December is a great time of year, especially for Big Finish listeners. In a month packed full of outstanding audio adventures we’re also treated to two Monthly Adventures. ‘The Hunting Ground’, and ‘The Muse of Fire’ have both been released and on the same day no less. Check out our review for ‘The Hunting Ground’ and read on for ‘The Muse of Fire’.
‘The Muse of Fire’ marks the fifth Seventh Doctor adventure in a row. Sixth if you count the New Adventures. After being to space, taking on alternate time lines and just about everything else, this story brings us to Paris in 1922. A time when the world was ripe with some of the most creative people in history. The problem is that those people are not making the reputations that we know them for. Add one Iris Wildthyme to the mix and a mysterious romp through Paris we will have.
The topic at hand is criticism. An interesting topic that often isn’t viewed kindly upon, either by the reader and/or the creative’s. A review, certainly in the wider world of high-art, can either be too kind and viewed as bias, or not kind enough and perhaps ruin careers. But what could be worse than a neutral review? Not bad, not good, just average. Of course this isn’t an in-depth exploration in regards to the consequences of reviews. This is Doctor Who. It’s a subtext for sure but this is more about the adventure and friendship.
A Paul Magrs script is always an occasion to pick up Big Finish. His stories are often thoughtful and exciting and this is no different. He treats us to a Paris that we all know and love with some alterations that add to the plot. This is a humorous and light-hearted drama but doesn’t shy away from drama. The way he writes for Iris is fantastically enjoyable. This is a character I don’t know much about but don’t believe I need to as this is almost a reintroduction of the character. Iris Wildthyme is meeting this TARDIS team for the first time and she’s quite possibly the antagonist.
If you’re a long time fan of Katy Manning’s Iris Wildthyme, you will have no doubt bought this already. Rightfully so. If you’re new, buckle-up! It’s going to be one hell of a wild time. An over exaggeration but the play on words is irresistible. Manning, maybe more than anyone who works for Big Finish, is always “on” and always having fun. She oozes charm and even when you’ve had it with her, she’s just so real that you can imagine her being family and you couldn’t stay angry. She’s a full-grown child. One can only imagine how Iris became the Time Lady that she is today.
Panda, of course… well, what can be said? Such a bizarre and excellent companion. It would be a hoot to see Panda and Frobisher team up. How has that not happened?
It’s great to have Hex back every now and then. He’s a nice juxtaposition to most companions and certainly balancing against Ace. This is likely an earlier adventure for Hex based on his behaviour and relationship with Ace. Best of all is his new found friendship with Iris. The way she manipulates him along with his willing apprehension, is positively delightful.
Sylvester McCoy and Sophie Aldred are of course the perfect pair and Aldred is at her top Ace here. She’s brash, teasing and ready for anything that isn’t boring. Top notch entertainment for us listeners.
Benji Clifford has created some beautiful and era appropriate music that just butters the listener into this 1920’s Paris. The choice to not go synth was absolutely right as he pushed this already highly enjoyable story over the edge, into the outstanding.
Writing, cast and music are all as superb as one could hope for. This is such a lovely way to end the Monthly Adventures for 2018. It’s also a great way to reintroduce Iris Wildthyme to new listeners as we establish a new relationship between her and the Doctor. This is fun. Not the dark Seventh Doctor we’re all aware of. This is the Doctor in his element with his friends around and re-assessing old friends. A truly enjoyable story from start to finish.
This title was released in December 2018. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until January 31st 2019, and on general sale after this date.
Oooh la la! It’s been a long time coming, but the Doctor is about to be reunited with Iris Wildthyme! They’re both in 1920s Paris and everyone’s flocking to Iris’s salon.
But wait…! What’s that noise..? Thud thud thud…! It’s the soft, approaching feet of a small and acerbic Art Critic Panda…!
Written By: Paul Magrs
Directed By: Jamie Anderson
Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Sophie Aldred (Ace), Philip Olivier (Hex), Katy Manning (Iris Wildthyme), David Benson (Panda) Gethin Anthony (Kevin Archer/Dali), Rebecca La Chance (Isabel Archer), Christine Kavanagh (Dora Muse). Other parts played by members of the cast.
Producer Nicholas Briggs
Script Editor Alan Barnes
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs