Big Finish number 19 - Minuet in Hell by Alan W. Lear and Gary Russell, directed by Nicholas Briggs.
The last in the initial Eighth Doctor mini-series and it is another weird coincidence caused by the strange order I am listening to all my Big Finish because this shares some similarities with The Magic Mousetrap. Once again the traditional format is set aside and we are plunged straight into three separate story strands. Charley Pollard is having problems with her memory and finds herself as well let's say a hostess in an American version of the Hellfire Club. Meanwhile Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart is on an undercover mission to investigate a rogue American politician and the strange machine he is using to launch his bid for the White House.
And the Doctor? Well he is an inmate in a secure psychiatric facility and is having even worse problems with his memory. And his cell-mate, a man called Gideon Crane, claims that he is really the Doctor and that somehow their personalities have been merged. Add in a female vampire hunter reminiscent of Buffy, plus a Demon who apparently has been summoned from Hell, and there is plenty to bring the story to a rolling boil.
So there is an awful lot going on here and it does take some time for all the strands to come together. There are two problems with this, firstly the Doctor isn't really himself for most of the story. And secondly we get an awful lot of American accents, and southern American accents at that. I go on about accents a lot on this blog but they bother me, and I say that in the full knowledge that I cannot do any different accents myself and my own limited attempts at radio acting were truly terrible. I know they are hard to do properly but if they are just slightly off then they stand out and take me out of the story. The script doesn't help as there is an awful lot of mumbo-jumbo psycho-babble going on.
The main leads' performances are all fine but it is a shame that Nicholas Courtney has to spend so much time narrating the emails he is sending back to base, which is a slightly clumsy trick the writers use to explain what is going on. On the other hand the confusion between the Doctor and Gideon Crane works better in audio drama than it would on television where the visual appearance of the actors would give things away (unless there has been some mind-swap device set up in advance). And it allows Nicholas Briggs to play the Doctor which is rather lovely.
Sword of Orion remains my favourite from the original Eighth and Charley series.
Minuet in Hell gets 3 out of 5 psionic interfaces. Next up will be some Gods and Monsters.