After last week’s quite wonderful cliffhanger I downloaded Part 2 of Hothouse with a touch of trepidation. I feared that the episode wouldn’t live up to the high standard of what had gone before. Luckily my worries were laid to rest within the first few minutes as this delightful romp (and yes, I do mean that in a non ironic way) had me glued to my earphones.
Lucie (Sheridan Smith) has been captured by mental environmentalist Alex Marlow (Nigel Planer) and is primed and ready to be infected with Krynoid juice. The Doctor has no choice but to co-operate with Marlow to save his companion, but at what cost?
If there is a difference between this part and the first instalment then that’s the humour level which has been upped a tad. Planer is given the green light to just “go for it” with his character which makes this more like 1970’s Doctor Who than anything Big Finish has done before. Even down to crazy megalomaniac one-liners which Planer delivers with more relish than Burger King working overtime. But underneath the outlandish fun there’s a dark streak running below the hi-jinks, which makes some of the opening scenes slightly disturbing.
The episode returns Doctor number eight back into his usual character, away from the Pertwee infused variation that inhabited Part 1. McGann whispers and chats to himself, allowing his conscience and thoughts to carry the plot with strong momentum. Firm support comes in the form of Lysette Anthony; this lady can even vomit and still retain a posh tone. Here she has more to do than the first part and adds a smart touch of class to the story. Scriptwriter Jonathan Morris hammers home the ecological message with subtly and care, using words instead of elaborate sound effects to get his ideas across.
Moving into the final fifteen minutes, tension builds into a dramatic showdown that’s not as predictable as you’d expect it to be. When the first Krynoid begins to talk it will send a shiver down your spine. Less is more here and it works a treat. Lucie is back in ballsy mode, but not too over bearing; Sheridan Smith reins the character in but does permit the odd sarcastic swipe at certain predicaments our heroes encounter. “Death by salad” is one of my favourite lines of hers. Though there are moments of serendipity for the Doctor, such as tools for escape being easily at hand, they don’t cheapen the experience.
Do the bad guys get their comeuppance? Well you need to download (or buy in April) to find out, one thing I will tell you is that you won’t be disappointed.
Visit BigFinish.com to purchase and download Hothouse.