Minuet in Hell (#19)

Big Finish Main Range

This was the first audio drama I purchased from Big Finish so I have a soft spot for it. Or else I’d give it a 2 out of 5 rating. It really is, in retrospect, kind of ridiculous. When I first heard it, I couldn’t tell which person was the Doctor and which one was the imposter. Back when I couldn’t tell Paul McGann’s voice from the crowd but that doesn’t happen now. Oh for the good old days!

Despite the presence of the Brigadier, this audio lacks any sort of threat. The creature that’s after everyone, preying on the fear created by Dashwood, voiced by the inestimable Rober Jezek of Frobisher fame (More Frobisher! More Frobisher!), is just kinda lame in the end. Perhaps it’s just that I don’t believe the political machinations behind the storyline but other than the acting carrying this story, it’s not that convincing. When the bad guy is an evangelical preacher type, who was also the captain in Red Dawn, I just yawn. I don’t take that sort of bad guy very seriously at all. It’s all in the rhetoric. That there’s an evil alien psionivaur named Marcosius behind him is just icing on the cake, to make it all supernatural and in the realm of the Doctor. He just isn’t really needed to wrap things up otherwise.

Though without the psionivaur, there would be no psi machine and no way to actively add to the chaos. Why the aliens need to have this machine isn’t clear either. They’re feeding on people’s negative energy/emotions. So the situation would be fine pickings without the machine. It’s never clear why the machine is required for the aliens. Removing the personality imprint/personality of the person to replace them with something/someone of Bringham Elisha Dashwood’s choosing. How did Crane expect to fool Charley once he had the Doctor’s mind imprinted on his own? And would all of the catatonic people think they were Crane if he had been in the machine? Strange how the pieces don’t stand up under examination but take them as a whole and it’s a decent enough story. And I totally didn’t recognize Robert Jezek as Frobisher. As other characters but not as Frobisher. Great acting was done all around but in the end, the story is just good.

Paul McGann, India Fisher, and Nicholas Courtney

Writer: Alan W Lear with Gary Russell

Director: Nicholas Briggs

Release: April 2001

Laura Vilensky 2019