Target Zylon


Cliff Bowman

February 2000

Jeffrey Coburn sounds more like The Doctor than in (for example) "Empire of the Daleks". Accents are tricky things to do, but while he's previously reminded me of an Englishman trying to do a Chinese/Asian accent, in Target Zylon he comes across more as "The Doctor". This may be due to hearing his voice more often, but I rather think it'd due to his improving accent. The whole story suffers somewhat (to me) from the crossover with another famous TV SF series - and I simply don't usually like crossovers. The uneasy crossover between Doctor Who and "this other series" was highlighted in a scene where, in perfectly intelligible English, a Zylon asks about a translator function and having been told (in English) which device houses the translator he immediately instructs a human to turn it on. In English. Then the Zylon continues to speak, exactly as before... It's a brief passage but one which emphasises the fictional and crossover aspects of the story too bluntly for my liking, breaking suspension of disbelief for a moment. If activating the translator (even comparatively close to the TARDIS) actually accomplishes anything I didn't notice it - so I'm not certain what else that passage was meant to achieve.

Occasionally the speech can seem a little fast and/or overwhelmed by the "ambient sounds" - although given surrounding events when this happens it's difficult to see how this could be made clearer without detracting from the story (after all, when there's little time we DO tend to speed up, and when in battle things tend to be noisy). The sound in general is pretty good - although I particularly liked the noises produced by Zylons when not attempting human speech. This gave them a believably insectoid nature which, given the lack of visuals to accomplish the task, was a definite boon. It's too easy to forget when making an audio story that the listeners wont be watching, and so can't *see* the characters involved. The Zylon's nature is carefully eked out by a combination of sound effects and sparse description - a vast improvement on the "info dump" technique sometimes
employed by both audio and books.

This is a fairly standard yarn, told and (on the whole) acted well. The resolution is imperfect, showing that The Doctor isn't "superman" or "God", but working within limitations to his best effect. If we ignore the crossover to another series then this is a story which could easily have happened during many of the TV eras - in fact I can't think of any TV Doctor who couldn't fill Coburn's role with minimal changes. A little more angst over the potential repercussions of the resolution, after the event, or actually investigating them to ensure that the repercussions were definitely minimal (rather than assuming this) wouldn't have gone astray. A good romp IMO - much like "the old days".

I'm determined to try and "mark" the audios out of ten, and this - my first for review - is giving me a hard time.

Pros: Acting, Doctor's voice, well realised aliens, SFX

Cons: Crossover, Translator sequence.

Overall Score: 7/10

For comparison, Whispers of Terror (my favourite Doctor Who audio in some years) would get 9/10 where Sirens of Time would get something like 7/10 to 8/10.


Charles Danbee

January 2000

What appears to be the end of the Star Cruiser story line is handled quite well. We see some interesting characterisation for Mark Triyad: an old, tired warrior. Something quite different from what we've been treated to up until now. It was actually somewhat surprising that he elected to stay on with the Doctor instead of returning to (almost) his own time. The story has a good pace to it when you get past the first episode and is good fun for those who like space-battle epics. Quite a feat for an audio-drama. (5/10)


John Parr

September  2007

Target Zylon is the fourth story from Jeffrey Coburn's first series as The Doctor. It has a total of four episodes, each with slightly shorter durations than usual.

To begin with, I felt that I quite liked the storyline. It's nice to have the Zylons back again after a while of being absent from The Doctor Who Audio Dramas. I've always personally liked the currently available Zylon stories, and I have to say that Target Zylon is one of the very best.

I can't really find anything to be that negative about. Almost everything worked extremely well. Too many explosions and loud background sound effects sometimes spoiled the overall essence of a few scenes. But, other than that, virtually everything within the story was near to perfect.

