Big Finish Folly, Part 74 – The Holy Terror, by Robert Shearman
In a dank, Gormenghastian castle, the old order has at last fallen, and now a new king – and a new god – must be installed. But the rising star is a reluctant deity, and only a miracle can save him from the wrath of an angry crowd. Enter, of course, a mysterious blue box.
And so the Doctor and Frobisher must unravel the puzzle behind this peculiar closed world, before the terror lurking in the cellars emerges to consume them all…
All hail the big talking bird!
Adventuring with Frobisher aboard the Tardis was never going to be a straight-forward, outwit-the-tincans-and-set-the-world-to-rights affair. No, with a talking penguin on the team, events were always going to go a bit further afield than that. With a talking penguin in tow, you can do things that possibly you couldn’t do with Peri (oi, no giggling at the back…).
So while Frobisher is a distinctly comic-book creation, The Holy Terror works extremely well with him in it. Shearman’s script is as darkly serious as it is absurd: Eugene Tacitus’s focus on pointless minutiae, against his hidden depths; Peppin’s hopeless lack of confidence against his unbreakable faith in his cruel mother; Clovis’s helpless railing against his predestined behaviour – all of them, as well as the total absurdity of the castle’s traditions, combine to make bloody points about the stupidity of religious dogma. Not something that the TV show would easily have gotten away with, but here it’s an early sign (this was originally released in 2000!) of Big Finish’s ambition.
It would be good to hear, one day, further adventures with Frobisher. As it is, this and the Maltese Penguin are the penguin’s only entries in the audio canon.