(special thanks to Big Finish for providing me with a review copy!)
Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night
Calcutta, 1926. The Doctor and his companions join an expedition to locate the fabled emerald tiger – a legendary marvel shrouded in myth and mystery. They must journey to an unexplored lost world filled with wonder and wickedness.
But at the centre of this terra incognita, something is stirring. Something with emerald eyes, diamond-sharp claws and a heart of darkness.
Starring: Peter Davison (The Doctor), Janet Fielding (Tegan Jovanka), Mark Strickson (Turlough), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), Cherie Lunghi (Lady Adela Forster), Sam Dastor (Professor Narayan), Vincent Ebrahim (Shardul Khan), Neil Stacy (Major Cyril Haggard), Vineeta Rishi (Dawon), Gwilym Lee (Djahn/Lord Edgar Forster), Trevor Cooper (Colonel Burroughs/Kimball), Benedict Briggs (The Forster Boy)
Ah, India. I’m surprised more Doctor Who stories haven’t been set there. There’s so much rich history and mythology that one would think it something of a no-brainer to do stories set there. But apparently not, as this story is the first one I’m aware of that takes place on the sub-continent. I blame it on residual guilt the Brits feel about their history there. Anyhow, does this measure up? In a word, yes. In two words, yes, mostly. In three words, don’t push it.
This was a fascinating story that does a great job of painting a good mental picture of India circa 1926, and the story itself is interesting and compelling, for the most part. It incorporates a bit of mythology and a bit of science and blends the two interestingly. I also rather liked the concept of mixing in bits of Kipling throughout, with particular blatant attention being paid to The Jungle Book.
However I thought that the conclusion was somewhat lackluster. The first three parts held my attention well and the cold opening to part one was truly sensational. But by the time it got to part four, it felt like the story had lost a lot of steam. There was still some good to be had, but my attention really wandered a lot during part four and it was hard for me to focus on what was happening. I will say the “Me Tegan, you Jahn,” bit had me laughing.
I was a little baffled as to why an older version of Nyssa was with the TARDIS crew, but a quick look at Wikipedia cleared that up, so all good, and the acting by everyone was, of course, sensational as usual. But the weak fourth act keeps me from recommending this story as much as I’d like to. It was good, but not great, and sadly does not live up to the high hopes I had.