Friday, 4 March 2016

Longer version of this review on Starburst.

The Fourth Doctor and Romana really liked their European holidays. In City of Death, one of the most renowned classic Who stories, they ran around Paris gleefully taking in its architecture and culture, occasionally stopping to foil an alien plot. The Labyrinth of Buda Castle, the latest Fourth Doctor audio from Big Finish, takes a lot of inspiration from that serial – this time, the pair take a trip to Budapest, 1980, where a vampire is on the prowl.

From the opening scenes, the City of Death influence is clear. Our two Gallifreyans jog around the city, with the Doctor gushing about how wonderful it all is and Romana being pedantic about his musical quotes. Eddie Robson, one of Big Finish’s best writers when it comes to comedy, provides a lightness and wit reminiscent of Douglas Adams’ writing for the show.

The threat they encounter is less typically alien and more horror-inflected; Mark Bonnar, who recently appeared as unhinged Time Lord the Eleven in Doom Coalition, is quickly becoming Big Finish’s go-to villain, and here, he puts in a very different but equally sinister performance as the unsettlingly misogynistic vampire Zolt├ín Frid. 

The other memorable supporting character is Celia Soames, an enthusiastic vampire hunter on the trail of Frid, whom she believes to be Dracula himself. Having a British detective in the second companion role is a deliberate allusion to City of Death’s Duggan, and yet the secret Celia hides sets her apart as a truly fascinating character, as does the great performance from Being Human’s Kate Bracken. 

The Labyrinth of Buda Castle is a fast-paced adventure that carefully balances its witty charm with its genuinely spooky take on the vampire. Fans of Tom Baker’s Doctor Who won’t be disappointed by this release. 


Post a Comment