Written at Colin Baker’s request, this story takes a hard turn away from the usual sci-fi and into an old-school historical.
This change of format in ‘The Behemoth’ may not be welcomed by all listeners. But, for me, pure historical tales are too few and far between. Twelve stories only in the classic series could be classed as pure historical. All of them in the show’s earliest years. Big Finish do the odd historical but it rarely eschews aliens entirely. The format is due a comeback!
Slow & Steady
The piece starts out in a very fitting Sixth Doctor style bordering on Restoration comedy. It moves at a glacial pace for the first two parts and doesn’t ramp up the drama until we get to second half. This, however, doesn’t make the story any less enjoyable to consume and actually reflects the gentle pace of classic episodes like ‘Black Orchid‘.
The titular Behemoth and Captain Van Der Meer are both real historical characters, while the remaining cast act as inventions to reflect the people of the time. Without wanting to spoil the narrative, the story tackles the historical atrocity of slave trade. It doesn’t delve particularly deeply into this challenging issue but, to be fair, this is a very sensitive subject.
The relationship between the Doctor and the widowed Mrs. Middlemint, which verges on the romantic, is lovely. It’s a gentle but endearing moment, allowing the Doctor a rare show of romantic affection. Meanwhile, Flip is dealing with unwanted advances by a Georgian gentleman throughout the piece. A nice way of bringing to light issues of women’s liberation in these times.
In summation, ‘The Behemoth’ is a calm, intentionally slower-paced pure historical tale. It grants the inhabitants of the TARDIS a divergence from their daily outing with aliens and space travel. ‘The Behemoth’ shows the drama and lessons that can be learned by simply looking back at our own past.
Blogtor Rating – 8/10
Bath, 1756 – and a very dashing gentleman known only as the Doctor is newly arrived in town, accompanied by his lady friends Mrs Clarke and Mrs Ramon. He’s created a stir among the gentlefolk of Georgian high society – and a stir in the heart of merry widow Mrs Theodosia Middlemint, rumour has it.
They are not the only strangers from abroad causing tongues to wag, however. The mysterious Lady Clara, come from Amsterdam in the company of the noble Captain Van Der Meer, has the whole of Bath agog. Who is she, really? What is she, really?
But there’s something terrible beneath the veneer of Georgian gentility. As awful a horror as the Doctor has ever exposed, hidden inside Balsam’s Brassworks. Something that needs to be brought to light, for the sake of all humanity.
Written By: Marc Platt
Directed By: Jamie Anderson
Colin Baker (The Doctor), Lisa Greenwood (Flip Jackson), Miranda Raison (Mrs Constance Clarke), Glynn Sweet (Sir Geoffrey Balsam), Georgina Moon (Mrs Middlemint), Liam McKenna (Titus Craven), Wayne Forester (Rev Mr Philip Naylor), Giles New (Captain Douwemout Van Der Meer), Diveen Henry (Sarah), Ben Arogundade (Gorembe). Other parts played by members of the cast.
Producer David Richardson
Script Editor Alan Barnes
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs