The release of a new Third Doctor set is always a reason to celebrate in my eyes, though I’ll admit this opener being a sequel to the fun but quite dull Frontier in Space had me slightly worried. Conspiracy in Space is two episodes shorter and so does manage to keep itself moving forward and generally kept me entertained. Let’s take a closer look!
When the TARDIS is diverted to Draconia, the Doctor and Jo fall foul of the hawkish Lady Zinn. War with Earth seems imminent. The Draconian military are on high alert and rumours of a super-weapon are rife.
Execution, assassination, intrigue and a mysterious faction known only as ‘The Eyes’ are all part of a deadly mission the Doctor and Jo have no choice but to accept. But as they fight to survive, the peace of the entire galaxy hangs in the balance.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
This is one of those weird situations where it’s actually a prequel to Frontier in Space, set before the Human-Draconian war, but from The Doctor and Jo’s perspective it’s happening after. This immediately gets The Doctor in trouble when he and Jo are unexpectedly thrown off course and arrive on Draconia where our lead Time Lord addresses the Lady Zinn (Imogen Church) as if he were a noble of Draconia, which from their race’s perspective, he’s not yet. He and eventually Jo are put up for execution for insulting a noble but are saved by Draconian Secret Service member Ruji (Sam Stafford) under the orders of the “Grand Widow” (Issy Van Randwyck), or the current ruler’s mother. Turns out it was her who called them there and it’s all to do with a meeting between Earth and Draconia that is to take place and a scientist called Emerald (Aurora Burghart) who has defected to the Draconian side because she is aware of a plot to use a “Magnetoid” to disrupt the asteroids in the middle of the Human-Draconian frontier and rain down hell on the lizard people’s home planet.
While The Doctor heads off with Emerald to meet her contact in a shady asteroid full of outlaws (which included a fun scene where The Doctor nearly uses Venusian Akido on a Venusian!) Jo and Ruji becomes outlaws themselves when Zinn kills the Grand Widow and frames Ruji for it. To top things off The Doctor is betrayed by Emerald who had been scheming with Zinn to frame Earth and cause a war between the two planets but when she learns The Doctor actually knows how to create a Magnetoid she keeps him alive and gives him the old mind probe in order to get the knowhow. As Emerald creates the dangerous planetoid The Doctor meets back up with Jo and Ruji, who are in turn followed by Lady Zinn in a battleship. A whole bunch of backstabbing (sometimes literally) later and Ruji escapes with Jo as The Doctor risks his life to put a stop to the Magnetoid, which he does via a bit of the old polarity reversing causing the station everyone was on to be pulled into its surface. With all the “bad guys” defeated The Doctor and Jo leave once more against their will, this time it’s the Time Lords pulling them away from a crucial point in time, which means Ruji is left assuming Jo died via the Magnetoid. He leaves Draconia in search of adventures new…
Nothing stood out as really bad but it has to be said that the story felt very… plain. It was one of those ones where I was entertained throughout but was never “hooked”, the story felt right and ended in a satisfying way but I doubt I’ll particularly remember it in a few months’ time. In that sense it follows quite neatly on from Frontier in Space as that has a similar effect on me…
By using one of the Draconian characters from Frontier in place of their new ones, are they suggesting they all look alike?! Racist bastards!
As mentioned a few times the Draconians first appeared in the Third Doctor TV story “Frontier in Space” and have since made appearances in several novels, comics and once previously on audio in the Sixth Doctor story “Paper Cuts”. They have yet to make a reappearance on TV, however…
Given they reference “Frontier” and given the fact that “Planet of the Daleks” follows straight on from it and “The Green Death” is Jo’s leaving story we can place this tale in between Planet and Green Death.
Conspiracy in Space is a good follow up to an admittedly not that great TV story (though I like it more than most, seemingly!) it goes along at a decent pace and by the end the story is wrapped up in a neat bow, though I can’t shake the feeling that it just wasn’t THAT good. Hard to explain, but it’s worth a listen, definitely. A strong 4 rather than a 5.