Review by Doctor Squee (Host of Gallifrey Stands Podcast)
I could almost feel like when Matthew J Elliott wrote ‘Makers of Demons’ that he had read my review of ‘Fiesta of the Damned’. I am not enough of an ego-maniac to think so (and he wouldn’t have had enough time) but it’s like he missed any of the pitfalls I found in ‘Fiesta’ to deliver a wonderful story (with due respect to the fore mentioned story!)
The story is straight-forward and engaging. The Doctor and Mel have been to the planet Prosper to settle some humans in with the locals (the Mogera) and negotiate a treaty to make this possible. Leaving behind a new and sustainable energy source ‘Doctorium’ (discovered and named by guess who!). Years later The Doctor, Mel & Ace return to the planet; but the peace has been shattered and the Mogera have been transformed into monsters, seemingly by Doctorium; but as you might guess there is more to this than meets the eyes.
Having a story featuring a previous companion, Mel (Bonnie Langford) that has returned to the Tardis gives scope to do a story like this and make it feel like it’s a long time between visits. If they just had Mel coming back with the Doctor from her original time on-board I don’t know if it would have the same feeling of time passing for the Doctor and Mel. It also gives the ability to have Ace being on the outside of original events and to discover the planet a-new.
It’s nice in this way to break up the Doctor and Ace a bit. I love their usual relationship but this gave them something new to play. The Doctor spends more time with Mel in this story and Ace goes off and gets to play alongside Talpa (Ewan Goddard); a Mogera who is fighting his feelings of rage that the Doctorium has caused. The paring between Ace & Talpa is really funny, heart-warming and sometimes sad as you see the effects on the planet through his eyes and get to discover he is a sweet soul beneath the monster. Sophie Aldred as Ace rides the line of trying to escape from being his prisoner, being heavily sarcastic and realising the ally she could have in Talpa.
This also gives a great vehicle for Sylvester McCoy to show the more reflective side of the Doctor when faced with a happy ending he had thought he had left turned into a bitter conflict that seems to be his fault. He plays it perfectly. Andrew Hall and Lucy Briggs-Owen as Alonso and Miranda respectively give a really good double-act as the leaders of the humans on the planet.
This is a near perfect adventure, great story, acting and pacing. Surprising twists and keeps it as dramatic as it does fun. 9/10 sonic screwdrivers!
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