The Doctor brings Mary Shelley to the great exhibition at Vienna in 1873, where he learns that the legendary chess-playing Mechanical Turk is still operating. When he and Mary go to see it, however, the Doctor is appalled to discover that the Turk is actually a severely damaged Mondasian Cyberman. Its “inventor”, a man who performed a repair job that makes Mondasian spare part surgery look elegant by comparison, meets any challenge to the “Turk”‘s legitimacy with extreme hostility, and naturally he and the Doctor quickly find themselves at odds with each other. The Doctor also correctly deduces that a second Cyberman is present on Earth, and Mary finds that a rival inventor has that Cyberman in his possession. If even one of the injured Cybermen can recharge enough to regain full strength, the future of all life on Earth is in jeopardy… so naturally, the Cyberman is lucky enough to speak to a writer of fanciful stories whose imagination can conjure up such ideas as reviving a dead man with lightning.
Cast: Paul McGann (The Doctor), Julie Cox (Mary Shelley), Gareth Armstrong (Dr. Johan Drossel), Christian Brassington (Alfred Stahlbaum), David Schneider (Ernst Bratfisch), Gwilym Lee (Count Rolf Wittenmeier), Claire Wyatt (Countess Mitzi Wittenmeier), Nicholas Briggs (Cybermen)
Notes: The Cybermen in The Silver Turk are apparently the first Mondasians to discover Earth since Cyber-conversion changed life on Mondas forever. However, the Doctor stops them from transmitting their findings back to Mondas, presumably delaying their discovery and any potential invasion plans until 1986 (The Tenth Planet). This is only the second time that Mondasian Cybermen have featured in a Big Finish Doctor Who story; the first was in Spare Parts, also written by Marc Platt.
Timeline: after Mary’s Story (part 4 of Company Of Friends) and before Storm Warning
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: The first of an oddball trilogy following up on the hints dropped in previous McGann audios that the eighth Doctor traveled with Mary Shelley, The Silver Turk is an atmospheric period piece that fits McGann’s Doctor and his new companion like a glove. It’s not so far in the future that Mary is completely out of her depth, and it pays off the promising combination of Cybermen + steampunk much better than, say, The Next Doctor.
It also involves a lot of running around, escaping, getting captured and locked up again, rinse and repeat – this is one of those times when I wished Big Finish was still in the practice of pairing a three-part story with a one-parter, because stretching The Silver Turk out to four episodes made the padding quite apparent. Marc Platt once again demonstrates an uncanny knack for writing stories around the Cybermen of Mondas (as opposed to the more evolved Cybermen that both the audio and television series usually depict), having already written the definitie Cyber-origin-story, Spare Parts, and Nick Briggs nails the strangely singsong speech patterns of the Hartnell-era Cybermen perfectly.
An enjoyable tale, but perhaps trying too hard to fill the four-part format.