Comdr. Mark Triyad's character, portrayed by Peter Hinchman, got his real chance to shine in this story. A lot of explosive action scenes, along with a deep alien storyline, is just what Doctor Who needs sometimes. Also, both The Doctor's and Dara's characters managed to play majorly enough roles within the story as well. It's very difficult to prevent such a war-like serial to slip into being based solely around Mark Triyad's character. The Doctor Who Audio Dramas did a very good job in avoiding this. Well done!

As a final comment, I think that it's safe to say that Target Zylon is definitely one of the best serials from Season 28. The only story that I felt just beat it to be my season favourite is The Price of Paradise.

6/10


Ben Chatham

March 2008

Plot:

The Doctor finally gets Mark back to his proper place and time (give or take five years) and arrives during the dying days of a galactic war between the United Federation of Planets and the insectoid Zylon hoards. However, something terrible is happening in the not too distant future, and energy ripples are heading backwards in time from it. Using some elementary detective work and the TARDIS, the Doctor and Captain McCormick discover that the Zylons are creating a breeding hive on the planet Insidious, which just happens to be composed of highly explosive elements. Unfortunately, humanity realize that they can win the war by nuking Insidious, despite the fact that the missiles plus the highly explosive planet will tear a hole in the universe, causing the ripples they’ve been suffering. The Doctor sabotages the missiles, and Mark helps him, but one missile is still fired, enough to wipe out the hive and cause the ripples, but not destroy the universe. With the Zylons crushed, Mark has the choice to return to his own time, but decides he’d rather keep travelling with aboard the TARDIS.

Story:

Target Zylon is the latest in the Star Cruiser saga, a series of stories set in the 24th Century where the human Federation fends off the Zylon advances through the buffer zone known as the Spicer Quadrant, with recurring appearances by Commander Mark Triyad: Terror of the Zylons, Death to the Zylons, Curse of the Zylons, Web of Death, The Ultimate Weapon, Mindmask and Terror on Terra. Although based on the old computer game Star Raiders (a Space Invaders style shoot them up game) the setting has developed into the universe of Star Trek (which is fair enough, since Star Raiders was built on a Star Trek computer game format). As such, Target Zylon is difficult to judge on its own merits, despite the fact the plot is structured so the uninitiated can follow it.

Exactly why the idea of a Doctor Who/Star Trek crossover is so popular is not exactly clear – although it would be amusing to see the Fourth Doctor on the bridge of the USS Enterprise, there isn’t much more appeal. Either the Star Fleet crew would become futuristic expendable UNIT troops to help out the Doctor, or the Doctor would be rendered something like Q: a sarcastic time traveler more likely to get in the way of the humans and most likely end up in the brig after five minutes. The Star Cruiser stories aren’t quite set in the Star Trek universe, but neither are they truly Doctor Who. Thirty five years of desperate warfare sit badly in the utopian times of Star Trek, and the Doctor Who universe features a xenophobic and ruthless Earth Empire before it collapsed and turned into a completely different Federation where humanity is just another (relatively ignored) member race. However, Target Zylon achieves a good balance by giving all the typical Trek moments (the damaged ship under siege) to Mark and Dara while all the typical Who moments (the time ripples and sabotaging missiles) to the Doctor.

On the face of it, there is nothing particularly special about the Zylons – they do not have the X factor that Daleks, Cybermen and Sontarans boast, so presumably it was just easier for the DWADs to use them (as well as appealing to computer gamers of the 1980s). Although at first portrayed as carnivorous humanoids, the Zylons here are very different and are a mishmash of several sci fi genres (and in the computer game were just an unseen spaceship enemy). Their names not only recall the Zylons from the Star Raiders, but also the Cylons from Battlestar Galactica, not to mention the Zygons. Their insectoid behaviour and caste system are reminiscent of the xenomorphs from the Alien series and the creatures in Starship Troopers, while their unstoppable attack on the Federation and assimilation of outside technology recalls the Borg. Like the Tractactors, they are relatively harmless without their leader (who sounds like a Ferengi if anything). Only their use of humans for food rather than say hosts for their young or raw material makes them in any way individual. Though it is odd that an alien race who can drain the life force right out of their victims still waste time with laser rifles and grenades.

