Closing the Lost Stories range is the only viable option for a Third Doctor Lost Story. The Mega had enough material to be adapted and enough of the original cast happens to still be living, so regardless of quality it had to be produced. It was written originally by Bill Strutton, but unlike The Web Planet, provides commentary on the then escalating Cold War as it involves aliens who wish to see the western world disarm, the governments disbanded, and the Prince Cassie of Austria put in charge of the world until it can be totally united. It’s a really good piece of political commentary shrouded in a six episode traditional Third Doctor story with UNIT, a peace conference, an alien menace who disguises itself as wanting to help, and plenty of gadgets for the Doctor to enjoy. Even the Master turns out to be behind the menace even if the tragic passing of Roger Delgado makes it impossible for him to appear outside of getting a few mentions in the story. It’s really just a fun story and a good look at the political climate of the past, the Jon Pertwee era of the show, and nothing more.
Like many Jon Pertwee stories the latter half of the story does drag on to a spectacular finale, but that barely takes away from a lot of philosophical discussion the story goes for. The Doctor of course is on the side of the Mega, played by the wonderful Derek Carlyle in the fact that he wishes to avoid war, but their methods of killing those who oppose them is something that he opposes. Carlyle plays the Mega as a hive mind, but also gives them their own individual personalities that can be distinguished in very subtle ways. This makes the tone of the story feel similar to that of a spy movie as the Doctor flees to Austria and almost double-crosses UNIT, before being revealed to be a clever trick to get Prince Cassie to trust him and Jo. The Doctor is played as James Bond in this story and it is a part that really only works for the Third Doctor. The story may be rough but Strutton and Guerrier understand how to write for this incarnation of the Doctor. The six part story is very easy to listen to as the characterization of everyone is strong. Katy Manning takes the job of playing Jo Grant and the Doctor. Now Manning is a brilliant actress, almost too good for 1970s Doctor Who, and that allows her to recapture the magic of Jo. Through Manning’s narration and performance you get lost in the era and her Jon Pertwee is interesting. Now it is obviously an impersonation, but as Manning has deep admiration for her former costar and worked with him for three whole years, she’s got his mannerisms down pat. It doesn’t sound like Pertwee, it feels like a performance Pertwee would be giving. The interviews at the end of the story offer some great insight into the decisions Katy Manning made in performing this story which helps with the ambiance.
Richard Franklin has the more difficult job as he is playing three characters. Sadly he is the weaker link in the story as while his Mike Yates and Brigadier Lethebridge-Stewart are both great, his imitation of John Levene as Benton really is quite a bad imitation. It might be because of John Levene’s meek and stern performances as the Sergeant, but there isn’t really something that is able to be replicated in the audio drama. Franklin however is giving it his all in this story as he has to play through just as many, if not more emotional scenes as Katy Manning has to perform. Bo Poraj also plays quite a few characters, ranging from the villain Prince Cassie, a man going down the road to hell paved with good intentions, to the moustache twirling General Wiley, and even the murdered Prime Minister who all have distinct voices and personalities. Poraj is a great performer in this story and almost tops the likes of Katy Manning.
To summarize, The Mega is a fitting end to the Lost Stories range. While it goes back to the style of the Companion Chronicles instead of the incumbent Early Adventures, Katy Manning and Richard Franklin are great in their roles and the two actors brought in for the supporting cast are great as well. The biggest flaw is the pacing which makes Episode Four, Five, and Six extremely difficult to get through with some great scenes to bring me back into a listening mode. 80/100