Saturday, March 19, 2016

Loups-Garoux by: Marc Platt directed by: Nicholas Pegg: Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

Loups-Garoux stars Peter Davison as the Doctor and Mark Strickson as Turlough.  It was written by Marc Platt, directed by Nicholas Pegg and released in May 2001 by Big Finish Productions.


Marc Platt is one of my favorite Doctor Who writers, writing only one television story that is criminally underrated, but writing the final Seventh Doctor Virgin New Adventure and continuing to write to this day for Big Finish Productions, his contributions to the Doctor Who universe has been large as he’s outlined Gallifreyean society and nearly always given us great stories to sink our teeth into.  His first Big Finish audio drama is no exception to this as Loups-Garoux is an audio that puts the Doctor for once in a place of near neutrality between the two factions of the story.  Now if you don’t speak French you won’t get the twist of the title as in French loups-garous is the word for werewolves.  Yes this is Doctor Who vs. Werewolves which doesn’t sound like that interesting of a premise.  That compiled with the fact it’s a Fifth Doctor and Turlough story there isn’t much confidence for this story to excel with the exception of the writer’s caliber.


The plot instead is something completely different with the Doctor and Turlough both getting some of their best characterization.  The story involves the two arriving in Brazil in 2080 for the Carnival celebration where a rich old woman, Illeana de Santos, is going to transport her son into the countryside as he has fallen ill.  It is eventually revealed that de Santos and her son are the leaders of a group of werewolves running away from the immortal Peter Stubbe.  There is also a native tribeswoman, Rosa, who is trying to prove herself for her tribe.  Oh and she has a forest in her head.  Yeah, Platt is not one for standard stories and this one can only be described as trippy as hell as everything is very abnormal in structure.  The Doctor is made to help with de Santos’ son and de Santos starts to have feelings for the Doctor who while never really reciprocating, he doesn’t want her to die going so far as challenging Stubbe to the death so that he can save her and her son.  Platt is giving this plot his all and infuses it with some extremely complex characters to just increase the tension.


Starting with our villain, Peter Stubbe played brilliantly by Niky Henson, who is the weakest character as the power hungry and almost sex crazed.  Stubbe is the original werewolf who has had a past relationship with Illeana and wants to get back with her now that her husband is dead.  He becomes extremely jealous when the Doctor enters the picture.  His character is the most one note but Henson gives such a chilling performance the story is much more bearable.  I honestly get chills from his voice alone.  Next is Dr. Hayashi, played by Burt Kwouk, who is the Japanese doctor Illeana has decided to bring in to help with her son.  Hayashi is a scumbag and a racist who wants to cure the werewolves as they’re different from normal people.  He gets everything he deserves in the end which is a great allegory.  He is working as a double agent as he is also a very greedy man.



Illeana de Santos is the highlight member of the supporting cast.  She is played by Eleanor Bron who has cameoed in City of Death.  She plays Illeana as a motherly figure who is also looking for love, but still wants the best for her son.  She becomes smitten with the Doctor, yet also has an extreme dark side that emerges on several occasions as she is a werewolf.  Peter Davison and Eleanor Bron share remarkable chemistry through the course of the audio as the Doctor isn’t in love, but is still sympathetic to their plight and wants to help.  The Doctor in this story becomes neutral to the main argument as if werewolves are good or evil as they are a lot like humanity in they can do it.  Davison’s performance in this is on point and makes me love his Doctor more than I ever did on television.  Something similar happens to Turlough, who actually gets to return to the character seen in Mawdryn Undead and Terminus as the alien who will do anything to get what he wants.  While he doesn’t try to kill anyone he is extremely arrogant as he should be and actually develops as he is put down once he is shown the darkness inside himself.  His arc continues with his interactions with Rosa who teaches him.


The story also has a few problems as the pacing is a bit off for its cliffhangers.  This is the first time Platt has written a four part story which is apparent as the cliffhanger to Part Two is really badly paced.  The villain is also weak and the acting from Mark Strickson as Turlough has a few moments which come across as extremely squeaky and it has problems.


To summarize, Loups-Garoux is hands down an example of how good Marc Platt is as a writer with very few problems as there are some weak characters and a few pacing problems.  I can recommend this to anyone who wants to see a Doctor Who story that does something different with an honestly old idea.  87/100

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