Target Zylon is a brief and to-the-point story, with a slender plot encompassing the end of the Star Cruiser plotline, the turning point for Mark’s character, and explaining it all to Dara, with the Doctor getting the lion’s share of the plot as he explores the breeding grounds of the alien menace with a cameo by the monster in charge of it all. The plot is neatly structured, with the mystery of missing crew explained as food resources for the next generations of Zylons, which in turn means the Zylon Empire is at its weakest. There is a neat plot twist in, after giving the humans the perfect weapon and the perfect opportunity to defeat their enemies, the Doctor discovers the short term success would bring long term disaster.

A few moments of coincidence crop up – the main offenders are Admiral Thrint contacting the Revelation just in time to confirm the Doctor’s identity so everyone will trust him right away; Dara’s hitherto unmentioned diamond necklace turning out to be exactly what is needed to repair the ship’s damaged engines; and Mark explaining that the Zylon King only needs to be destroyed to end the war mere hours before exactly that occurs. But the one glaring omission is that the Zylons’ interest in the Federation, after being flagged up in Mark’s opening speech, is never explained? Is it just the fact the Federation is an all-you-can-eat buffet and has plenty of technology? Or something else? Since there are at least two sequels on the drawing board, maybe this will be revealed in due course, since although the climax shows the Zylons losing the core of their empire, the war will still continue, even if it is a now forgone conclusion.

One last note, Target Zylon sees the debut of Chip Jamison, soon to be a regular in the DWADs and quite possibly the worse actor in it. His stilted, aggressive, eye rolling performance is used for every character he gets and is literally painful to the ears as he renders any possible scene a farce. Although tolerable here as one of the Star Fleet crew, he will soon dominate stories until it becomes almost impossible to listen to them, with Shadow of the Dragon being a notable nadir.

Personal Appreciation: ****
It’s kind of hard to appreciate the denouement to a saga you’ve never heard. So this is really good.

Character Stuff:

The Doctor’s still got the TARDIS manual, but has yet to find the time to actually read the **** thing. Once again, he’s very concerned about the “sacred” TARDIS’ welfare, insisting she not be referred to as a ‘ship’ and refusing to land in a rubbish heap. He calls Dara ‘an out of quadrant tourist’, when he’s not playing Twister with her, anyway. McCormick thinks that the Doctor looks about 50, but the Doctor says he’s over 900 years old. He still needs a homing beacon to locate the time machine and loves cotton candy. He is disgusted at the use of an anti-matter bomb, not only for its destructive capacity, but also the fear it would cause an arms race amongst the races of the galaxy (so he’s looking at the REALLY big picture) and, amazingly, implies he has a creationist viewpoint. He has a "smoke pot" in his pocket, a double headed coin, bubblegum wrappers. He claims (jokingly?) he played truant the day the Prydonian Academy had classes on photon torpedoes. He tries to avoid saying goodbye to Mark, showing traditional Doctorish shyness. He stayed in Totter’s Lane for a while, so he’s definitely a future Doctor this week.

Mark Tryiad was conscripted straight onto a Star Cruiser the moment he left the Star Fleet Academy, to help fight the Zylons. His original time zone was 2367, and according to Dara, he insults the Doctor every chance he gets (so, Dara’s as reliable as ever when reporting the truth). He gives up trying to look after Dara after she demonstrates such suicidal insanity. He would be willing to shoot the Doctor dead, (though he wouldn’t be happy about it) and also commit suicide for the greater good. He finally accepts the Doctor’s arguments after the Time Lord leaves Mark alone to make the decision, rather than bullying him (another improvement on the last incarnation). He admits he’s worried he would not cope with peace time and might start battles to justify himself, and rejoins the TARDIS ostensibly to adjust, though it’s clear because he no longer has anywhere else to go.

