Doctor Who: Loups Garoux

Loups-Garoux-doctor-whobig-finish

Synopsis

Brazil, 2080: The Doctor and Turlough arrive for the Rio de Janeiro carnival.
Is wealthy heiress Ileana de Santos all that she seems? What sinister ailment afflicts her invalid son, tended by the mysterious Dr Hayashi? And who exactly is Rosa, engaged on a secret quest to fulfil the destiny of her extinct tribe?
Time is running out for Rosa, Ileana and the Doctor, as the fearsome shadow of an ancient werewolf moves ever closer…

Written By: Marc Platt
Directed By: Nicholas Pegg

I’m just going to start this off by saying that I was not a huge fan of Marc Platt going into this audio drama based entirely on his earlier contributions to Doctor Who, a TV episode called Ghost Light and a book called Lungbarrow. In fact, I would rather watch the terrible charity episode Dimensions in Time than sit through Ghost Light again. Thankfully, Platt seems to be on his A-game in Big Finish as I thought Loups Garoux was quite enjoyable. This is surprising as I think that Davison has got the worst scripts of all the Doctors (up to this point); a problem that seems to be sorted out.

First thing first, Turlough is awesome and I was pretty excited to hear Mark Strickson reprise the role in this drama. This isn’t just a guest role either; Turlough is up in the forefront of this whole play. As listeners, we get a glimpse at his mysterious darker nature, a fact that he has hidden from the Doctor and the other companions. He gets separated from the Doctor at one point (as with many Doctor Who stories), and takes center stage for a bit, even getting his own temporary companion in the mix. We also see a bit of a reluctant romance for not only Turlough, but the Doctor as well (Gasp!). This added romance is surprising for those familiar with Platt’s writing as Platt himself created the ridiculous “The Doctor is Asexual and Timelords are born in looms” garbage found in Lungbarrow, a piece of novelized fanwank that many fans cling to despite countless contradictory pieces throughout the show.

The rest of the actors are pretty solid as well, especially Emily Bron as Ileana. She plays the matriarchal leader of a group of old-world werewolves clinging to a hidden existence in the future. Despite a few wonky stereotypical accents, there really was nobody to single out as the weak link of the production. Everyone had their part, and everyone was important here. Even the Fifth Doctor, who did very little in his past few plays, was on top form here both in Peter Davison’s acting and the storyline itself.

The actual story is a solid plus from me as well, as it delves into the topic of werewolves without zany Hollywood movie hijinks. The creatures are treated in a manner that I’m not used to, and I really liked it. Basically these wolf creatures live among us, but use an ability to stay hidden from our eyes. While this isn’t exactly talked about at length, it’s sufficient to explain why we don’t have huge wolves walking around all the time. Of course the wolves can also take a human form, something that sickens a few of them to their core. This shape shifting is more-or-less the basis for the main plot. You see, Ileana has a son that can’t turn to a human appearance. She wants her son to be able to walk amongst the “cut-claws”, but he has a feral monstrous disposition and appearance. Oh and there is an ancient demonic former ex-lover of hers out there trying to kill the other wolves!

I guess I gained a new-found respect for Marc Platt, a writer who I was not too enamored with in the past. I’ve actually listened to one more of his Big Finish plays that I enjoyed, but that’s a review for another day. In closing, if you want a solid Peter Davison title to start out with in Big Finish, you could probably pass on the ones before this, as Loups Garoux is definitely a new benchmark for this Doctor.

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Review – Doctor Who: Phantasmagoria

All in all Phantasmagoria is better than the Sirens of Time simply by having a better less convoluted narrative, but still suffers by being early in the run.

Big Finish Audio “Quick Review”

Let me get one thing straight before going into this audio drama review: on a whole I am not a huge fan of most 1980’s Doctor Who stories when stacked up to anything else.  I buy the DVDs, watch all of the stories, and read the comics, but I prefer the modern way the show is told, or just about anything before John Nathan Turner took the show over.  Not that I don’t like the actors that played the Doctor during this time, I just find the show a tad “hit or miss” in the decade of excess.  The audio plays, as a whole, have helped me really appreciate those actors that I may have never given much of a chance to.  This can be attributed to both maturity of the actors, and let’s face it, solid production quality.  I went into Phantasmagoria assuming that I would not like it due to it starring Peter Davison, and was greatly surprised to find a well acted, well written, if somewhat goofy episode.

I had heard of Phantasmagoria long before I actually listened to the production, as it was written by mark Gatiss, and was supposedly the template for his 2005 televised episode The Unquiet Dead.  I’m not sure where folks keep dragging that up, as the two stories have nothing in common save the period setting.  The play stars the Fifth Doctor and Turlough as played by Peter Davison and Mark Strickson respectively.  Aside from the usual cast of Big Finish Players, I did notice cameos from Mark Gatiss and David Williams, who later went on the create the super popular show Little Britain is side roles, so that was fun playing “spot the person whose voice I know”.

The Story involves The Doctor’s arrival in London of 1702, a time of highwaymen and strange disappearances.  When folks start to turn up dead clutching playing cards, a local occultist seems to think that spirits are on the loose, but the doctor thinks differently.

Being early in the Big Finish run, I would like to cut this play some slack due to its early release (being the second one made), but I can honestly say that for all the good in this episode, there was unfortunately some bad as well.  The one thing I really picked up on was that a few of the actors took to their roles a bit too much, if you get my drift and came across a bit too campy for my taste.  This would be commonplace for the TV show at the time, but audio dramas are a bit different.

All in all Phantasmagoria is better than the Sirens of Time simply by having a better, less convoluted narrative, but still suffers by being early in the run.  The acting, sound effects, and story are pretty solid, but the play suffers from a few over-actors, and a bit of storyline padding.  Big Finish is just hitting their stride, can’t wait to listen to the next one.

My Rating 3.25 out of 5