REVIEW: Doctor Who: The Holy Terror (2001)

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

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