Michelle Gomez is back for another dark cosmic joyride as Missy: the woman who makes people worse

 

Missy’s a bad, bad girl. And a bad influence on those who fall under her charming, captivating influence. The three stories in Bad Influence underline that by matching up the rogue Time Lady with various characters she immediately begins to corrupt. Equally though, this set could have been called The Lifes and Loves of a Doctor Who She-Devil. A strong element of each episode is the chaotic nature of Missy’s timey-wimey, evilly-wevilly love life. The Doctor’s best frenemy has certainly never been so… well, horny on main before. But it just adds another level of chaos and destruction for her to wrap herself in before being away with one quantum leap of her stiletto boots. Leaving a trail of dead bodies and broken planets in her wave is one thing. But broken hearts? Now that’s despicable.

 

Missy and the Time Assassin is your everyday screwball comedy about genocide

We open Bad Influence, and first story Missy and the Time Assassin, on a humdrum, average day for Missy, as she dangles over a existence shredding hole in time, grappling with the alien pig emperor whose vault she’s trying to raid. But before long she’s stranded on officially the most boring planet in the universe. The place where the worst of the worst the timelines have to offer are dumped to ensure nothing happens to them again. Ever. There she meets fellow new inmate James Blakelock, Time Assassin.

Missy immediately engages full swoon mode in finally meeting the deadly and vicious genocidal monster that decorated the walls of her Academy dorm room. But her lust for her old pin-up is based on a misunderstanding. The wars, dictatorships, and extinction events that litter his path through time aren’t deliberate. Blackelock actually wants to end wars and save lives. He’s just incredibly, mind-bogglingly, bad at it, leaving every situation worse than how he found it.

A goody two-shoes, and an idiot? His life expectancy drastically shortens to however long it takes Missy to decide if she can inspire him to live up to his reputation.

 

Patterson Joseph as the Time Assassin James Blakelock in Missy: Bad Influence. The actor stands in a recording booth, his script in front of him (c) Big Finish
Patterson Joseph as the Time Assassin James Blakelock in Missy: Bad Influence (c) Big Finish

Patterson Joseph as the Time Assassin James Blakelock is a perfect comic foil

A time-hopping screwball comedy about genocide, Missy and the Time Assassin was always going to succeed of fail based on the rapport between Michelle Gomez and Patterson Joseph as Blakelock. Fortunately, they’re fantastic together. Joseph’s Time Assassin is the perfect, prim, easily flustered foil to the force of nature he finds himself figuratively shackled to as they share a time machine to run from the law. Blakelock wants to clear his name and save the day, but the seductive, exciting, quick-talking Missy would rather blow up a star system or two. Will he hold firm or surrender to temptation?

If that wasn’t enough, there’s also the joy of a script which makes the cast casually use the word ‘encephafiddle’ as often as possible.

 

Bad Apple Brigade offers up a twisted slasher film, where teenage girls camping in the woods meet the ultimate Final Girl: Missy

Bad Apple Brigade lands Missy on a dark, windswept isle in the 1920s, straight out of a Tintin book. One quick bit of homicide later, and she’s in place as camp leader of a foursome of delinquent schoolgirls exiled there on a character building excursion. With their past indiscretions extending all the way to arson, they’re Missy’s type of girls. Though Grace, the most sensible one, does wonder why their life lessons have suddenly turned to encouraging their worst vices. One piece of advice the girls foolishly overlook, however, is to never trust anyone. Because as amusing as their new instructor finds them, their best interests are far from her hearts.

What follows is a fun twist on a good old fashioned slasher movie. The past of the island is littered with mysterious disappearances and there’s violent plant monster stalking the woods, turning people into trees. There can be only one final girl, and a certain Time Lady is determined to make sure her name starts with ‘M’ and ends with ‘issy.’ There are people splitting up and getting lost in the woods, derelict cabins that are not the safe havens they first appear, and personal secrets revealed.

But it’s when an old lover of Missy’s crawls out of the woodwork that things get really entertaining. The trouble is that she has no idea who he is. In a fun house mirror reflection of the Doctor and River, he’s someone Missy with chew up and spit out at some future date. And now her ex is feeling positively murderous. It’s wonderful to hear Missy, usually tap dancing so effortlessly across events, planned or unplanned, genuinely discombobulated by the situation.

 

Ian Conningham as Edward the Black Prince in Missy (c) Big Finish The actor stands in front of a microphone, yelling, his arms spread
Ian Conningham as Edward the Black Prince in Missy (c) Big Finish

The Baron Robbers is a medieval heist movie with too few twists and turns

Final story The Baron Robbers mashes up genres as Missy leads a heist movie ensemble in the medieval days of yore. With her already faltering vortex manipulator now completely kaput, she needs a rare spinnet gemstone as a spare part. Fortunately Edward the Black Pince (Ian Conningham) has just the thing. Missy quickly installs herself in the household as Edward’s personal physician to Baron Rufus (a superbly pompous Rupert Vansittart). It leaves her perfectly positioned to swipe the jewel in question. Meanwhile, the stress and activity of preparing for an imminent royal visit provides perfect cover for her schemes. But she also realizes that there are others with their eyes on the same prize. Complicating things further, once again there’s an ex/future lover waiting in the wings.

This time out the humour comes from Missy seizing control of the whole operation and turning a very straightforward robbery into an over-complicated heist movie pastiche. Of course, all the wheeling cogs and gears of the plan also help distract her co-conspirators from her inevitable betrayal. The Baron Robbers is probably Bad Influence’s weak link, it’s single idea not quite enough to sustain it, and with really only one place to go for its ending.

But Gomez leads as engaging and entertaining a cast as always, her wit as razor sharp as ever.

 

Michelle Gomez thankfully still can’t enough of the character, and neither can audiences

The main draw here is, of course, Michelle Gomez. She remains consistently one of those actors who listeners would pay to read the phone book. A phone book that in her hands would no doubt wound up sounding wry, sharp-witted, and just a little bit dirty. Bad Influence feeds her great lines by the TARDIS-load and she’s clearly relishing every syllable. She’s plainly far from tired of Missy. Likewise, audiences may never tire of this particular, dark, twisted, cosmic joyride.

 

 

Missy: Bad Influence. Cover by Simon Holub (c) Big Finish. Missy holds up her multi-purpose device, looking mysterious. She surrounded by shattered glass, featuring reflections of herself, the Time Assassin, a pig-man in a crown, and a medieval knight with glowing green eyes
Missy: Bad Influence. Cover by Simon Holub (c) Big Finish

Missy: Bad Influence

Missy… alone, unleashed, and unfettered. What does she get up to when the Doctor isn’t around?

Sometimes, Missy isn’t the only bad person in the room. Sometimes, she meets others with their own naughty plans. And whoever they might be – medieval thieves, wayward students, renowned assassins – Missy will bring out the worst in them…

The Worlds of Doctor Who – Missy: Bad Influence is now available to purchase as a collector’s edition box set (on CD for just £24.99) or a digital download (for just £19.99), exclusively here.

 

 

 

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