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HORNETS' NEST 1 (spoilers?)
Many things went through my mind as I listened to HORNETS' NEST part one. It's great to have Tom Baker back. I'll try to gather the rest of these random thoughts. The story is good and I can't always say that about Paul Magrs. I'm not his biggest fan, nor his greatest detractor. The sci fi aspects are a bit...lost on me to be honest. Tom's voice has changed a bit and he seemed...a bit awkward to be honest. I'm not sure if he liked the story or if he just was awkward because it's been so long. One thing that went through my mind is how odd this story is: stuffed animals attacking people, the Doctor in a regular house in Sussex (?) with a maid (?), especially WRONG for this Doctor if not Tom, and well, how much better BIG FINISH could have made of this story and with this Doctor. Well, Tom's Doc was always traveling around, perhaps more than any other Doctor and for longer and almost always in the Tardis ( I can think of one notable exception in SEEDS OF DOOM) so to see him settle down in a cottage...with stuffed animals and house staff! is strange indeed and it does'nt always ring true. Still if one goes with it as a sort of older Fourth Doctor (and ther'es no reason to go with that idea either, it's really the Fourth Doctor just after Leela leaves it seems), it sort of entertains.
The other strange thing is to have this Doctor with Mike Yates whom he met once in a short story someplace--at the Brig's Christmas party in a SHORT TRIPS short story (possibly by Paul M also). This Doctor and Mike Yates are probably the two most unlike characters in the history of DW Doc/companion pairing and this Doctor is the least likely to summon HIM or anyone from UNIT actually apart from maybe the Brigidier, who was originally supposed to be in this.
Big Finish might have tweaked this better and made it better. The story is not terrible and makes you think but it is also very comic bookish and nothing new. It's an odd story, did I say that? I think that it's strange getting used to the narration of the story by both the Doctor and Mike at various times and the characters seem to contradict themselves (Mike tells the Doc he doesn't mind being attacked or put in danger and then next tells him that he's been dragged into another of his nightmares). I feel that Tom Baker should have accepted Big Finish's request that he do stories with them. I also feel that either they or BBC should have just let Tom Baker go crazy...let him be as Bakerish as he can be and see what happens. Here, he seems restrained and jacketed...and not in a good way. Yes, there are some Tom Bakerisms and some of them are even funny, even very very funny. BUT there's not a whole lot of them. Somehow something kept Tom down and he's not the firery Doctor who is all over the place. He's more like Pertwee's Doctor in some ways but with Bakerism's thrown in. It's not terrible but it's not fantastic like it should be either.
Still, I'm glad they told a smaller story and it's got some horror images that are hard to forget. I still hope the Doctor's dog, YES the Doctor's got a dog---is allright. His name is Captain and Tom calls him Capt in one scene and tells Mike, "Down Captain, no, not you." Which is not funny.
I also kept wondering if a dog and a maid were put in to oblige Tom, which are things he would seem to like in them at this stage of his life. He loves his dog at home nowadays which is great but Captain seems to have no real function in this story as yet. And while the Doctor having a maid is a funny idea, it's not really very in this story.
I also kept wondering why this Doctor, actually any Doctor would want to bother with having a real home. They can be such a nusance. The homes, not the Doctor. If you were the Doctor, would you want one?
The Doc putting a forcefield around his home is a bit...odd, too. And things can come in...but he never says they can't go out. They have to if the milkman is to leave. He calls it semi permeable.
A great deal of this feels forced and a great deal of it feels fresh and new. The presentation is firm enough but strange considering that the sound effects and any of the action sequences would have been better served by Big Finish and an on the spot action rather than narration by either the Doc or Mike.
It's not as bad as it could have been but not as good as it could have been either. HORNETS' NEST brings back Tom Baker to DW but considering he probably should have done audios for Big Finish long ago, perhaps he deserves the smaller, less advantageous approach, for that is certainly what this is. Good but not great.