Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Maltese Penguin

Technically, this CD shouldn't be included in my reviews. I try to stick with the monthly releases only (when I can bother to remember this blog exists), but given this single CD title was given the number 33 and 1/2, I include it in the section of the CD case that contains the monthlies. This title was given away free with Doctor Who Magazine back in July of 2002. Back in the 2003-2004 time frame when I was gobbling up Big Finish for the first time, I was very excited to hear this one. It features Colin Baker's Doctor (already at this point becoming a favorite for me), Frobisher, and was written by Rob Shearman. The last time we were served up this combination, we got the completely awesome "Holy Terror", so needless to say, I has high expectations.

Well, let's cut to the chase - this isn't nearly as good. If you don't believe me, just ask Rob Shearman, who calls this the worst thing he wrote for Big Finish. Ouch! (I disagree by the way. He's written worse. Ouch, again!) Shearman thinks it's a funnier script on paper than for an audio play. I think it's more amusing than funny, but I think he's a bit too harsh in his criticism of this. This story is a cute satire on the old film noir, hard boiled detective stories. Frobisher is the star of the story, and the Doctor only shows up at a few points in the story (while still managing to save the day). However, that doesn't mean you don't hear a lot of Colin Baker - quite the contrary!

Robert Jezek returns to play Frobisher, but for the most part, he serves as Frobisher narrating the story in the aforementioned film noir style. In a funny twist, the shape changing Frobisher actually spends most of the story in the form of ... the Doctor. So, we trade Jezek's unconvincing New York accent for Colin Baker's (hopefully intentionally) even less convincing New York accent! Actually, Colin is a lot of fun as Frobisher.

Most of the humor comes from laughing at the cliches of the genre and the story's silly over the top characters. Most of my enjoyment of this story comes from the moments the Doctor shows up in the story to see if Frobisher is ready to return traveling in the TARDIS. (Frobisher, is busy proving he can survive without the Doctor in his day job as a private detective.) It's really quite sweet for the Doctor to keep showing up and warmly greeting Frobisher. It's clear the Doctor is lonely and misses his friend. This is such a sweet development for the 6th Doctor and would be unbelievable to imagine the TV version of this Doctor doing this.

So, while there are a few chuckles, it's not really a hilarious story. Thankfully, this isn't dragged out across two CDs or my opinion would probably be much lower. Really, this is a harmless bit of silly fun. It's actually a nice change of pace between the epic finale of "Neverland" and before the incredible, but doom laden "Spare Parts".

Rating: OK

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