Monday, January 14, 2013

The Auntie Matter [Fourth Doctor + Romana I]

This is the first of the second series of Tom Baker Big Finish productions. It pairs up Tom with Mary Tamm. It is thus one of the last things that Mary Tamm did before her sadly early death. Unlike Caroline John's appearance in 'The Last Post' this feels less valedictory and more a traditional Doctor Who tale. Part of a series.

It's Doctor Who meets P.G. Wodehouse: a bit of Jeeves, a bit of Blandings and a bit of the Drones club. It takes P.G. Wodehouse's obsession with fearsome Aunts to an extreme degree. It's rather delightful to hear the magnificent Julia Mackenzie get her teeth into an Wodehousian Aunt with a twist.

Jonathan Morris, the writer also weaves a rather clever plot, which keeps both Romana and the Doctor occupied and plays with the idea of the necessity of separating Doctor & companion in a (slightly) unusual way, which adds to the fun.

This is the first Tom Baker Big Finish I've heard and it feels a little different to the others. Perhaps it is Tom, whose delivery is so Tom that it sounds a little less natural than the other Doctors, even if it feels quite spot on Tomish. I do adore Tom Baker. The Fourth Doctor is my Doctor and to hear him in full Doctor-ish flow again is a real pleasure.

Mary Tamm is magnificent too. Her Romana keeps that slightly superior tone of the television version, whose clearly unimpressed with being stuck on a primitive planet like Earth. Again. Her desire to go and explore, nudged along by the Doctor is what leads to....well a meeting with a perfectly written and perfectly cast pseudo-Wooster in Reggie (Robert Portal).

I can't praise Robert Portal enough for his joyful performance. It's perfectly homage to that upper class fool who manages to scrap through. Normally aided by a valet.

There's also Lucy Griffith's as Mabel, who is the Doctor and Romana's maid. Yes, maid. They begin this story as Lord and Lady Something in a London house. With Butler and Maid. The Doctor's done something to the TARDIS to distract the Black Guardian - thus explaining the additional Romana I adventure - and left them stranded in 1920s London. No one really explains the house and servants but lets go for it. Mabel finds herself dragged into the adventure, much to her bemusement.

If you want an hour of highly amusing Wodehouse Doctor Who then this will hit the spot.

There's also a rather nice tribute to Mary Tamm as part of the extras.

She'll be missed.

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