‘Harry Houdini’s War‘ is the latest release from Big Finish and the concluding story in the current Sixth Doctor and Peri run. It’s not a traditional trilogy as the only connecting dots between the previous stories are our two leads. It’s also nice to know that this isn’t the last time we’ll hear these two together. Big Finish have announced a new Six and Peri box set!
Boasting a gorgeous cover, by artist Lee Johnson, we are given some clues as to what to expect but nothing that comes close to preparing us for what’s in store. A quick plot description is that The Doctor visits Harry Houdini, a comfortable acquaintance as we learn, which results in playful banter and an adventure you’re not soon to forget. More detail could be given but it would just take away from the fun.
Plotting the plot
Steve Lyons has scripted a drama that doesn’t feel quite like what one might expect from a Sixth Doctor story. Colin Baker delivers his Sixth Doctor, as only he could, but it flirts with being more of a Seventh Doctor script. Six is keeping his cards close to his chest while playing a long game. It’s fantastic fun!
Actor John Schwab is clearly having as much fun as anyone possibly could playing Harry Houdini in an adventure. The wild thing is, though obviously it’s an audio, his commitment and passion makes it all so visual (along with the tremendous sound design). It’s this charm and joy that is reminiscent of John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness. This is just a part of what makes ‘Harry Houdini’s War‘ feel like it could have originally been a script for something else entirely. It also makes me wonder what kind of trouble Seven, Ace and Captain Jack could get up to together.
Chapter Two in particular plays out as if it were a Captain Jack and the Seventh Doctor adventure. If Peri happened to be thrilled by the adventure it could have been Ace but it’s a great dynamic as such. The chemistry between the cast is electric! Fiona Bruce and Mark Elstob bring a great dynamic and humanity to their characters only to elevate this story. If there’s one thing this adventure isn’t, is predictable and in part it’s because all of the elements around the script were aligned well.
Another lovely bonus to this drama is the work of Joe Meiners. Both his sound design and music really keep the listener engaged. Be sure to check out the music scores included as an extra feature on this one.
‘Harry Houdini’s War‘ is an excellent oddity. It’s fun to have a different sort of Sixth Doctor story and to bring Harry Houdini fully into the Whoniverse. It’s all so just slightly off the rails that it sets it’s own track making for a memorable audio experience. It’ll be interesting to listen to this again in a few weeks to see how it settles. That alone makes it worth picking up.
The world is at war, and Harry Houdini wants to fight for his adoptive country. He might get the chance, when an old friend crashes his New York show.
The Doctor is on the trail of a Central Powers spy ring, which has somehow acquired unearthly technology. But he is also keeping a dangerous secret…
Finding himself on the run behind enemy lines, the world’s greatest escape artist has to work out who he can trust – and fast.
- Colin Baker (The Doctor)
- Nicola Bryant (Peri Brown)
- Fiona Bruce (Mrs Helen Smith / Hartmann)
- Mark Elstob (Oberst Brandt / Reynolds)
- Glen McCready (Professor Winter)
- John Schwab (Harry Houdini)