Almost all of Davison's stories have links the previous story and this one is no exception. All the TARDIS scenes with Tegan, Nyssa and the Doctor are well done, acted, and directed. And I must say they FINALLY got Nyssa's look and outfit so perfect, it's a pity she leaves so soon after this. Her new dress is so much better than her Traken outfit and also better than the horrorible thing she wore in SNAKEDANCE. She looks stunning in this story and the Doctor almost seems to notice (a small subplot that went missing in SNAKE DANCE was the Doc's ignoring Nyssa, note in SNAKE DANCE prt 4 or so, he helps her down and she coldly tell shim it was unnecessary.") Sheesh, was she deliberately trying to get him to notice her? That's how it looked. yet JNT wouldn't even let them hold hands (with Tegan too) in TIMEFLIGHT.
The interior of the alien spaceship looks grand and great and colorful, despite Tegan's protests (doesn't she always) but the exterior in this ep looks shoddy, almost like a cartoon and with no outside detail. The idea of this ship is an interesting one. I'm not sure about why the TARDIS couldn't leave at first but whatever, it set up the situation.
The location work is rather good too and Janet and Sutton are in top form here, as is Davison. And the Brig, played by Nick Courtney, can do no wrong in this (or in most things). He's splendid.
The big problem with this story is a huge one (well, aside from the sniveling BLACK GUARDIAN). It's Turlough. As the the Brig says, "You've got a rotten one there." I can see the idea behind him but...honestly how are we meant to like a "boy" who 1-doesn't look like a boy but like a married 30 year old and 2-in that hat he wears upon his entrance and who 3-deliberately steals a car, lies to his "friend" immediately and who 4-crashes a car nearly killing the other boy and himself (he even says, "I wish I had died"). I mean you get the idea. Nearly everything Turlough says in this, his first ep, is something designed to make us or rather me, hate him. He contemplates wanting to die, wanting to get off Earth (a sort of opposite to how Tegan was when she first joined--wanting to go to Earth), lies that the other boy was driving when the car crashed, lies to the boy that he told him it was he who drove, etc etc. He also totally gives himself over to the Black Guardian, just to get off Earth, not even to save his own life. He's a first class jerk and I hated him in this story and never really got over that.
The cliffhanger is pretty good but as Mark says, "There's never been a companion that set out to kill the Doctor at first before...." when in fact, Sara Kingdom did try to kill him at first but some don't count her as a companion. I also think Bret Vyron may have threatened to kill the Doctor, too.
In any event, Turlough and his friend's appearances are "graced" by some of the most horrid, fake "jolly (I want to refrain from saying "gay") music" ever heard. Odd that, because most of the rest of the score of this ep and the rest, if I recall correctly, is pretty good, better than most.
I also don't really buy the Brig as a school teacher to be honest and not in 1977 or in 1983 and he seemed a bit too into things to retire. Then again the entire UNIT dating thing is not for debate here but really, to have this story so mess it up further and get it so wrong, more or less, is annoying.
Originally the teacher was to be IAN CHESTERSON and then maybe HARRY SULLIVAN (Harry would make even less sense than the Brig) but neither actor was available. Ian would make the most sense. That said, I wonder why they didn't do something similar when Barbara could have been brought back in MEGLOS or even Ian there.
Not a great start to a story but not awful but then again if you only watch the Turlough stuff, THAT stuff IS awful. The boys behind Turlough and Ibbotson all look like school boys. Mark Strickson doesn't at all. This story has many parts and it would be nice to see how they all converge together...