Kiss of Death, by Stephen Cole
Was there ever a companion more maligned than Mark Strickson’s Turlough? After the Black Guardian trilogy of stories he was given very little to do, and that’s why he decided to up and off shortly afterwards (I’m sure I read that somewhere, but now I can’t find the damned page or link. Anyone?). Anyway, that’s already changed during the expanded adventures Big Finish have created, though some might argue that the writers have tended to emphasise his strong streak of self-preservation over anything else.
Now we get the added bonus of a story based around Turlough himself and his history. Kiss of Death makes use of his Trion ancestry while still managing to keep the Doctor ignorant of Turlough’s past. Suckered and kidnapped by gun-toting mercenaries after an apparent chance encounter with an ex-girlfriend, Turlough is bundled off to an asteroid that used to belong to his family – where, hidden within a secure dimensional bubble, is reputed to be a vast horde of secret treasure. The only way to gain access to the bubble is via a combined-DNA lock that opens when Turlough and Deela kiss, which is why the mercs have been scouring space for him.
Obviously, the Doctor isn’t going to take the abduction of one of his companions lightly. With the Tardis temporarily out of commission, he has to give chase in an old rust-bucket freighter. And his arrival – or, rather, his crash-landing – sets off the asteroid’s security system. Which is cranky. Oh dear.
There are good things about this play – the asteroid setting, the need to get by without the Tardis, the frantic subterranean struggle against the security system, Turlough’s frustration at being dragged back into a past he’d hoped to have left behind. Unfortunately there are also bad things about this play – Kanch’s accent and the horrible urban colloquialisms, the whoops-reveal of Deela’s allegiance, Rennol’s single-minded devouring of furniture (metaphorically), and the over-processed voices of the Morass (again!).
At least Janet Fielding’s performance as Tegan tips the balance back over to the side of good and light. Yes, that’s right – a decent, rounded script for Tegan! Plus, Turlough gets a moment to shine and for once the focus isn’t entirely on his perceived cowardice. All in all, a good show.