5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 23 April 2006
"The twenty-first century has just begun, and Malebolgia is enjoying its status as the newest state in America. After his successful involvement with Scotland's devolution, Brigadier Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart has been invited over to Malebolgia to offer some of his experiences and expertise.
"There he encounters the charismatic Brigham Elisha Dashwood III, an evangelical statesman running for Governor who may not be quite as clean-cut and wholesome as he makes out. One of Dashwood's other roles in society is as patron of a new medical institute concentrating on curing the ills of the human mind. One of the patients there interests the Brigadier - someone who claims he travels through space and time in something called a TARDIS.
"Charley, however, has more than a few problems of her own. Amnesiac, she is working as a hostess at the local chapter of the Hell Fire Club, populated by local dignitaries who have summoned forth the demon Marchosias. And the leader of the Club? None other than Dashwood, who seems determined to achieve congressional power by the most malevolent means at his disposal..."
Alan W Lear and Gary Russell's Minuet in Hell is a long one. Although only four episodes in length, each episode clocks in at over 30 minutes and the first episode is nearly 45. It'll drag, or be poorly edited, you might think - but not so. Rather, Minuet in Hell has a tight script with some excellent lines, and universally enthusiastic and excellent performances from all involved, particularly McGann and a welcome return for Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart.
The largely British supporting cast are called upon to perform their roles in American accents and, while some pull it off well, others sound a little too much like clichéd deep south rednecks, particularly Morgan Deare as Senator Waldo Pickering. The casting of Robert Jezek as Dashwood is also a little confusing, as it's hard to get the picture of a giant talking penguin out of your head when listening to his lines. None the less, he plays his part well.
The plot is enjoyable, kicking straight off with the amnesiac Doctor and equally incapacitated Charley waking up respectively in a loony bin and Dashwood's Hellfire Club, with no explanation as to how the two travellers got there. This mystery is gradually unravelled as the Doctor begins to find his feet and regain his identity, hindered somewhat by the British reporter Gideon Crane, who insists that it is he who is the Doctor. Charley, meanwhile, gets into a variety of scrapes of her own as she tries to locate her friend, and both have plenty to do.
An enjoyable play with high production values that ends the first "season" of Big Finish Eighth Doctor adventures with a bang!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is the ninteenth release from Big Finish in their range of full cast audio adventures starring classic Doctor Whos. It stars Paul McGann as Eight and India Fisher as Charlie Pollard. There are four episodes, roughly 30-45 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 notes from the author.
This is an excellent story from Big Finish. The Doctor and Charlie are lost in Malebolgia, America's newest state set firmly in the deep south. Both are amnesiac, the Doctor finds himself in a dubious mental institution and Charlie finds herself in another type of institution altogether. And wandering around is an old and reassuringly friendly, dependable voice - a certain Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. There also appear to be Demons wandering the streets.
The story has a lot of fun with the Doctor's character here, without giving away any spoilers it is fun listening to him regain his conscious self, and get his memories back. The debates he has with another inmate, who truly believes himself to be the Doctor, are fascinating and beautifully performed. There is also plenty of action going on, with lots for the Brig, Charlie, and new friend Becky-Lee to be getting on with as they investigate the mysterious mental institution, the Hellfire club and the presence of what appear to be real Demons.
At 140 minutes it's a bit longer than the usual Big Finish production, but doesn't sag anywhere and delivers a really decent, involved tale which will keep you hooked.
I believe that this would be the last time Nicholas Courtney would reprise the role of the Brigadier in the company of a classic TV Doctor. He would return to the role in other BF ranges, the companion chronicles and notably alongside David Warner's alternative 3rd Doctor, and he appeared in Zagreus as the Tardis impersonating the Brig, but I don't think he appeared again as the Brig in the company of an actor playing 4,5,6,7 or 8. This tale forms a fitting ending to their partnership, and their final parting seems a fitting way for them to part, with a heartfelt few words from the Doctor. It is interesting to note how BF developed the character and his relationship with the Doctor in the space of just two stories (this and the Spectre of Lanyon Moor). In the TV series it was the Brig who needed the Doctor's help, but BF subtly changed that so that the Brig is the one who has the plan to save the day, or to rescue the Doc. It's a great characterisation, and superbly played out by Courtney.
5 stars all round, this is an excellent production, and worth getting just for Nicholas Courtney's solid, reassuring tones in one of his best performances as the Brigadier.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I came away with mixed feelings about this audio story. It was certainly an epic in length, which was great! I love a story that's long enough to enable the audience to really get involved. And Paul McGann and Nicholas Courtney are totally brilliant in it, as is Nicholas Briggs.
There are moments of absolute horror in the story; as when the Doctor finds himself in Hell; and when Marchosias talks in his best demon voice - and yet, there are times when Marchosias sounds like a caricature of himself. And the Southern drawl accents of the Americans are really somewhat over the top. I can see Dashwood as the southern Evangelical, but some of the lines and voices really just did seem to be somewhat more than required for the story. The Senator reminded me of Yosemite Sam; which is probably not a good thing for a story of this supposed gravitas. I expected him to start shooting a pistol in the air at any time.
The links between Dashwood's grand schemes and the Hellfire Club were nicely tied together. And Gideon Crane is an interesting character; it would be good to see him back again - he seemed to be a good foil with the Doctor, even when there was confusion for both of them in various of the scenes (avoiding the spoilers).
With all that said, the story had real moments of chilling terror and horror; and the storyline ran well. Very very good; just not quite sure it was great Doctor Who. Still, five stars for length, pure energy and effort, and the chance to hear the Brigadier again.
on 19 April 2009
I don't think there's been a dud Doctor Who story featuring The redoubtable Brigadier, and this is no exception. Set in the US and with a few OTT accents this is a feisty and accessible audio drama from Big Finish despite also being a rather long one. Gary Russell can always be relied upon to produce something dark and mysterious and the world Charley Pollard finds herself in is pretty dark. Strong performances from the leads, a great cameo from Nick Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and a well written and well paced story from Russell.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 November 2005
GReat piece of work. The Doctor doesnt get around much, but is still busy fighting evil. The Brig. is back and he is in fine form, and I dare say that his role is not just one to stand idle.
Everyone is great and really this CD being an 'Epic' (in length and scope) really does entertain. 5 stars and a superb all round performance.