The story opens with Dara having the decency to shut up and listen to Mark’s explanation of the world he comes from. Dara’s experience with human warfare has obviously not stuck in her brain, as she’s not in the slightest scared be in the middle of a warzone fighting monsters tougher than a hundred planet’s worth of combined military might, and that when the experienced warfare commander Mark says she’s not going to be useful, she doesn’t believe him for a second. She is not the slightest fussed when her childishness gets an ensign badly injured, and is dumb enough to play with laser guns without knowing what she’s doing (it’s not a life or death situation, he’s just playing with them for fun, so it’s gut churningly reckless). Her father gave her a three hundred pound plus diamond necklace for her ‘sixteenth’ birthday (she’s probably lying about her age), but she’s quite happy to use it for scrap without a second thought. In a surprising moment in part four, she uses logical deduction to help sort out a problem, probably the first useful thing she’s done in the entire time she’s been in the series. She still thinks that the end of thirty years of interplanetary war and the emotional redemption of Mark counts as ‘boring’ unless she has something to do, and doesn’t react in the slightest to either Mark’s departure or return, the selfish *****. The Doctor notes he prefers her when she shuts up and leaves him alone, so surely SOMEONE involved in this show has realized how unlikable their “wonderful” companion is.

Observations:

Hmmm. The episode starts with a lecture from Mark about Zylons. I wonder if this could be relevant to the plot of the rest of the story?

Why doesn’t Mark ask the Doctor to head back five years right away? Is he desperate to find out if the war’s over? If it WAS over, what would he have done? Kept travelling with the Doctor? Tried to go back to 67? Stayed where he was?

Shouldn’t that raging fire on the star base be a bit more worrying to everyone?

Hey, look at those far out guns!” ***** ******, DARA, ARE YOU INSANE?!?

The Doctor trying to hug the Captain he hasn’t met before, just to break the ice... full fist.

Is that... Jeff Coburn... with a Russian accent... pretending to be Chekov? And playing the ship’s Doctor as well. What the **** are they thinking?!

They still call women in the military ‘sir’ four hundred years in the future?

A planet called Insidious? How fascinating! They named the planet after the stealth and subtlety of an invasion force that wouldn’t arrive on the planet for hundreds of years! I mean, Aridius, Marinus, they got nothing on THIS ridiculously appropriate planet name. You can only wonder if Earth is referred to as Beggingtobeinvadedbyaliens by other space-faring civilizations...

I’m reading great mass!” Well, you shoulda stayed in the priesthood, Chekov, you’re wasted here.

A storm cloud turns out to be an alien battlefleet? What were the odds?

If a quarter of the ship’s crew is wiped out in six seconds when they’re NOT in battle, how the **** do the rest survive a full on dogfight?

Very trippy, spooky music during the scene on the base, and later with Flint. VERY trippy. They should have used it more often than say, Ghost Light...

Big respect to the quiet “You know I can’t do that, Alexei,” scene...

He never takes us anywhere!” Uh, Dara, you’ve been to two different planets, Russia, America, and now the depths of space in the 24th century. But heading to the heart of a carnivorous alien empire on a stealth mission is obviously much better... GROW UP!!

KAM-MEEL-LEE-ON! Not SHAM-EEL-I-ON!! ***, one fluff from Tom Baker and the whole world goes crazy... do they say “chitinous” or “Galafree”? No? Why not?!

There’s irony for you – if Dara hadn’t been so childish and allowed herself to go to the sickbay, her ensign escort wouldn’t have been in perfect health, so they wouldn’t have had to drag his bleeding body there...

Hah! The Doctor whistling Colonel Bogey as he wanders around in the middle of a giant insect hive straight out of Aliens... my childhood hero is back.

Damning testimony when the lift out-acts half the cast.

