This is the fifty first release from Big Finish in their range of full cast audio adventures starring classic Doctor Whos. It stars Colin Baker as Six and guests Katy Manning as Iris Wildthyme. There are 4 episodes, roughly 25-30 minutes each, complete with original theme music between each, and cliff hanger endings. Two episodes per disc on 2 discs, and a short booklet with some pictures of the cast and production notes.
Travelling alone after the events of Trial of a Time Lord, Six is looking for somewhere where he can relax for a bit, recover from his ordeal and reflect a little on the events. He winds up at Bianca's, a cabaret in 1930's Berlin. But his relaxation is soon shattered by the arrival of Iris Wildthyme, an old acquaintance of the Doctor's. There is something afoot, and it is not what you might expect in 1930's Berlin.
Released seemingly as a bit of light relief after the dark, marathon and complicated heavy going epic that was Zagreus, this is a real curate's egg of a story that has bits that work exceedingly well and bits that really don't.
The bits that work well are the framing device, the story unfolds as a series of tape recordings being played by one of the characters to a mysterious visitor, years after the events. Secondly is the idea of a broodier Six, with some of the bombast and ego knocked out of him and now with an edge of doubt and weariness. Colin Baker really does a superb job of portraying this slightly altered character, so affected by the confrontation with the Valyard.
The bits that don't work well are Iris Wildthyme (a shame, as the story revolves around her quite a lot) with her OTT drunken Northern lass persona. Katy Manning plays it well, but it's a badly conceived idea and doesn't really fit in well. I can see it's intended as light relief, but it annoys rather than amuses, and distracts from the exploration of Six's subdued personality. And the basic plot is not very interesting, the final twist being one that we have seen before, and not very long ago in terms of the Doctor's timeline. It lurches from feeling unoriginal to clunky and under explained.
All in all three stars for this story. Top marks for Baker and his new characterisation for Six, but the story is not worthy of his performance, and Iris is a real annoyance.
Another audio adventure for the sixth doctor who. This time, travelling on his post the tv story trial of a time lord, a careworn doctor has come to a bar in 1930's berlin, run by an old friend of his. But he finds she has a few problems of her own.
The tale is told in flashback, by one of the supporting cast in framing scenes set many years later. The doctor's old friend is iris wildthyme, a time lady played by katy manning who played the third doctor's companion jo onscreen. She plays Iris as a larger than life northern lady complete with a very strong accent in the 'eecky thoomp' style.
You'll either love or hate the iris character, and much of whether you like this one or not will hinge on that. personally I got tired of her after one book appearance, so this didn't desperately appeal. And the plot of this story is distinctily underwhelming. There are attempts at humour that are very strained, two underwhelming cliffhangers, and a plot that never really gets going till the last episode. And even then it's slightly familiar from one of the tv stories. This episode is a lot better than the preceding three, and there's a nice little twist in the final scene. Colin Baker plays the careworn doctor very well, but on the whole this is a rather underwhelming release and not desperately interesting.
on 12 March 2009
There's one place in creation where the truth really can be found in the bottom of a glass: Bianca's, a very special and very exclusive little club.
The Doctor, careworn and seeking quiet distraction, gains admission. But his rest and relaxation is soon shattered by the wobbly arrival of louche trans-temporal adventuress Iris Wildthyme. She claims she's on a secret mission of vital importance, the success of which hinges on her getting paralytic. When she's drunk, she can hear the whispering voices in her head!
The Doctor soon learns that Bianca's airs and graces cover not just one malevolent power lurking in the shadows, but several. And a wriggling, writhing presence has designs on the clientele just as Bianca herself has designs on the Doctor. At last, after so many centuries, the weary Time Lord is dragged by the heels into that darkest of undiscovered countries - love.
Colin Baker is at his best here and Iris Wildthyme (Katy Manning) is a great foil for him. Highly recommended.