Review – Doctor Who: The Holy Terror

Big Finish Audio “quick review”

Summary: The TARDIS lands in a forbidding castle in a time of religious upheaval. The old god has been overthrown, and all heretics are to be slaughtered. Obviously it isn’t the sort of thing which would happen there every day — just every few years or so. Soon after the Doctor and Frobisher are hailed as messengers from heaven, they become vital to opposing factions in their struggle for power. But will they be merely the acolytes of the new order — or will they be made gods themselves? Evil is growing deep within the crypt. And the pair soon find out that they will be lucky to escape their new immortality with their lives.

Before I listened to this audio adventure I had not really came across anything with the non-human companion Frobisher in it. This is a shame because he is such a fun character that I definitely want to hear more with him; I may even try to get a trade paperback of the comic strips that he originally came from. For those not familiar with the character, Frobisher is a shape shifting alien that insists on making himself look like a huge penguin and speak like he’s from a seedy New York back-alley. I’m all for more non-human companions, they definitely make the concept that much more interesting.

The Holy Terror is, for all purposes, a satire on how silly religious zealotry can get sometimes. As a spiritual person, this doesn’t appeal to me on the “ha ha look at religious people LOL” wavelength that many will most likely take the episode as, but more a glimpse into how fundamentalism is bad. The episode starts with the untimely death of a man named Pepin VI. In this land, Pepin VI is seen as a living God, and the simple act of his death means that he was not only a liar, but anyone that supported him should be imprisoned or killed. Pepin VII has no interest in being king at all, much less some sort of God-king. In fact he questions this very fact as he literally feels no different than he did before. Since he should feel like a god, this concerns him greatly. When the time comes for him to conjure up a miracle to satisfy the masses at his coronation a certain blue box appears…

What follows is an odd mixture of horror and humor, the likes I haven’t really come across in any Doctor Who media. On one hand we have grotesque situations like the appearances of characters like Amulf, a depressing take on the evil man-servant archetype, this one having had his tongue brutally removed to show servitude. On the other we have zany comical scenes such as Frobisher getting a statue dedicated to himself, a fact that sort of goes to his head. These two seemingly opposing story types meld somewhat well and lead this story to be one of my favorites of the whole line. Considering I’m not a huge fan of 1980’s Doctor Who, I really like Colin Baker’s work on Big Finish and feel that the direction those guys put forth really brings out characters that were once reviled by most. I mean, look at what they did to Mel!

The only real downside to this story is that it does contain a random M. Night Shyamalan-esque twist towards the end of the story once we know the true nature of the actual villain of the story. This revelation (that I will try not to spoil) flips the story upside down and makes characters switch around in importance. This is a bit jarring, but evidence of something like this happeneing was planet fairly early on in the story.

My Rating 5 out of 5

Doctor Who Random Thoughts (catch-up edition)

Yeah …. it has been literally months since I last posted on here. Truth is I have been trying my best to get a new job, a driver’s license, and keep up with the shenanigans at my current workplace, all this amongst other things. The last episode I looked at was “the Curse of the Black Spot” many ages ago, so instead of going back and forcing myself to write a bunch of blog posts about things that aired months ago, I figured I’d get myself all caught up in one fell-swoop.

First and foremost, I want to commend BBCA for finally pushing Doctor Who into (as close as one could imagine) the mainstream. Their advertising, toy sales, store tie-ins, and other promotions have taken my favorite show from some obscure basement dweller-esque obsession a more recognized nerdy past-time. It makes me crack up how popular the show has become today, and how easily the younger folks out there have latched onto it.

I remember ordering a nearly 20 foot long Tom Baker era scarf for the costume on my “about page” for a Halloween party a number of years ago. When I got to the party, literally one person, my wife (then girlfriend) knew what I was dressed as. There was a random dude we saw at Target that seemed pretty stoked I had the scarf and hat on but others dismissed the costume entirely as if I had made it up. Now one can see a multitude of Doctor Who costumes at conventions, even ones that have nothing to do with science fiction. We recently attended an Anime Convention in Kansas City where there was something like 3-4 Tenth Doctors running around, this fact made me very happy.

I think my own personal smugness with the fandom truly came into effect when my former boss gave me crap about my love for the show. This was not in a malicious way, but the product of a two party fun-poking competition where I pointed out how big Doctor Who was getting and made fun of Lost (his favorite show) and vice versa. My crowning achievement was setting up a display at the store with a generic sign that said “local favorites” comprised of Doctor Who books and DVDs we had been getting. This display was met with snickers from him until season 5 was released on DVD. Pretty soon I did take down my display, only to replace it with a huge professionally done display sent by corporate full of Matt Smith toys, daleks, books and more. Needless to say I didn’t hear any snide comments for a bit. I know, small victories and all….(LOL) You see I’m not one that wants “my show” to stay “underground” aka nobody has seen it. I’d like to share my fandom, and now I can.

So anyway, this week marks the middle of the second half of season six, and we are FINALLY getting some answers. Being a Moffat fan, the structure of this season does not bother me, but I can see a few folks chomping at the bit for resolutions for things a few seasons in the making. I do hope that this series arc concept isn’t repeated to such a degree in the future, as I actually enjoy episodes that stand on their own a bit more than ones that are a mere puzzle piece in the grand scheme of things. It’s hard to really rate such an episode because it could be utterly brilliant once you see what comes later. A return to a more “anthology” style suits the show better (in my opinion, of course). This season hasn’t been bad at all, in fact it has been great….it’s just been different as well. I will say that I preferred last season a bit compared to this one as a whole, but that could change if the next few episodes blow me away.

Now that we basically know who River Song is, and how she is related to The Doctor, Amy, and Rory, these last few episodes really need to flesh out the craziness in the Doctor’s apparent death. I still feel that the “death” we saw was staged for some reason, but knowing the way Moffat likes to mess with us it may not be that simple at all. I just hope that the whole thing gets wrapped up with a bow at the end, maybe introducing a huge foe for a while at the same time.