What is that?” Uh, since the huge insect has just been referred to as ‘your majesty’ and you’re on the one planet where insect kings and queens are likely to be, I think that just maybe the answer has already been provided. How did this subpar idiot get his pips, anyway? Was there a shortage that year?

Those little squeaks of the Zylons are really nauseating... though not quite as horrific as the chirruping of Psirens in Red Dwarf.

Dara’s over sixteen?! How immature can one shallow ***** be?! I always assumed she was going to a difficult period around fourteen, but it turns out she’s nearly twenty! Is she just lying about her age to impress Mark, as she seems to want to... no. Don’t go there. There lies vomit. Avoid. Anyway, I suppose I should be impressed at Dara selflessly sacrificing the necklace to save others, but it strikes me as not giving a ****about the small fortune her father paid to make her smile on her birthday... I guess there’s no pleasing me on some days. If you happen to be called Dara and act like a total twit, anyway...

So there is a whole Missing Adventure range for the taking as the Doctor travels to seaside resorts and has lots of fun while Captain McCormick screams abuse at him and demands he take them back to the Zylon War? Man, I just love this incarnation!

On the other hand, isn’t “God created the universe in six days” the most unDoctorish thing you’ve ever heard? Or that an ounce of Anti-Matter can do so little damage...

All these military officers swear so much!

I’ve got a girl back home. I think I’ll marry her!” SHUT THE **** UP!

Hah! Only Dara could be impressed by Bubblegum Buddhism 101...

Preposterous Plot Points:

The translation scene at the end of part three. The big bad King of the Zylons, in perfect English, asks McCormick to switch on the translator and he does. So, they both understand each other without the bloody tricorder translating. And if this is down to the TARDIS, why switch on the translator at all? I mean, it’s not like it’s important to the plot either way!

Dara is beyond belief in this story, particularly her necklace just happening to be made of Dilithium crystals... which are, if my rudimentary understanding of Star Trek doesn’t fail me, generally bright green in colour. Are diamonds bright green? A clue: no.

If they can beam Mark into the torpedo bay to capture the Doctor... why didn’t they just beam the Doctor out in the first place?

Notable Dialogue:

Zylon” gets used a fair bit in the dialogue, but not “target”, so no gratuitous title use this time.

A surprisingly ominous scene in the TARDIS...
McCORMICK: I know of at least a hundred Star Fleet scientists who’d sell their souls for ten centons on this ship!
DOCTOR: (QUIET) Hm. Nothing’s worth that. Believe me.

DOCTOR: Quick! Hand me that book over there!
DARA: Type 40 Time Capsule Owner’s Manual? Doctor, I think you should have read this beforehand!
DOCTOR: I kept meaning to, but it’s just hard to find the time! “Chapter One: So, You Want To Travel In Time?

The Doctor speaks for the entire audience when Dara starts ********:
DARA: Doctor, I don’t suppose next time we could go somewhere I actually get to do something?
DOCTOR: (INCREDULOUS) What?!
DARA: Well, the future’s nice and all, but boring, really. All I did was sit around, nothing to do.
DOCTOR: I know. Quietest you’ve ever been. Rather nice, really.

The Doctor treats this story with all the respect a Star Trek crossover deserves...

DOCTOR: (TO REDSHIRTS) Let go of me, your hands are cold!

McCORMICK: WHEN were you planning on telling us this?
DOCTOR: Please! I do have a lot on my mind! I can’t be expected to remember every little detail...
MARK: And yet you can recite The Lion King word for word.
DOCTOR: (DEFENSIVE) I like Simba.

McCORMICK: I see you have a transporter pad too, Doctor!
DOCTOR: Oh, that? That’s just a game Dara and I were playing.
McCORMICK: “Twister”?
DOCTOR: Yes! Quite fun – would you like to have a try?

DOCTOR: Which would you prefer, Alan? That we flittered forward in time, so they know we’re here but probably have given up looking for us? Or been taken backward, so they don’t know about us yet but will, probably when we least expect it?

