In my write-up for Minuet in Hell, I mentioned that Gideon Crane interrogated the eighth Doctor with 20 questions; one pertaining to when Peter Davison’s Doctor and Turlough encountered werewolves. I had so hoped that would become a real story… and it did, a month later. Now, I’m torn because I’m a sucker for a werewolf story (that would have been far funnier if I were saying that about Vampires) but this one is strange. It’s a really interesting story, with some great acting, but it’s not typical werewolf stuff. The setting of future Brazil was an odd choice, for one. But it was more than that!
First of all, Pieter Stubbe is a great villain. Nicky Henson plays Stubbe with a ferocity that is magnificent in a beast. He truly is a great enemy but why does everyone call him “Pieter Stubbe”. Fans of Sherlock Holmes may notice that many people refer to him as “Mr. Sherlock Holmes”. I know when Roger and I write to each other, we don’t address each other formally all the time (do we, Mr. Roger Pocock?) So why can’t people refer to him as Pieter? Or Stubbe? Ok, that’s a small complaint but it is very strange! Of greater concern was his size. (No, no, we’re coming to that… but for now, I mean the size of the wolf.) He carries Turlough around in his mouth? Like, news flash: that’s not a wolf! That’s a T-Rex. (Thankfully, he didn’t swallow Turlough but that was only because of the blade Turlough was carrying.)
Rosa Caiman makes a great companion and I really took to her, too. Played by Sarah Gale, she really becomes an interesting partner to hang out with Yerpie boy, Turlough. But once again, Big Finish hits us with an episode full of “how do we get a point across without monologue?” In Rosa’s case, she talks into a tape recorder to her dead “grampa”. This isn’t a bad thing and in some ways, “grampa” becomes a character on his own even though he remains unvoiced. Eleanor Bron is Ileana De Santos and she too makes a great character. She’s on par with those semi-bad guys that the Doctor teams up with. I actually really love this idea and the fact that the Doctor appreciates werewolves as a race unto themselves is an even better thing. And then there’s Kato. When I was a kid, I loved The Pink Panther movies and the moment I head Doctor Hayashi, I knew it was Burt Kwouk and I just love hearing him. He’s not funny in this, so there’s no shadow of Kato, but he’s just wonderful, even as a conniving baddie! What really made this great was the idea that he is trying to rid the world of the curse of lycanthropy but the Doctor is not comfortable with that. This idea that the Doctor is the one defending the “monsters” is a great piece of the story, even if there is one monster that does need to be defeated. (And we all need someone named “Herr Lichtfuss” because wow, is that not a fun name to say?!)
The cast is wonderful but the setting seems a weird choice for werewolves. And Doctor Who, normally a show that finds scientific (or pseudo-scientific) resolutions to things, relies too heavily on what is basically magic in this one, removing Pieter Stubbe (yeah, now I’m doing it now) from the Earth, which weakens him and leaves him defeated and gone… in the mind of Rosa Caiman? I’m not really sure. And Turlough falling from a train going at 200 miles an hour, probably wouldn’t walk away unscathed. What do I know, I’ve never fallen from a train! It’s a minor point, but I do think it was a little silly. They needed a way to pair Turlough up with Rosa, but this seemed like a weird way to do it. Still, it’s an interesting story that I’d like to see become an episode, or maybe have a follow up to it.
Oh, but back to Rosa and Turlough… I need to confess: the double entendre does not usually stand out to me, because I typically think people who interpret them are being crude. That’s the point though, right? The double entendre is typically when someone interprets a comment grossly out of context. People often go too far out of their way to interpret the comment in ways they were not intended, though. My understanding is that innuendo is intentional while the double entendre isn’t; people just exacerbate the meaning of an otherwise innocuous comment. But I have to say, this was the a double entendre that I could not overlook:
Rosa: “Jeez, so big!”
Turlough: “Well that shut her up!”
Well, I guess describing the TARDIS really is a mouthful. But I still think that line was bent out of shape. Frankly, that bit of dialogue sucks! Good dialogue can be a handful, sure, but someone should have spotted it! Ok, before I go totally off the reservation into the realm of innuendo and double entendre, I’ll stop there. I’m looking forward to where we go from here. This one had some really great cliffhangers and I can’t wait to see what the future holds. ML
I remember Nicky Henson from his role as Tom Latham in Psychomania. Having classic Doctor Who guest actors return for the Big Finish era like Eleanor Bron and Burt Kwouk is always very memorable. Thanks for your review, ML.
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