If ever there was a Doctor meant to battle a curse of deadly footwear, it had to be Tom Baker’s. He has a connection to those shows in a way, with both with his crazy mixed up scarf and with the impressively entertaining and wacky mind that Tom Baker keeps locked away inside his head.
On first listening, Hornetâ€™s Nest Part 2: The Dead Shoes is a vast improvement over the first installment, for this listener anyway. The narrative is much more fluid and follows one narrator, where as The Stuff of Nightmares felt like it had too many narrators mixed with live action and inner monologue of more than one character.
The live action sequences, while still utilizing too much narration for my personal tastes, also feels more like we are witnessing these events as flashback story telling rather than someone reading a book of events to you.
Richard Franklinâ€™s presence in this story is much less than his involvement in part one, which is a shame as it would be nice to hear Mike Yates (Richard Franklin) get into the alien busting action once again.
On the flip side of that Tom Baker is in top form reprising his most famous role. Much like his fellow audio Doctorâ€™s over at Big Finish, he is giving a much more mature and a slightly different performance to what we are used to from his glory days in the role, but make no mistake, he is just as engaging as Tom Baker has always been. Although, Tom Baker is a hard one to find unappealing no matter what role he plays.
The story also is quite interesting for such a silly idea. A pair of alien shoes that can take over a person? Working under the influence or in conjunction with Hornets? Not sure we would have even seen this on TV, but it really works in this play. But there is more than just the basic story at hand; it has its roots in the grander picture that the five-story arc is spelling out for us. The ideas and facts that we learn about this detour in the Fourth Doctorâ€™s life play out in a perfectly captivating way, making you guess all sorts of theories as to what this evil force is up to. In effect making you become part of the play.
We also learn more about characters set up in The Stuff of Nightmares, such as Mrs. Wibsey (Susan Jameson), the Doctorâ€™s housekeeper. Slowly helping us understand why a Doctor that was free to roam about the universe has saw fit to ground himself to an Earthly home again.
It will be interesting to see what Mikeâ€™s role in all of this will be, but more so that that, it will be a treat to see how Richard Franklin portrays Mikeâ€™s understanding of this role. The Hornetâ€™s Nest series was originally intended for the Brigadier to be the companion character, but sadly he could not commit and plans had to change. Sometimes things have a way of working out better than planned and for me, Mike Yates had a lot of unfinished business and a whole lot of story potential left in him. Richarad Franklinâ€™s casting was a master stroke.
While I would have preferred a fully casted â€œlive actionâ€ adventure with no narration â€“ Such as the Big Finish main range stories â€“ I have to admit that The Dead Shoes does not fail to impress. After this series’ fairly rocky start, Paul Margs has delivered a crazy story that draws you in and has clearly captivated the actors involved with the project as well. Hopefully this is trend continues with the remaining stories in the series.
If you heard a bad review of Part One, or like me, found it to not be all it could have been, do yourself a favor and pick up Hornetâ€™s Nest Part 2: The Dead Shoes. You wonâ€™t be sorry.
The Dead Shoes is out now, and available on Amazon for just Â£5.46!