McCORMICK: What was that?
DOCTOR: What? Oh sorry, I didn’t have breakfast.

-on the run from every Zylon on the planet
McCORMICK: I wish you’d listen for a change!
DOCTOR: So, I’ve got a cat’s curiosity...

McCORMICK: I think we’re part of the menu.
DOCTOR: WHAT?! ...Now, I must protest! The Androgum Guide to Fine Dining requires Time Lords to be cured for twenty-one days before serving... Do you want the King’s dinner bruised?!

DARA: The Captain looks in a terrible mood. What happened?
DOCTOR: Oh, er... don’t know, really.
DARA: (AS IF TO A CHILD) What are you hiding?
DOCTOR: Nothing.
DARA: Let me see. Huh? Cotton candy? Where did you get that?
DOCTOR: Coney Island. (BEAT) So we got a little lost in the vortex! I figured, so long as we were there...

...until it gets serious.
DOCTOR: Anti-Matter Bombs are outlawed by every treaty in the seventy-seven galaxies! That is too much power for ANYONE to have!
DARA: But, Doctor, if it will mean the end of the war...
DOCTOR: You don’t understand the consequences, Dara! One ounce of Anti-Matter can render a planet lifeless, rip away its atmosphere, put a hole in the surface fifty miles wide – now think! What would happen if bombs like that became conventional? Hmm? Civilizations made extinct in the blink of an eye! God created the universe in six days but we can top that! We can eliminate it in six SECONDS!
McCORMICK: You’re overreacting.
DOCTOR: The only thing that keeps people from using weapons like that is fear of what it can do, but history shows that once you open that Pandora’s Box, it’s only a matter of time before its power infects and spreads! You may have the intelligence to build one, Captain, but you don’t yet have the wisdom to use it?
McCORMICK: This will mean an end to a war that has cost billions of lives!
DOCTOR: And who’s to say it won’t start ten others because the Klingons fear that you’ll use the weapon on them? Or because the Cardassians covet the power it can bring? The backlash will extend far into the future, Captain!

Lines like this is why I’m not heartbroken that there won’t be more stories set in this saga...
JOHNSON: Those blasted Zylons are very persistent.

SHIPMAN: Let em come! I’ve got a sonic grenade just ACHING to make Zylon jello!

JOHNSON: Gah! I can’t believe we’re sitting on a million mergs of energy and can’t light a match cause we’ve got nothing to regulate the flow!

McCORMICK: (FIRING PHASERS) Take that! And that! Two down! Oh no you don’t! Full power!

JOHNSON: Mr. Triyad, we need power now! I’ll take ANYTHING you can give me! BLAST IT, COMMANDER, I DON’T CARE WHAT IT TAKES! Wine it, dine it, marry it if you have to, JUST GET THAT REGULATOR ON LINE!

McCORMICK: Blast it, Doctor, I’ll have you exiled to the deepest penal mine...

Dara? Shut. The. ****. Up.
DARA: Oh now where am I? Well, they could at least make these corridors a little distinctive from one another... Oh, I’m never going to find Mark! OK, Dara, think. I know I’ve been here before cause I’ve passed by this door a million times already. Oh, well, that’s better. Maybe this elevator will get me somewhere? Now, how did Ensign Palmer work it? Talking elevators. What will they think of next?

I think the Doctor’s just taking the snooty bint down a peg than trying to keep the timelines safe...
DARA: This is so cool! Wait until I tell Michelle I’ve been on a spaceship!
DOCTOR: Dara, this is the future – what you see must be your secret.
DARA: What?!
DOCTOR: You can’t go around telling people what the future is like, you could end up changing history.
DARA: You mean I get to do what mere mortals only dream of doing and I can’t tell anyone?
DOCTOR: For the sake of the future, I’m afraid so.
DARA: You really know how to take the fun out of time travel, don’t you, Doctor?
DOCTOR: Look at it this way: if you DID go around, blathering about the future, would they really believe you?
DARA: Hmmm.
DOCTOR: Probably end up on the pages of The Sun, or something...
DARA: I get your point.
DOCTOR: Cheer up. Have a jelly baby.
DARA: It’s NOT THE SAME!!!

