Tegan and Nyssa enjoy a vacation world that the TARDIS has conveniently stalled on while the Doctor effects repairs. Turlough tries to stay aboard the TARDIS to help with the repairs, but the Doctor convinces him to step outside and enjoy himself. Within minutes of leaving the TARDIS, however, Turlough encounters an old flame, a girl named Deela, just before they’re both abducted by a pair of mercenaries who know Turlough’s identity. With the Doctor, Nyssa, and Tegan in hot pursuit in a decrepit mining ship, Turlough and Deela are taken to a planet once owned by both of their families. The mercenaries’ paymaster, Renor, needs Turlough and Deela alive to open a biometric lock to a dimensional vault side to contain unimaginable treasures. The Doctor’s procured ship is shot down and makes a barely-survivable landing, but the impact awakens a security system that has lain dormant for centuries, quietly forgetting its programming and going mad. Turlough and Deela are forced, at gunpoint, to try to open the vault, but the controls don’t work – and suddenly, everyone’s life is in danger from the whims of Renor and his hired thugs and from the living guardian known as the Morass.
Cast: Peter Davison (The Doctor), Janet Fielding (Tegan Jovanka), Mark Strickson (Turlough), Sarah Sutton (Nyssa), Lucy Adams (Deela), Michael Maloney (Rennol), Lizzie Roper (Hoss), John Banks (Kanch / Morass)
Notes: The Doctor bemoans his lack of the sonic screwdriver, which he has been without since the television story The Visitation. Turlough’s Trion roots were exposed in the 1984 TV story Planet Of Fire, but this story technically happens before Planet Of Fire, and offers an explanation of why Nyssa and Tegan never mentioned any of Turlough’s background to the Doctor.
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: An intriguing caper that would’ve fit in nicely with the tone of early ’80s Doctor Who – downbeat and somewhat complicated – Kiss Of Death illuminates Turlough’s background nicely without laying everything bare. Doing so also gives Mark Strickson some real meat to work with in expanding the character beyond the lily-livered coward that he’s frequently made out to be in this run of Tegan/Turlough/older Nyssa stories from Big Finish. (That angle was becoming more than a little bit tiring, so it’s a welcome change of pace.)
It also helps to alter the relationship between Turlough and his companions a bit, smoothing over some of the distrust from the revelations in Enlightenment and nailing down Nyssa’s impression of him (on television, Nyssa left in the story immediately after Turlough joined the TARDIS crew, so the two never spent any significant amount of time together on screen). It’s fair to say that Kiss Of Death fleshes Turlough out better than any audio or TV story before now.
The script perfectly evokes that less-than-hopeful feel of many early ’80s stories, when ambiguous, not-so-happy resolutions to the Doctor’s travels were fairly common (also see Snakedance, Terminus, Enlightenment, Warriors Of The Deep, etc.), and the small cast latches on to that and gives it their best effort. (Even Tegan’s contributions to the plot and dialogue are palatable.) If you can handle the black “everybody betrays everybody” mood of the story, it fights right into the “era” it’s trying to revive (the character names somehow manage to sound like they’re from Blake’s 7).