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Reviewed by Peter Adamson


'Operate the blue switches!'

There are some good ideas here. Steven Gallagher's script is highly detailed, evoking an interesting background to the supporting cast, in particular Valgard and his cronies; the actual storyline is so novel that Eric Saward ripped it off for Slipback. Actually, the story itself could be 'Sawardian' in its bleakness, but despite this it succeeds in having an atmosphere all of its own and devoid of any gun-toting action. There are guns, but to Gallagher's credit they're hardly secondary to the action.

Much credit must go to Dick Coles' design. Here are white corridors where there are meant to be white ones, rusty walls where you'd imagine them to be, and the Vanir uniforms are great. To be fair there are some misses - Kari and Olvir's space pirate outfits could hardly be degraded with an eyepatch and a parrot, and the Garm is perhaps too ... cuddly, but on the whole it's good visual stuff. The body language is good too - note Olvir warming to Nyssa near the end, and thankfully this remains unexploited as Nyssa escapes the traditional 'wed 'em off and bid 'em goodbye' farewell. It has been noted that Nyssa's farewell seems a trifle tacked on - perhaps this is so, but it's an effective send-off nevertheless; an honestly hope-filled conclusion to a somewhat heavy scenario. To have her succumb to Lazar's Disease is a well-worn device, but her cure at the hands of serendipity (or gross negligence!) is novel, and I like it.

One of the best things about Terminus is that it's not so much a story about the TARDIS crew as a story about those they come into contact with. Olvir gets happy, Valgard gets promoted. Bor loses his short term memory, and Nyssa finds a purpose in life. After a good opening much less is made of Tegan and Turlough alas - especially given the story's critical placing. The Black Guardian is there, but only as a wrap-around (which does mean you can enjoy the story without needing to see its companions), and we can only assume that Turlough and Tegan decided to get along a bit more after they were stuck in the ducting for most of the story.

So a good story then, from a writer who could have been used a bit more in the series. Terminus will never be a 'feel good' story, or a bucket of laughs, but it's a worthy one with great characters and nice set pieces. Once famous for the non-event rumoured appearance of the Ice Warriors ... hmm ... anybody considered the pilot?

This item appeared in TSV 49 (November 1996).

Index nodes: Terminus