DOCTOR: Mark, you of all people here know what kind of consequences can result if I don’t stop this.
MARK: I have a duty.
DOCTOR: You have a “duty” to ALL people! If these Anti-Matter Bombs explode, they could wipe out the very Federation you’re trying to protect!
MARK: I can’t play “what ifs?”. They WILL end the war, it’s what we’ve been fighting for all this time. I can’t jeopardize the lives of a hundred planets on the basis of something that MIGHT happen. This is our ONLY chance.
DOCTOR: I’ve got to stop you, Mark.
MARK: Those creatures wouldn’t hesitate for a micron to do the same thing to us.
DOCTOR: That doesn’t justify the risk you’d be forcing innocent people to take. Worlds beyond the Federation, galaxies... your decision could effect them too –
MARK: BLAST IT, DOCTOR! FOR ONCE, CAN’T YOU JUST ADMIT YOU COULD BE WRONG?!?
DOCTOR: What if I’m right?
MARK: ... They’ll shoot us for this.
DOCTOR: Nah, they’d only stick you in a penal colony for the rest of your life. They’ll shoot ME...
MARK: Heh. All right, Doctor. Do what you have to.

Cliffhangers:

  1. No sooner have the Doctor, Mark and Dara been accepted by the crew of the Revelation when suddenly an energy wave smashes into the ship. The dignified professional Star Cruiser crew have panic attacks and start screaming they’re all about to die.
  2. A time ripple strikes the Doctor and McCormick, shoving them into a time zone when they are surrounded by far-from-happy Zylon warriors. “Intruders! Prepare to die!” one of the insects rasps over the ridiculously melodramatic incidental music and finally the episode ends.
  3. The Doctor and McCormick are once again surrounded by far-from-happy Zylon warriors and a giant Zylon creature that, after pointlessly having McCormick’s universal translator switched on, introduces itself as Vishock, King of the Zylons and all-round Big Bad.
  4. As the TARDIS takes off, Dara compliments the Doctor on his philosophical musings... before the Time Lord admits he was just quoting the back of a bubblegum wrapper he read once. “Why doesn’t that surprise me?” Mark groans.

Miscellaneous:

Two more stories in the saga are apparently on the drawing board for the Last Doctor’s (James K Flynn) third and fourth seasons – Menace of the Zylons and Legacy of the Zylons. Whether they will ultimately rock the fan community to the same level of The Timelords of Gallifrey (sic), Edge of Destruction or even, dear God help us, Empire of the Bandrils, remains to be seen.

What Could Have Been Done To Improve It:

- Lose the Star Trek bollocks. It impressed no one.

- Leave Dara in the TARDIS, as karma for The Price of Paradise.

- Not rehire Chip Jamison ever again. In fact, edit him out of this to be on the safe side.

The Party Line:

What appears to be the end of the Star Cruiser story line is handled quite well. We see some interesting characterisation for Mark Triyad: an old, tired warrior. Something quite different from what we’ve been treated to up until now. It was actually somewhat surprising that he elected to stay on with the Doctor instead of returning to (almost) his own time. The story has a good pace to it when you get past the first episode and is good fun for those who like space battle epics. Quite a feat for an audio-drama.

The Awful Truth:

Despite being a season finale epic, tying up a long-running plotline, Target Zylon is easy to follow and (once you choke through the Star Trek references) an enjoyable space saga, with the Doctor steadfastly refusing to take any of it seriously, so the denouement has some real power, especially as Mark chooses between his old life and his current one. The best story from Coburn’s first season.


Last updated: Monday, March 17, 2008