The Tardis lands on board what is effectively the USS Palomino, a nearly abandoned space station orbiting just outside the range of a black hole.
But there’s no Maximillian this time around, just a pleasant service robot named Hargreaves who actually turns out to be a shipboard AI inhabiting multiple such robots and functions throughout the ship Aquitaine.
When Nyssa gets scratched by an innocuous seeming plant, she vanishes…and The Doctor and Tegan discover that Hargreaves is caught in an endless reset loop, refreshing and rebooting in perpetuity.
Where has Nyssa gone? Who is the strange botanical scientist Dr. Sergei Akunin? And what is the secret of the Aquitaine?
Another return to the classic mystery in space tropes that generally work so well in science fiction and Who in particular, Aquitaine manages to nonetheless feel a bit of a tired retread of a setup (or combination of setups) utilized many times over, but to lesser effect.
While it sounds pretty good on paper – where did the crew go? What’s the deal with these plants? And what’s wrong with Hargreaves? – in practice, it’s a bit overlong and not as exciting or revelatory as one might expect.
Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton and Janet Fielding deliver their usual level of performance, and there is enough atmosphere and oddness to be found herein to give this one a reasonable rating, but it felt a bit light and insubstantial somehow.
I think in a shorter form audio – perhaps a two parter, akin to the Fourth Doctor Adventures – this would have been a pretty good analogue to, say, Cobwebs (an earlier Big Finish offering from essentially the same team of actors).
Not bad, really – certainly has most of the proper elements in place. But doesn’t quite get the cigar.