Doctor Who and The Guardians of Prophecy

‘The Guardians of Prophecy’

DrWho_BigFinish_The_Guardians_of_ProphecyLost Story 3.04
Written by Jonathan Morris (from a story by Johnny Byrne) Directed by Ken Bentley
Released May 2012

Eager to show his traveling companion Peri a delight for the senses,the Doctor materializes the TARDIS om Serenity, a planet within the Traken Union. Having survived the cataclysm that cost the other worlds when the Master operated the CVE manipulator, Serenity is anything but serene and operates on a carefully kept balance between good and evil. Whereas one Melkur had landed on Traken, several are trapped in a garden in which the TARDIS has landed. The timer travelers find that not only are they in a restricted zone, but they are not alone. A scribe and an expert safe cracker are hard at work on breaking into the tomb of Malador, an evil being of mythical significance. When the Docor learns that Malador is entombed on Serenity, his blood runs cold. He may be the stuff of nightmares and legend for the people of Serenity, but any Time Lord can tell you that Malador is very real and very deadly.

Part of a set of scripts that were submitted but never produced, The Guardians of Prophecy is a direct sequel to The Keeper of Traken, a story about the nature of evil and its strong influence of the altruistic. It has some similarities, but The Guardians of Prophecy is stronger in characters (most notably the thief Ebbko) and some clever dramatic tension. Unfortunately, it is a muddy mess that cam never really find its footing. The drama shifts from episode to episode starting with a political coup then moving to the attack of a wraith-like being who should be dead, Malador, using an army of living statues (who knows what that would have looked like).

While I enjoy his work on Space: 1999, I have to admit that Johnny Byrne never really fit into Doctor Who for me. Of his three scripts for the program, only Keeper of Traken functions well and even that one has some problems (chiefly the muddled plot that shoe-horned the Master into it makes the story a cobbled mess). However, this story similarly handicaps the threat of the Melkur with the inclusion of another monster, Malador. Even an army of Melkur are undercut by this decaying corpse villain. I honestly feel bad for the Melkur.

Despite all that, Jonathan Morris has crafted an excellent adventure here. Plenty of strong characters and likewise excellent performers (with the notable Stephen Thorne playing Malador, a part that gravitates between strong and stock from scene to scene) bring Byrne’s Guardians of Prophecy to life. As Colin Baker himself points in the extra interview on disc two, the Doctor is still rather prickly and egocentric, not the warm Sixy that we got in the Big Finish era and I definitely enjoy the contrast. The harsh wit, the devil-may-care bravado and the brilliant mind hardened with a monumental ego make the Sixth Doctor one to remember.

I imagine that if this story had made on screen it would have been a success solely on the merits of the performances from the main cast. But alas, we will never know.

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