especially whatever the hell accent The Guardian has, but it’s certainly a breath of fresh air after Megaptera and Macros…