6 October 2012

Manufacturer: Big Finish Productions

Written By: Mike Maddox and Alan Barnes

RRP: £14.99 (CD) / £12.99 (Download)

Release Date: 30th September 2012

Reviewed by: Matthew Davis for Doctor Who Online

Review Posted: 6th October 2012

Arriving in a strange and Hellish landscape, Ace, Hex, Sally and Lysandra have come to rescue the man who unwittingly threw them all together in the first place; The Doctor.

But the rescue will not be easy.

Ancient warriors misplaced out of time are lying dead in rivers of blood and from out of the mists emerge horrifyingly familiar vampire-like creatures. The threads are coming together and the Doctor’s companions come to realise that he has been playing a game; a rematch with an evil from the dawn of time. The past and future will come to haunt them as they become pawns in the endless games of Gods and monsters. 

The pieces are set, the Elder Gods are gathering to bear witness as the Doctor and Fenric prepare to play the contest again. But this time winning may be just the same as losing.

Gods and Monsters is a very difficult play to review. Like Black And White before it, there are so many twists and turns that it would be very easy to spoil your enjoyment. 

It requires not only a great deal of knowledge of the character of Hex but of past stories involving The Forge and The Curse of Fenric. A newcomer to Big Finish may find all this to be quite daunting but rest assured such knowledge is essential to your full enjoyment as this play packs a really emotional and shocking payoff.

Gods And Monsters, the conclusion of this year’s Seventh Doctor range and the final culmination of the many plot threads that have been littered throughout the last few years beginning as far back as Project: Twilight. It seems near impossible that Big Finish could have planned all of this so many years ahead but what they have done is taken everything that has come before, added a few twists and made it all make sense. The play however is not completely perfect, and it’s need to wrap everything up as logically and tightly as possible harms it a little.

Gods And Monsters has many factors that make it a worthwhile recommendation, and the brilliant cast is one of them. Sylvester McCoy, having played a rather reduced role in the previous releases, is back and his performance is spectacular. The master manipulator is completely out of his depth as he begins to see the control of events swept completely away from him. It is a great turning of the tables on this most Machiavellian of Doctors and it will be fascinating to see if Big Finish develops this in future releases.

Ace and Hex are both brought brilliantly to life by Sophie Aldred and Phillip Olivier. The character of Hex is one of the great creations of the Big Finish range and here Olivier proves just what a great contribution he has made to bringing the character to life. 

Maggie O’Neill and Amy Pemberton, having established themselves rather strongly amongst the TARDIS team in Black and White, continue their development throughout Gods And Monsters and are given an excellent scene in which to showcase their talents and the characters relationship to one another.

It was always going to be difficult to recast Fenric, especially in the shadow of Dinsdale Landen, but in John Standing, the Elder God has found a wonderfully chilling new persona. 

It would be easy to just do a retread of The Curse of Fenric, particularly with the inclusion of the Haemovores but Maddox and Barnes play enough with your familiarity of that story to present something new and just as twisted. 

With so many different characters and locations, sometimes in completely different universes and time zones, Gods And Monsters does feel at times a little rushed. The story feels like it needs more room to breathe or at least one more episode to allow all the threads to have equal momentum, but judging by the rather shocking ending it seems the story is far from over.

Mike Maddox and Alan Barnes have created a very worthy rematch with the titular God, as well as a satisfying conclusion to this story arc with the tantalising tease of more shocks to come.

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