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Tegan reunites with the Doctor and faces the Cybermen
I enjoyed ‘The Gathering’, starring Peter Davison as the Doctor and Janet Fielding as Tegan!
It’s a great sequel to a fantastic story. It’s not as good as ‘The Reaping’, but I found this very enjoyable. It’s well constructed and brilliantly written by Joseph Lidster, who carries on from ‘The Reaping’ in this.
N.B: If you want to understand what’s going on in this story, listen to ‘The Reaping’ first. I know this is a Fifth Doctor story before the Sixth Doctor. But trust me! It is best if you hear ‘The Reaping’ first.
This is a 2 by 60 minute story on two discs (120 minutes in total), shorter than the previous story.
For me, the highlight of this story is the return of Janet Fielding as Tegan Jovanka. Janet vowed once that she would never return to ‘Doctor Who’. But since then she’s had a change of heart and has returned to play Tegan for her final meeting with the Doctor. It’s a great performance by Janet here.
As I mentioned in my review for ‘The Reaping’, I met Joe Lidster for the first time at the ‘Project Motor Mouth 2’ convention (run by Janet Fielding) in Slough, August 2013. I enjoyed chatting to Joe about ‘The Reaping’ and ‘The Gathering’. I’m pleased I was able to talk to him about the two stories.
‘The Gathering’ opens as before like ‘The Reaping’ with various news reports from various time periods overlapping with each other. The atmosphere is different though in this sequence, as the build up’s subtler and there isn’t any background music to add to the tense atmosphere for Tegan.
Again there’s a semi-prologue sequence where Tegan wakes up in the morning and gets a phone call from her mum. It’s been a long while since Tegan left the Doctor in ‘Resurrection of the Daleks’ and her life hasn’t been that easy. Tegan is now she’s 46 years old as it’s her birthday today in the story.
I found ‘The Gathering’ a rather convoluted story, especially with the first episode. I’ll try my best to explain the plot in this review. The Fifth Doctor visits the Gogglebox inside Earth’s moon. The Doctor learns of some energy spikes occurring in different time periods on Earth and decides to investigate.
The Doctor soon ends up in Brisbane in 2006 where he meets Dr Katherine Chambers (Peri’s best friend from ‘The Reaping’). He also reunites with Tegan Jovanka. Tegan is shocked and uncomfortable to see the Doctor again. He was the last person she expected to see on her birthday.
‘The Gathering’ resembles another new series story of ‘Doctor Who’ called ‘School Reunion’. In that story, Sarah Jane Smith reunited with the Tenth Doctor. The same principle applies to Tegan in this one, but it’s not a happy reunion as she knows the Doctor hasn’t come to wish her a happy birthday.
Janet Fielding finds her feet as Tegan in this adventure. I’ve first met Janet at ‘Project Motor Mouth 2’ in Slough, August 2013. It was a treasure to meet Janet. Tegan is still the rather bossy; bitchy person, but there’s a lot more substance to her as her life after travelling with the Doctor gets touched upon.
In this story, it was shock for me when it turns out that Tegan is dying from a brain tumour inside her head. I couldn’t help feel horrified by that. This story presents an interesting side to Tegan, as we find out how her life has become depressing since she left the Doctor and it’s rather sad to listen to.
Peter Davison is great as the Doctor in this adventure. I’ve also met Peter at ‘Doctor Who’ conventions. Peter’s Doctor gets concerned about the energy spikes that are happening on Earth and he wants to know more about them. He tries to get to Kathy Chambers who keeps avoiding him.
The Doctor shows concern for Tegan in this story and is disparaged when he finds her being nasty to someone and he gets her to sit down and talk to him about what’s going on. I loved how despite the Doctor’s being uneasy with Tegan, he’s able to show concern for her when she tells him she’s dying.
Jane Perry returns as Kathy Chambers from ‘The Reaping’ in this adventure. Kathy is now older and goes on a hard journey in this story. Kathy has moved to Brisbane and has this new pharmacy to help the sick. When she meets the Doctor again, memories from ‘The Reaping’ flood back and haunt her.
The guest cast also includes Janie Booth as Eve Morris, a secretary working at Kathy Chambers’ pharmacy. There’s also Richard Grieve as James Clarke, who work with Kathy at her pharmacy; and Dait Abuchi as Michael Tanaka, who was once Tegan’s boyfriend before she suddenly dumped him.
This seems to be a Cybermen story following ‘The Reaping’, but it hasn’t got any Cybermen in it. There is a partially-converted Cyberman who happens to be Kathy’s brother Nate and is kept within her pharmacy. Nate is paralysed and can’t speak clearly through his distorted electronic cyber voice.
‘Eight six eight seven’ from ‘The Reaping’ gets revealed here. It’s the name of a bar and is a word that Peter’s Doctor uses to tap into the ‘System’ at Kathy pharmacy so that he can remember her in his future. This idea isn’t well-executed. Colin Baker’s Doctor doesn’t remember Kathy in ‘The Reaping’.
The music and sound effects are quite fast, especially with the modern 2006 setting and the grimy atmosphere of Brisbane where Tegan’s home is. ‘The Gathering’ is a pacey story compared to ‘The Reaping’. The music and sound effects add to that quality of the summery atmosphere throughout.
By the time we come to the end of the story, the Doctor and Tegan manage to stop Kathy’s ambitious plans by blowing up her pharmacy with Nate inside. Tegan’s reconciles and reunites with Michael, as they’re now both back together. All seems well, apart from one person who has escaped.
Tegan gets to have one last farewell with the Doctor before he leaves in the TARDIS. She’s able to reconcile her differences with him. I really liked that sequence where the Doctor and Tegan make up. The ending is a great and is played by two good actors who know their characters inside and out.
The end credits music rolls on and it’s the end. But wait! It’s not. Phillip Olivier as Hex narrates over the end credits, as he talks about how he first met the Doctor. There’s a trailer for ‘The Harvest’, a story where Hex meets the Doctor and Ace and where certain things follow on from ‘The Gathering’.
The other CD extras are as follows. On Disc 1, there’s a trailer for ‘Memory Lane’ with Paul McGann; India Fisher and Conrad Westmaas. At the end of Disc 2, there are trailers for some Cybermen stories including ‘The Reaping’, ‘Spare Parts’ (one of my favourite audio stories) and ‘Sword of Orion’.
‘The Gathering’ is another great character-driven drama with the Fifth Doctor reuniting with an older Tegan. This story also has elements of a soap-opera drama thrown into it and is a great character piece for Tegan in how she deals with reuniting with the Doctor again and resolving her differences.
‘The Gathering’ rating – 9/10
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