Frontios starts off seeming like it is going to be another dark story along the lines of Warriors of the Deep but it ends up being a more hopeful story than that.
The TARDIS crew finds themselves at the extreme end of time, an era that the Time Lords forbid people to travel to, around the planet Frontios. Residing on the planet is one of the last colonies of humanity. The Doctor is about to leave when a powerful force pulls the TARDIS to the planet.
Once there, they find a colony under siege. The humans landed on the planet 40 years ago when their ship failed along with most of their technology. They had ten years of peace before constant meteorite bombardments started happening. The colonists believe some alien force is softening them up for invasion. What they don’t know is that the real threat comes from below.
There is a lot to like here. For me I loved that this was a strong Turlough story, his best since Enlightenment. He has a lot of great moments throughout the four episodes. This story also proves that Turlough isn’t a coward. Early on the colonists are going to kill the Doctor by firing squad. Turlough grabs a hat rack and fends them off. Later he has no desire to go into the tunnels and confront the deadly Tractators but he does it anyway because the Doctor might need his help. He even tells Norna, after she says no one expects him to go down there that of course they don’t because he’s Turlough. He knows how the others view him.
He is also instrumental in stopping the villains since he knows about them. The Tractators were on his home planet and the memory of them has been passed down. Turlough literally breaks down when he discovers what they are up against.
The build up to the Tractators is done quite well. We learn that colonists have been disappearing and see some of them get sucked down into the earth. There are ominous warnings about how Frontios buries it own dead and how the earth is hungry, and finally there is Turlogh’s mental break down.
That simply means that when we finally do see the Tractators it is a bit of a letdown. Their costumes aren’t as bad as the Myrka but they leave a lot to be desired. They are big and bulky and the actors can only slowly shuffle around.
It really is too bad because I think they could have been really good monsters. They literally suck people into the ground and then plug them into drilling machines like batteries. They are a good concept that just isn’t executed as well as possible.
I also like the quiet desperation that permeates the colony. They are living an extremely harsh life with virtually no technology, a dwindling population, and an ever decreasing cache of supplies. The colony is basically an authoritarian regime but it almost has to be to keep any semblance of law and order.
The story also slowly reveals the mysteries so there is always something going on. The sense of dread is also increased when the TARDIS is destroyed. It is actually destroyed, with parts scattered across the underground. The Doctor is only able to repair it by tricking the Gravis (the leader of the Tractaors) into using his powerful gravity weapons to rebuild the time machine.
The main trio all get good screen time. Turlough obviously has a lot to do but Tegan isn’t just shoved to the sidelines like what usually happens when one companion gets more of the focus.
There are some good comedic bits in here as well. Turlough using the hat rack like a weapon or at the end when the Doctor, Tegan, and Turlough tell the happy colonists to really not mention their involvement since it would get them in trouble with the Time Lords.
Frontios isn’t perfect and I wouldn’t call it a classic story but it is entertaining and does more right than wrong. Plus it finally uses Turlough and gives him a meaty role instead of just locking him up and forgetting about him.
Edited by Virgil Vox, 10 November 2019 - 08:20 PM.