Story 33½ … yeah, it’s a real thing. Big Finish released a bonus disk: The Maltese Penguin for those who subscribed to the monthy range, which I had for a long while, until it became a bit too costly. I think I’ll be going back to it soon though. But this story is a welcome break after the tension that was McGann’s last tour de force with Neverland. This story is a bit more comedic featuring Robert Jezek, reprising his role as Frobisher, the shape changing companion of the Doctor.
Now, for The Holy Terror, I confess Frobisher’s voice bothered me. I guess I got used to it, because Jezek does a great job capturing the feeling of a 1930’s NY private eye. Well, I say he did; that doesn’t make it right. I wasn’t alive back then, contrary to what some of my coworkers think. But then I need to give credit to Big Finish too, who did a great job capturing the film noir style music. Everything about this episode feels like it was filmed in the 1930’s which is damned impressive. Colin Baker stops by basically begging Frobisher to travel with him, which is perhaps the only downside to the story; it seems very un-Doctor-ly. But, as the story is told largely from Frobisher’s perspective, that could just be the way he interprets events. Which is to say, not accurately.
Then we get the main villain, Josiah W. Dogbolter. I would collect the Doctor Who magazine when I was younger and I imagine I had read one or two of the comics, because I remembered this guy perfectly. That could have a lot to do with the fact that I also grew up on a cartoon called Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse. They had a main baddy they were always fighting too: The Frog, who spoke with a cigar in his mouth, see? Now, Dogbolter is a bit more posh; he’s British after all, but he’s still the same character, as far as I can tell. Probably cousins. Oh and he wears a regular necktie, not a bow tie. Taste, you know!
There’s a tremenous amount of fun to be had with this short journey; it’s just over an hour long. Colin Baker plays the role of Frobisher as the Doctor which adds an extra sense of fun. Hearing Baker pretending to be a 1930’s detective in the guise of the Doctor is hilarious. Especially when some things come out sounding horrendous! Someone at Big Finish was having a laugh at NY, I think. It’s ok. I’m from there and I make fun of the sound, so I’d expect nothing less.
Considering this is written by Rob Shearman, who brought us Dalek during Chris Eccleston’s run as the Doctor, you can expect quality. It’s not a typical story, it is short, but it’s funny and has a happy ending for Frobisher too. Though I still have a hard time understanding how taking the form of a penguin is, in any way, sensible! How can he hold anything? Oh, just go with it… it’s too much fun not to. ML
PS: here’s a look at the character I grew up with, alongside the one from the Doctor’s universe. Can you tell them apart? (Well, of course you can, the picture of Dogbolter is at the top of this page, but that’s missing the point, see?!)