Missy Series 1
You wait ages for an audio drama review and then two come along at once. Well I did win this one on the Big Finish Podcast, so it's only fair I do them the honour of a review.
When Big Finish first started, their license was limited to the classic series, just the first Eight Doctors, but in 2015 their horizons were allowed to expand into post-2005 territory adding New UNIT to the ranges, but since then they've added many other ranges, covering all Doctors and characters right up to the previous series, and this one is the first series for Michelle Gomez, delightfully reviving her incarnation of the Master - Missy.
But does Missy work as well in audio as she does on screen? How can Michelle Gomez eat up the scenery when there isn't any? Well I'm sure I can only say something nice.
The Master was first introduced in the Seventies as the Moriarty to Jon Pertwee's Doctor/Holmes and like the good Doctor has gone through many incarnations with Michelle taking over the reigns in 2014, with the series dipping it's toe in the water with a gender changing regeneration of a major character. Now this could have gone horribly wrong, and dismissed as a PC gimmick, if it wasn't for Michelle Gomez. She clearly relished the role and brought a whole new dimension to the character of the Master, taking great pleasure in making Capaldi's Doctor so uncomfortable with the moving gender boundaries.
Though we saw Missy effectively killed off in her last TV appearance, the great thing about Big Finish is that it's not bound by the timeline of the TV series, after all it is currently putting out new stories for the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth and Tenth Doctors, so they can tell stories set whenever it feels, filling in the gaps so to speak. So this set of tales are set somewhere between Missy stabbing her former self, and her former self shooting her, but to be honest that doesn't really matter.
Much was made of Missy's resemblence to Mary Poppins in the TV show, so it was clearly too irresistable to not exploit this in her opening story, A Spoon Full of Mayhem. This story sees Missy taking on the role of Governess taking two young children on a magical trip around Victorian London, with a dark and unhinged take on PL Travers famous Nanny. As we can't see Missy's wonderful costume in the audio version, here she is clothed in Joe Kraemer's fabulous, whimsical music, and of course Missy gets her own theme, which at first sounds a bit of a swash buckler, but then you might just notice it's a variation on Chim Chim Cheree in a minor key. This box set features the isolated music after each episode, well worth a listen.
The second story Divorced, Beheaded, Regenerated gives us a second renegade Timelord, no not the Doctor, but the Meddling Monk. First introduced in the Sixties as an adversary of the First Doctor. Originally played by Peter Butterworth, Big Finish revived the character with a second incarnation played by Graeme Garden, and a third played by Rufus Hound. It's the Third incarnation of the Monk we meet here, originally hiding out from the Time War on 16th Century Earth, but with a crippled TARDIS and the Time War now over he's meddling with history to try and attract someone's attention to get him out of there. No prizes for guessing who he attracts! So despite there being no scenery in an audio drama, Rufus and Michelle manage to chew up every ounce of it in this one. They make such a delicious combination, I really do hope they're paired up again.
The third story Broken Clock is quite an unusual story, using the narrative structure of a noir detective drama. This is one of the things I like about Big Finish, that they're not afraid to subvert the dramatic form, and tell stories in unual ways. It's hard to say much about this story without giving away key plot points, so I won't, but it is well worth a listen, with some intesting reveals about the character of The Master/Missy.
The last story, The Belly of the Beast, starts out as a classic Doctor Who story, set in a mine with strange beasties taking out the miners from time to time. Again Michelle Gomez excels in so many ways, and again I can't say too much without ruining things, but she does excel as a pychopathic tannoy announcer, with a fourth wall breaking jingle. A thought provoking story, which poses some interesting questions about the concept of self.
Overall a fantastic audio debut for Missy, with Michelle Gomez commanding every inch of that imaginary screen in your head. The combination of writing, music and not forgetting the double act with Rufus Hound, this is a great start to what promises to be an incredible new range for Big Finish.
And I have to say, Missy is my favourite Master.
You can buy Missy Series 1 directly from the Big Finish website, either on CD or download. For every CD purchase a download version is also included, which can be played by the Big Finish App.
- Michelle Gomez (Missy)
- Rufus Hound (The Monk)
- Oliver Clement (Oliver Davis)
- Bonnie Kingston (Lucy Davis)
- Simon Slater (Montague Davis / Moses Walker / Coachman)
- Dan Starkey (Mr Cosmo / Park Keeper / Old Man / Sphinx)
- Beth Chalmers (Djinn / Housemaid)
- Maggie Service (Catherine Parr)
- Leighton Pugh (Sir Foxcroft / Gramoryan 1 / Priest)
- Graham Seed (Gramoryan 2 / Taverner / Squire)
- Kenneth Jay (Dick Zodiac)
- Guy Paul (Joe Lynwood)
- Ryan Forde Iosco (The Actor Playing Joe Lynwood)
- Daniel Goode (Mark / Roy)
- Rachel Verkuil (Frankie / The Actress Playing Missy)
- Abbie Andrew (Aleyna)
- John Scougall (Cort / Guards)
- Lucy Goldie (Sath / Mother)
- Jason Nwoga (Doctor Goodnight)
- Jamie Laird (Mr Bryce / Father)
- Producer David Richardson
- Script Editor Matt Fitton
- Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs