The Doctor and Lucie arrive in Germany in 1827, just in time to find the wreckage of a coach, its passengers wounded or dead and its horses literally torn to pieces. One of the passengers is dazed, but not actually hurt; this man is introduced as Baron Teufel, obviously a lucky survivor of whatever happened. Naturally, the local constabulary believes that the Doctor and Lucie are the most likely suspects, though the Baron blames the incident on the legendary beast of Orlok, a piece of local folklore. As the Doctor tries to get to the bottom of the attack, which clearly shows signs of a power beyond current human technology, Lucie teams up with a particularly bright philosophy student and does some investigating of her own. The Doctor finds a lab loaded with technology beyond the 19th century, and discovers the Baron is behind it… and the Baron also somehow knows that the Doctor is a Time Lord.
Cast: Paul McGann (The Doctor), Sheridan Smith (Lucie Miller), Miriam Margolyes (Frau Tod), Samuel Barnett (Hans), Peter Guinness (Baron Teufel), Nick Wilton (Otto Pausbacken), Trevor Cooper (Judah), Alison Thea-Skot (Greta), Nicholas Briggs (Lugner)
Timeline: after Hothouse and before Wirrn Dawn
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: After Orbis and Hothouse, The Beast Of Orlok gets the eighth Doctor adventures back on track in considerable style, with a fresh setting (at least by Doctor Who standards) and some surprisingly topical dialogue that doesn’t feel like an anachronistic modern touch.
The topical element is more background color than foreground story, but it’s interesting to hear one of the characters complaining about the local lawmen keeping everyone whipped up into a constant state of “emergency” for the sole purpose of passing laws that deliver more and more power into their hands. Again, this doesn’t really affect the story at all, it just informs the mindset of one particular character, and it’s a surprisingly topical jab for Big Finish, which is normally a bit less topical than the TV series.
Orlok gets even more interesting at the end of part one, at which point the seemingly even playing field is disrupted by a character who knows exactly who and what the Doctor is, despite apparently being a local. Though it’s not exactly spelled out, the implication is that we’re also seeing the origins of the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel, complete with an “oven” that they have to brave. This aspect of the story isn’t exactly hammered into the listener’s head – it’s a very subtle hint that shows a little bit of respect for the listener’s intelligence.
Overall, a nice original romp with plenty of action and intrigue.