For much of his time aboard the TARDIS during the TV series, apart from his debut in Doctor Who - The Black Guardian Trilogy: Mawdryn Undead / Terminus / Enlightenment [DVD
] and his swansong in "Planet of Fire" (available in Doctor Who - Kamelion Tales Box Set: The King's Demons / Planet Of Fire [DVD
]), the intriguing character of Vislor Turlough was woefully overused. This audio drama at last seeks to develop him further... but how do you delve into the background of a character whose secret origins were not disclosed until his final adventure?
Writer Stephen Cole solves the problem in such an ingenious way that I didn't even register how circuitous a route he was taking through "Doctor Who" continuity until a line of dialogue towards the end of the play made me realise: "Hey, that actually fits in really well with 'Planet of Fire'!" Unlike the "Star Wars" prequels, "Kiss of Death" doesn't undermine the impact of the revelations made in the "sequel" that has gone before.
At first, there seems to be little or no mystery surrounding the honey-trap scheme that sees Turlough (Mark Strickson) getting kidnapped, though the fact that the TARDIS is grounded on the holiday planet Vektris undergoing repairs means that we get a nice bit of space-opera action as the Doctor (Peter Davison), Tegan (Janet Fielding) and Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) have to "borrow" a spaceship in order to mount a rescue. However, the simple set-up is just as well in view of the complications and plot strands that arise, which include a monstrous subterranean security system called the Morass (John Banks). What with the Tractators and now the Morass, those Trions don't have much luck with underground monsters, do they?
The biggest problem with this production is (not for the first time) an incomprehensible voice. It is very difficult to tell what the Morass is supposed to be saying. Fortunately, the Doctor and Nyssa reiterate most of the salient points.
Each of the TARDIS crew gets something substantial or memorable to do in this story, including some agonising jeopardy for the Doctor and a delightfully sarky line about Enid Blyton from Tegan. However, the real star of the show is Strickson as Turlough - and about time too!