Review by Michael Goleniewski
‘Alien Werewolf in London’ concludes the Seventh Doctor / Mags trilogy started by ‘Monsters of Gokroth’ and continued in ‘Moons of Vulpana‘ with the pair reunited with Ace in the punk era London of the 1990’s. She’s called the Doctor about a strange estate nearby that has had an odd and rather terrified creature in confinement for a very long time. There is of course a bigger secret surrounding the inhabitants of the mansion itself who all have a nasty little blood-sucking secret hiding behind their perfect exteriors. But the question is: who is the real threat and who is the biggest monster here?
As the finale to a trilogy, ‘Alien Werewolf in London’ has a lot going on, so much so that it often trips over itself working to get everything in. There are subtle and not so subtle hints that things aren’t at all what they seem and it leads to some great surprises while still enveloping you in the time and scope of the setting. The soundscape and direction are also very effective especially in working with the story’s monstrous foes who have some interesting connections back through continuity that are very nice touches. Unfortunately, the plot takes what is on the surface a fairly simple premise and runs in so many directions with it that it struggles in bringing them all together in a coherent way. Alan Barnes’ script rapidly divides the team into three converging storylines which is disappointing given the hype of seeing this team together again and multiple segments are full of long and often confusing speeches of exposition that aren’t as interesting as the story wants them to be. This makes the pacing wonky and sporadic jumping from intense moments of action to drearier moments of dialogue and it never gels together in a satisfying way.
The cast are also a mixed bag though a neat plot twist does give them all a bit more interesting material to work with. McCoy is in strange form with his Doctor slipping a bit more into his goofy Season 24 self rather than his Machiavellian later years. It’s not entirely unwarranted but it does mean his performance isn’t the greatest especially when he’s posing early as an ‘alternative comedian’ which gets annoying very fast. Sophie Aldred’s Ace is herself for better or for worse taking a moderate backseat to the drama even as she serves as the impetus for the main plot and Jessica Martin while still good doesn’t really stand out much either in terms of her conflict and character as Mags. The side cast of monsters and characters is a lot of fun especially in a surprising televised plot element that turns out to be rather amusing. But the weird pacing and all over the place story means that they don’t have much time to register and the climax feels not only a bit anticlimactic but doesn’t really deal with them in a way that feels earned. Things start off well enough at first but after the big split, it rapidly loses your interest the longer it goes and by the end it doesn’t feel like anything has been accomplished especially with the status quo on the TARDIS not having changed in the slightest.
Is it worth being called a bad story per se? Not necessarily. Alan Barnes has written bigger clunkers for Big Finish in his time and there is some enjoyment to be had here if you are invested in it. But at the same time, ‘Alien Werewolf’ is definitely the weakest of the trilogy and a bit of a disappointment considering what was set up in the prior two stories. It’s one that just kind of comes and goes without leaving much of an impact and while it does leave things open to hear more of Seven / Mags in the future, it definitely doesn’t deserve more than a single listen.
6 / 10