Review by Doctor Squee (Host of Gallifrey Stands Podcast)
Rufus Hound as the Meddling Monk, James Goss writing and directed by Lisa Bowerman. Be still my beating hearts! And this story does not let you down on any front.
The Monk is giving a speech and slideshow to the Darkon corporation on how to successfully invade a planet and avoid the pitfalls that any invading force can easily find themselves faced with. The Monk for instance keeps on having problems with a fellow Timelord in his 4th incarnation and his two companions Sarah-Jane & Harry. Through his speech he gives examples of how the Doctor hasprevented his attempts to take over the Earth and the lessons he has learnt that can be avoided; so you can be sipping a cup of tea whilst enslaving the populace.
This script is full of some real gems. The idea of letting The Monk in front of an audience is perfect for both the character and Rufus Hound who savours every last syllable. He has already been painted in Big Finish as an arrogant toff type (The Monk, not Rufus) so it really fits to have him talk like a colonialist on how best to control the natives. The stories within the story are fabulous as well. They all give a different type of invasion the Monk has tried his hand at. Sometimes going for a land grab; other times trying to enslave through popularity so people don’t notice you gathering power. Even in these stories the Doctor is really a very secondary character, giving the Monk time to take centre stage. It’s really a wonder this story is only 35 minutes, as it feels like you are given a full meal of a story.
Direction by Lisa Bowerman is great. I wonder if she had much she needed to do on this one however, as when you have Hound and Goss as a one/two punch I might tend to believe the best thing it just to let the magic happen and maybe just steer minimally; but recognising that in itself is a great skill for a director.
There is definitely a Douglas Adams feel to this story. Goss even slips in a book referenced by ‘The Hitchhikers Guide’ that you can look out for. It gives it a nice feel of classic Who, with some really nice contemporary humour to it.
I give this 10/10 invading forces.
You can download it here: https://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/how-to-win-planets-and-influence-people-1358
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