Herney, Herney, Herney

Big Finish Folly, Part 58 – Leviathan, by Brian Finch & Paul Finch

Leviathan11th Century Europe: Herne the Hunter chases a young man through the forest – it’s his time to die, and the village priest refuses to give him shelter. And in a cave nearby, a group of homeless pariahs prepare to take the fight to the Baron in his castle, armed with laserbolt crossbows they have stolen from the castle’s soldiers; meanwhile the Baron sits upon his throne and communes with an incorporeal demon that controls Herne. Something is desperately wrong in the state of umm… Denmark? England? Bavaria?… and it’s up to the Doctor to unravel the mystery…

This, the third in the Lost Stories series, is a far better romp than either of the tales preceding it. Messrs Finch make bold use of the play’s two-act structure to create a theatrically brilliant cliffhanger regarding the truth of the village’s existence (and the play’s title). To begin with the medieval European setting feels a little uninspired, but there are clues from very early on that not all is as it seems and the truth is cleverly disguised until the end of the first episode. My own thought was that this was some bizarre version of Westworld, which would have been quite satisfying in itself, but the backstory here is more suitably epic.

The use of Herne the Hunter is also rather clever, as it is very easy to visualise this beast (Robin of Sherwood, anyone?) and it makes an effective enemy. The Baron and Zeron are less effective in this regard – I wound up imagining the Baron as a version of Aiden Gillen’s Littlefinger. Leviathan is a pretty violent play – there’s a lot of laserbow fighting, and the Doctor himself faces down the Baron at swordpoint (and I imagine the experience he gained in The Game in his last incarnation came in rather handy). It fits in with the ethos of the TV series itself at the time, where Doctor Who was being criticised for being overly violent.

This doesn’t feel like a Lost Story in the same way that Mission to Magnus does, and I don’t mean that as a criticism. If anything it has been cleverly adapted so that it would fit into even the modern TV style of storytelling (and the first episode cliffhanger would certainly be worth seeing on the small screen

An excellent yarn, and well worth your time.
****½

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