“The mystery of the missing library books? It seems absurd!”
Doctor Who, Sherlock Holmes, Bernice Summerfield and…Cthulhu?!?
That’s right, a true genre mashup, and unusually for this sort of thing, one which actually works, to some degree.
The Sylvester McCoy Doctor and Ace (Sophie Aldred), Bernice Summerfield (Lisa Bowerman) and Holmes and Watson (Nick Briggs and Richard Earl, respectively) are all in search of one of the most dangerous books in history. One that explains to the adept just how to unlock the secret gates, and allow the Old Gods to return to our plane of existence…
Indian mythos, Lovecraft, Conan Doyle and, shall we say Robert Holmes as a suitable representative Who scribe, all come together in Andy Lane’s story, transliterated to audio script by Guy Adams.
“There’s something different about you. Don’t tell me…it’s the hair, isn’t it – you’ve had your hair done. Oh, I know…you’ve lost weight!”
“No, Doctor. I’m disguised as a man. Have you got any idea how they treat women in this era?”
Watson pairs off with The Doctor, visits a crazy cat lady with a propensity towards spontaneous human combustion and winds up in the clink. Holmes goes undercover with the London underworld and pays a call to a turn of the century Fight Club, and he and Watson head out to a sleazy bar that doubles as a ritual meeting space for a coven of rather Lovecraftian occultists…
“Holmes and Watson were brain and heart. One cold and logical, the other warm and emotional. Between them, they made a whole human being.”
The trio drop in on Sherlock’s posh eldest brother Sherrington (Hugh Fraser) for some expert assistance on arcane matters, embark on a grand chase through India and pick up Ms. Summerfield along the way…
Then Watson pairs off with Benny, whose rather un-19th Century feminist snark and strength of presence he finds quite intriguing, to fend off some Indian deva. And of course, he also finds Ace and her form fitting PVC gear rather stimulating not long thereafter…he’s quite a randy old chap for someone so proper and reserved!
“You will be spreading death and destruction across the cosmos. You offer not the hand of friendship, but the jackboot of tyranny.”
“Ah, I see. A liberal…you offer a handful of minor grievances. There are no laws in this new land…you cannot touch me there. I will be king. I will be god!”
“ugh. Just another potted little bully. Forget it…”
It’s all pretty straightforward for a story with so many characters, boiled down to a few quick investigative scenes in the first half and a whole lot of sci-fi chases and bombast in the second. You tell me which end works (and quite well at that), and which is getting a bit tired from overuse at this point in history.
“That said, I don’t have to accept your calling me Shirley, so kindly don’t do it again!”
This reviewer certainly appreciated all the character bits, banter and clever asides, with those first two and a half episodes (and the wrapup) proving quite winning, with a reasonable balance of action, discussion and development.
And while it’s hardly as Lovecraftian as you might think from the setup (there is precious little of that sort of shuddersome arcane atmospherics, devolutionary horror and sense of helplessness in the face of a sinister unknown universe to be found herein, despite the trappings), a little touch of Lovecraft – not to mention a bit of Conan Doyle – always goes a long way.
Sadly, the conclusion of the tale devolves a bit into more standard modern entertainment tropes, and while there still isn’t half the sheer number of explosions, shouting and aggro rollercoaster bubba meises as your typical comic book/spy/action/sci-fi film or television show…not to mention New Who, it’s a bit more juvenile than Classic Whovians…or Big Finish regulars, for that matter – have come to expect.
Check it out for the earlier half…as well as the extended wrapup and sendoff, which is rather fun.
You have to love a man who remembers to go back for the cats.