Through this recent trilogy of monthly adventures, the Seventh Doctor has reconnected with Mags, the werewolf character first seen in Season 25’s The Greatest Show In The Galaxy. The pair have survived both The Monsters Of Gokroth and Mags’ own ancestors living under The Moons Of Vulpana, but for the final tale they are in an environment rather more familiar – albeit not to Mags – namely, Camden in the early 1990s. Called back to Earth by Ace, after her time travels but still retaining the ability to summon the Doctor if needed, and the trio promptly fall into a rescue mission for a trapped alien.
If the first two tales were of a type, leaning into gothic themes of monsters and castles, this is surprisingly contemporary – not just in its setting, but thanks to an array of 1990s pop culture references, from music lyric quotes to Australian soap operas and the rise of satellite television. Far more than simply temporal local colour, writer Alan Barnes works these elements cleverly into a thoroughly off-beat tale with a killer title. He also makes good use of the location, providing a visits both to the Doctor’s house on Allen Road in Kent (from the DWM comic strip and Virgin New Adventures books), as well as his place on Baker Street, which has popped up across countless audio stories.
Although Ace is supposed to be older here, even eschewing that moniker at first, we found little difference between Sophie Aldred’s regular TARDIS-travelling characterisation and this version; Ace’s timeline though the various spin-off media stories is so twisted, perhaps easier not to think too hard about it! Not that we are complaining at her presence as Ace alters the dynamic and it was pleasing to hear the interaction between her and Mags – with the former putting her foot in it on occasion.
While the previous two stories seemed to have Sylvester McCoy pitching his Doctor as little darker, later on in his incarnation, the material here calls back to the clownish, with the return of both the infamous spoons as well as balloon animals.
Fresh and funny, belying its dark heart, this monstrous trilogy ends on a quirky note with a tale full of twists and turns. Across the three, we have heard Mags afforded some opportunity for growth as she battles with her inner wolf, as well as being granted some seeds of a backstory and it has been great to hear Jessica Martin flesh out the, frankly, pretty thin original character, who was one of a number in Greatest Show but ripe with potential. However, it still feels as though there are plenty more places for her to go, both emotionally and in the TARDIS, so fingers crossed for more stories with her.