Review by Doctor Squee (Host of Gallifrey Stands Podcast)
The Doctors, now female, nemesis hits Big Finish in her own set for the first time in this form in a coup for the company and a treat for it’s listeners.
A Spoonful of Mayhem
by Roy Gill
To match her new personas outfit, Missy (Michelle Gomez) is working as a nanny in Victorian London, due to some forces curtailing her footloose and moral free lifestyle. Not the one the master of the house, Montague Davis (Simon Slater) hired for his children, but she seems dedicated to the discipline Oliver (Oliver Clement) and Lucy (Bonnie Kingston) sorely need. Missy feels their education needs more practical lessons out in the real world… at night… in dangers way.
From the first line Gomez is in rare anarchic form and hasn’t missed a beat of her hearts since playing the role on TV, just as in her appearance in River’s boxset last month. It’s a great first story that brings out a lot of the dark comedy of the role. And by leaning into the Mary Poppins parallels we get to explore what happens when a child gets what they wish for by getting an influence that is more carefree and reckless than their Dad and the danger that can follow; especially with Missy involved. Both of the young cast are really good and the young Miss Kingston (Alex’s Niece no less) is given some great material that she delivers perfectly on how young woman were seen at this time versus who they can be when given the opportunity to shine. I won’t go into who he plays, but there’s also a great turn, or 2, by Dan Starkey as well.
Divorced, Beheaded, Regenerated by John Dorney
In Tudor England, Missy has her sights set on marrying King Henry VIII, Who right now Just happens to be the Meddling Monk (Rufus Hound) in disguise. Add aliens after some people worthy of their attention and it’s time to rip up the history books if someone doesn’t blink.
Missy meeting the Monk is one of those moments you listen to Big Finish for. Hound has always been amazing in the role, but pair him up with Missy and your into pure gold territory. They play off each other like a dream; each trying to top the other in character and as wonderful actors. It’s a nice way as well of showing how unique the Monk’s motives are. He is self serving and amoral, but not evil like Missy. If people need to die for his ends, so be it, but he doesn’t actively want that. But both of them together is wonderful chaos. They also explore a little of an interrupted history of one of Henry’s wives Catherine Parr (Maggie Service).
This is just a delight all the way through. It’s not hard to come up with a good story for these two central characters, but Dorney’s script elevates it.
The Broken Clock by Nev Fountain
In tonight’s “Dick Zodiac’s America’s Most Impossible Killers”, we follow a curious case of a clock that goes missing, a stranger with a pointy beard, a quirky detective from Scotland Yard and a trail of unusual deaths.
I must admit to have to begin with not gelled with the idea of a story set like a true crime detective tale. But when the fourth wall starts to bend and break and characters start to question if they are actors recreating real events or people stuck telling their own story then I was drawn in very early on, as clearly was Fountain’s intent. Again we are met with Missy’s playfully sadistic side; including a five minute segment when we break with the story for her to wind someone up about their imminent death, just because she can. The subversiveness of what is done with the format, time itself and the twist at the end makes this a really engaging story throughout and one that has to be heard to appreciate how clever it truly is.
The Belly of the Beast by Jonathan Morris
Aleyna (Abbie Andrew) and her friends keep narrowly avoiding death doing Missy’s bidding, working as her slaves. To survive she will have to rebel. But when she discovers some worrying truths along with the rebels and Missy turns out to be playing a longer game than anyone could imagine, has she survived in any real sense?
In this story, as much as we have some dark fun with Missy along the way, we definitely explore the purely darker, more sadistic side of the character. The hopeless situation and struggle of the people put under the cosh by Missy also puts her laughing at her dark deeds into sharp contrast. The twist at the end that also serves as a wrap up to the whole set is a fitting end till the next one.
This set makes the smart move of allowing us to have more fun with the character at some points and highlighting the evil at others. Both are always present, it’s just the percentages we see. We also get to play the angle that this is the version of the Master that at least at some point, to some degree will be redeemed, so might she have some good in her? I wouldn’t count on it! 10/10.
Buy this set on CD or download here… https://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/missy-series-01-1884