Prisoners Of The Lake

Doctor WhoUNIT is called in to an underwater archaeological site, where a team of scientists and other experts are investigating surprisingly advanced ancient ruins on a lake bed. But the ruins aren’t why Captain Mike Yates is there; he’s there to look into a number of missing artifacts from those ruins. The director of the project is surprisingly uncooperative, while Mike finds a more receptive ear among the scientists and dive teams. While he’s there, Mike witnesses the discovery of technology among the ruins, a find which he reports immediately to UNIT – and to the Doctor. The Doctor and Jo arrive promptly, and begin taking an active part in the investigation of the “ruins”, which the Doctor theorizes is a crashed spacecraft. The vehicle is guarded by statue-like robots capable of exerting deadly force. The scientists working on the project are now more determined than ever to get past these defenses to discover what’s inside the ship. The Doctor warns that perhaps the robotic guardians aren’t there to fend off scavengers from Earth, but may be there to protect Earth from what’s aboard their ship…

written by Justin Richards
directed by Nicholas Briggs
music by Jamie Robertson

Cast: Tim Treloar (The Doctor / Narrator), Katy Manning (Jo Grant), Richard Franklin (Mike Yates), Carolyn Seymour (Freda Mattingly), Robbie Stevens (Johnny Repford / Director Pennard / Statue / Prosecutor), John Banks (Chief Dastron / Lt. Macintyre / UNIT Operative / Archaeologist)

LogBook entry and review by Earl Green

Review: I’m not sure skepticism is a strong enough word for my initial feelings when Big Finish announced its first full-up recasting of a classic Doctor. To be sure, Frazer Hines had been doing his eerily spot-on Troughton impersonation for years, while William Russell had become equally eerily adept at mimicking William Hartnell…but both of these men had worked closely with the actors in question. Tim Treolar, on the other hand, just happened to have developed a better “Pertwee voice” than most could manage on a good day. He had already played the part of the third Doctor in 2013’s 50th anniversary all-star team-up, The Light At The End, but only for brief scenes, under static, heard over the TARDIS scanner screen. The Third Doctor Adventures was a different animal altogether: Treolar would be recreating the role alongside Pertwee’s surviving castmates, and would be taking a front-and-center role in the two stories presented in this set.

Can one tell Treolar from Pertwee? Yes. He’s at his best when he’s in a gravelly lower register, but at other times it’s fairly easy to tell it’s not Jon Pertwee. In those moments where the impersonation is on the money, it’s almost scary how Pertwee-esque he sounds. Katy Manning magically de-ages herself to her 20s, and suddenly it’s the third Doctor and Jo, saving the Earth all over again. Richard Franklin appears as Mike Yates, virtually the only member of UNIT that Big Finish still has reliable access to, though Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart is name-checked more than once. (It’s interesting that no one seems to be thinking of finding a new Lethbridge-Stewart, though perhaps this falls under the category of “too soon”. Fewer main cast members are alive from Pertwee’s era of the show than any other, so unless further previously-unthinkable recasting takes place, this is almost certain to be the line-up for any further Third Doctor Adventures.)

The story itself is pure Pertwee-era: it’s Earthbound, and there’s a potent combination of both alien menace and human avarice at play (though the two don’t actually dovetail at any point), and the Doctor has to save the human race from itself as much as from the alien threat. There’s a great scene in part four in which Jo is more or less acting as a surrogate Doctor, trying to convince everyone not to blow up the alien ship. This almost certainly places Prisoners Of The Lake closer to The Green Death than to Terror Of The Autons: this is Jo after being in the Doctor’s company for so long that it’s started to rub off on her.