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Review of Minuet in Hell by DarthGallifrey

22 May 2024

(Taken from a review I submitted to the Traveling the Vortex podcast | Last Read: Spring 2019)

So, Minuet in Hell. I have a supreme dislike for this story. Really, it’s kinda hard to say why. As a concept, it’s not terrible and it has some good ideas. It’s necessary for completists, both from a collecting standpoint and an Eighth Doctor’s Big Finish run standpoint. I guess there’s just so much little stuff, that I really have a hard time overlooking and therefore enjoying this story. I guess the biggest complaint with this is the subject matter. I’m not a fan of supernatural stories. The Hellfire Club just rubs me the wrong way. Even though the “demons” turn out not to be “demons”, it’s getting there that I don’t like. There are the institute and brain experiments, I don’t mind that. If they’d focused solely on that, I might’ve found this more enjoyable.

The accents are questionable at best, downright offensive at worst. They sound like a cross between Deep South and Texas. The main villain, Brigham Elisha Dashwood III, is played by Robert Jezek (who is better known as the voice of Frobisher) and is a politician gunning for the governorship of the fifty-first state of the union and then hopefully President. While at the same time, feeling like an exaggerated caricature of a Televangelist who’s secretly a devil worshipper. Maybe that’s the most offensive.

The Eighth Doctor gets to meet the Brigadier. Yay! The Brig is really the only saving grace of this story. And it’s a shame that this is the only true meeting between the characters on audio. Yes, both actors will appear in Zagreus, but Nicholas Courtney isn’t really playing the Brig, and the Eighth Doctor is barely himself. Speaking of the Doctor. He spends most of his screentime whimpering with amnesia, a trope that had kinda been overdone with the Eighth Doctor by this point. Meanwhile, Nick Briggs plays Gideon Crane, an unfortunate man who happens to run afoul of the TARDIS and fall under Jackson Lake (see The Next Doctor) syndrome where he thinks he’s the Doctor.

I read the summary found in the Big Finish Companion Volume 1 for this story. It’s not that bad of an idea. The way the plot summary is written makes it sound like something interesting that I’d like to listen to. And yet, actually listening to it, I struggle to get into it. I think that the accents are the biggest offender here. They’re British people trying to be Texan, or southern, or something. The biggest offenders are Dashwood, Becky Lee and the worst being Senator Pickering/Marchosias.

I think this is a story that couldn’t decide what it wanted to be. A political story, a supernatural story, a scientific experiment story, an Eight meets Brig story. It just kinda throws them all into the pot and stirs. It's an adaptation of an old Audio Visuals script as well but majorly shifted in it's time frame (the original was set in 1600s or 1700s England). Oh, and they close out the Ramsey the Vortisaur storyline that’s been hanging around in the background of these first four Eighth Doctor plays and there are a few lines about Charley being dead to further the Web of Time arc. I’ll admit, I didn’t even finish the story this time around. I just couldn’t get into it. It tries so hard and then fails in so many ways.

Review created on 22-05-24, last edited on 22-05-24