‘GODS AND MONSTERS’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Hameovores and Fenric with the Doctor, Ace, Hex, Lysandra and Sally
An old enemy returns to haunt the Doctor and his companions!
‘Gods and Monsters’ is the final story in ‘The White/Black TARDIS Trilogy’ with the Seventh Doctor. This is an exciting finale to a series of stories with the Doctor and his companions and it is sequel to the classic ‘Doctor Who’ tale, ‘The Curse of Fenric’, as the sadistic villain and his Hameovores return!
This is a four-part adventure by Mike Maddox and Alan Barnes. I liked how the two writers make the companion characters shine throughout and that they are essential in the Doctor’s plans and the chess-game tactics of Fenric. It takes quite a lot of stories to build up to this huge dramatic moment!
The TARDIS team is huge in this story as well. There’s Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor with Sophie Aldred as Ace, Phillip Olivier as Hex, Maggie O’Neill as Lysandra Aristedes and Amy Pemberton as Sally Morgan. I wonder if Big Finish attempted to match the count of companions in ‘Journey’s End’.
I’ve been enjoying listening to these Seventh Doctor audios from ‘The Magic Mousetrap’ to ‘Gods and Monsters’. It occurred to me that all these stories with the Doctor, Ace and Hex with the White and the Black TARDISes were linked to lead to this epic conclusion as it was about Fenric all this time.
This story rounds off everything that has happened previously in ‘Protect and Survive’ and ‘Black and White’. Ace, Hex, Lysandra and Sally in the TARDIS arrive on a strange world for games and mystery. They find the Doctor there, but they also find Fenric there who is in a game with a deadly opponent.
I re-watched ‘The Curse of Fenric’ again to familiarise myself with the complexities of the story and also of the chess-playing nature of Fenric before I listened to this story. This story is as equally complicated as the original TV story, but having listened to the previous stories it was pretty exciting.
The Doctor finds himself up against the menace of Fenric again. But it turns out that the Doctor isn’t his opponent in this one. The Doctor is merely pawn since Fenric is in a deadly game with another opponent called Weyland, who needs his shield that the Doctor’s companions have brought for him.
This story has elements of Norse mythology again as with ‘Black and White’. The story features Weyland and his smithy as well as the Uffington White Horse hill in Oxfordshire, England. I’m already aware of Weyland and Ufflington White Horse from watching ‘The Moon Stallion’ with Sarah Sutton.
Fenric is played by John Standing. John delivers a menacing, chilling and sinister performance as the chess-playing evil Fenric. It was interesting listening to the scenes between Fenric and the Doctor as they try to outwit each other. Fenric has no regard for human life and just wants to play his games.
Sylvester McCoy is brilliant as the Doctor in this adventure, as we find out what he has been up to all this time from being absent in the previous two stories (apart from doing ‘The Hobbit‘ film trilogy). It turns out that the Doctor knew of Fenric’s shadow all along as far back from ‘The Magic Mousetrap’.
Sophie Aldred is amazing as Ace. I like how Sophie balances the roughness of Ace with the carefree attitude. Ace finds herself back in Perivale when she confronts Fenric. She has ‘faith’ in her Nitro-9, which she uses against the Haemovores. She’s so pleased to see the Doctor, but has words for him.
Philip Olivier is superb as Hex and this proves a significant adventure for him. Hex’s name is unfortunate as it translates as ‘curse’. That’s not good in Fenric’s case. Hex’s wound from ‘The Angel of Scutari’ bites back on him and it turns out that the Doctor didn’t heal him during ‘Project: Destiny’.
Maggie O’Neill is great as Lysandra Aristedes. Lysandra continues to be the sharp; forthright person who takes charge when she and Sally have an adventure. Both Lysandra and Sally get caught in a time-storm by Fenric and also witness a bleak future where Lysandra is brutally interrogated by Sally.
Amy Pemberton is ever lovely as Sally Morgan. Sally’s compassion shines throughout when she’s younger, but it was interesting when she sees her future self being cruel to Lysandra. She’s shocked that she destroyed the world and Sally’s phobia from ‘House of Blue Fire’ get to resurface in this tale.
The guest cast includes Blake Ritson as Hurmzid. Blake has been in some Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’ and has starred in the ITV version of ‘Mansfield Park’ with Billie Piper. Hurmzid is the prince of Persia who the Doctor, Ace and Hex meet in Fenric’s land. He looks for his father in this strange land.
Gus Brown guest stars as Weyland, Fenric’s opponent in this. Gus portrays a different interpretation of Weyland compared to Michael Kilgarriff’s version in ‘The Moon Stallion’. This Weyland is crueller and so dangerous since he uses people like Sally; Lysandra and Hex as pawns in his game with Fenric.
Elizabeth Bennett returns as Peggy Marsden from ‘Protect and Survive’ in this. I was surprised Peggy came back and I wondered where her husband Alfred was. Peggy is working for Weyland and wants her husband back if she gives him his spear. Will Weyland fulfil that part of the bargain with Peggy?!
The Haemovores return to do Fenric’s biddings. Listening to these vampire-zombies again was so disturbing, as they were described in their bulbous blue heads. I don’t think the Haemovores have a huge impact on the story as they don’t bite people and hunger for blood from ‘The Curse of Fenric’.
Tim Treloar guest stars as the Ancient One, who is the big Haemovoroe that was featured in ‘The Curse of Fenric’. Tim delivers an eerie and amazing performance as the Ancient One sounding like him in the original TV story. He gets used as a pawn by Fenric in a game and is connected to Hurmzid
There are lots of twists; reveals and connections to previous stories that will startle listeners familiar with ‘Doctor Who’ lore. Firstly, the Forge’s origins are more than they seem as it was created by Weyland and it turns out Fenric had in mind to use Ray from ‘Delta and the Bannerman’ as his pawn.
This story ends on a tragic note as Hex, who gets possessed by Fenric, makes a huge sacrifice to save his friends. He gets sucked out into the time vortex and takes Fenric with him. This was a shock and very heart-breaking to listen to. Ace is upset and angry when this happens as she clearly loved Hex.
But it turns out that Hex may not be dead at all. In a post-titles sequence, Hex finds himself playing a game with Fenric and Weyland in their domain. This could mean that Hex will return. Who knows? What will happen next? I hope Hex will come back as it would be unfair to end his story on that note.
‘Gods and Monsters’ is a terrific finale to this series of stories with the Seventh Doctor. It was gripping and terrifying to listen to. I wonder what will happen next and hope that Hex will be alright. These Seventh Doctor audios have been great to listen to and I’m pleased that I’ve now heard them.
The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 1, there is a suite of incidental music to enjoy. At the end of Disc 2, there is a trailer for ‘The Burning Prince’ with Peter Davison. There are also behind-the-scenes cast and crew interviews including Sylvester McCoy; Sophie Aldred; Phillip Oliver; etc.
If you subscribe to Big Finish for ‘Gods and Monsters’ via a 6 or 12 CD/Download subscription, you’ll get the following extras. There is a PDF script and extended extras of ‘Gods and Monsters’. There’s also a bonus Short Trip called ‘A Room With No View’ with the Fifth Doctor, read by Stephen Critchlow.
‘Gods and Monsters’ rating – 8/10
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