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The Wishing Beast and The Vanity Box: `A vacuum cleaner?!' `Yes! The scourge of all ghastly ghoulie nasties!'
on 1 March 2013
This is the ninety seventh release from Big Finish in their range of full cast audio adventures starring classic Doctor Whos. It stars Colin Baker as Six and Bonnie Langford as Mel. There are two stories here, the first three episodes are an adventure called The Wishing Beast, the fourth episode a one part story called The Vanity Box, which has a direct r3elationship to the preceding adventure. Episodes are roughly 25-30 minutes each, complete with original theme music between each, and cliff hanger endings within the three parter. Two episodes per disc on 2 discs, and a short booklet with some pictures of the cast and production notes. There are also some interviews with cast and crew at the end of the both the first and second discs.
The Wishing Beast is a middling story with a great concept and set up, but doesn't quite manage to live up to it. Six and Mel are brought to a mysterious asteroid by a distress call. There they are met by two mysterious old ladies who live alone together in a house in the woods. The haunted woods. The companions are promised that in the morning they will be given their dearest wish by the mysterious wishing beast. But of course not all is as it seems...
This has a dark and interesting set up, and in the two sisters two very well realised characters. The concept of layers of life being stripped away to leave ghosts is a fascinating one. But the scriptwriter seems to have forgotten about the need for a good story to hang these on, and the resolution is a bit of a damp squib (literally, with a leap and a bound he was free). Three stars for this story.
The single parter, The Vanity Box, is far superior. It has a real sense of fun, of time and place. It's worth it just for the image of old Sixie dragged up as an old Northern woman, a part that Baker pulls off with aplomb. It's a great little story that links closely to the preceding adventure. Personally I think it has more legs, and could have been made into a three parter whereas the Wishing Beast might have worked better as a single parter.
4 stars in all for this release.