The Lovecraft Invasion is destined to be known as the Big Finish Doctor Who story that had to be delayed. As far as we know this was to ensure the messaging around Lovecraft was clear. His racist views are abhorrent and (with extra lines here and there) Big Finish makes its position in this regard clear. Released a month late, the story finds the Sixth Doctor, Flip, Constance Clarke and new companion (perhaps?) Calypso Jonze saving the world. The foe? The dark imagination of HP Lovecraft.
Meanwhile in the 51st century… The Somnifax!
Last time we spent time with this TARDIS team, they were dealing with World War 2 in Scorched Earth; now they are rushing for the TARDIS ahead of an explosion. They are in our future with Calypso Jonze (Robyn Holdaway) chasing the mind-parasite known as the Somnifax. It’s a disorienting beginning, and we hope we aren’t the only ones who thought we’d missed an episode. By starting at the very end of a previous (and untold) adventure, we skip all the intros and get on with this story. Not a moment too soon as the parasite has rushed into Earth’ past…
1937, Providence, Rhode Island. Lovecraft!
USA 1937 is the setting for the bulk of the story. The Somnifax is inside Lovecraft, waiting for the chance to bring horror to the world. Calypso can hold it in place for a while, but someone must enter Lovecraft’s mind to seek it out and defeat it. Cue the Doctor and Flip. Anyone whose ever enjoyed and RPG will enjoy how Flip’s passing knowledge of gaming makes her best placed to help. It’s up to Constance (Miranda Raison) and Calypso to babysit Lovecraft, avoid telling him too much of the future and wait. This device allows for the Doctor and Flip to explore the nightmare fiction of Lovecraft, though rather reconciles the others to sitting around. There’s some plot with Lovecraft causing trouble but we felt it was undeveloped.
The same can not be said of the nightmare world of the Necronomicon and Cthulhu. Cue several discs of unearthly gods, monsters, dark magic and other horrors. The introduction of Randolph Carter, the author’s alter ego in his stories brings a layer to the story we liked. Alan Marriott played both Carter and Lovecraft, doing a great job in keeping the two characters distinct to the ear. Scott Handcock also warrants credit for his direction.
We have magic ceremonies, historical figures, high stakes encounters with monsters and cleverness from the Doctor. Everything you want from Doctor Who.
The Lovecraft Invasion is packed with imagination, but we found it uneven in its treatment of characters. The Doctor’s position regarding Lovecraft and racism is clear, but we’d have preferred more of this exhibited in the man’s behaviour. It’s all taken as known, not reinforced by events. The separation of companions led to Constance having comparatively little to do, though did allow Lisa Greenwood to shine as Flip, and Colin Baker is as good as ever. Calypso Jonze intrigues, and it would be interesting to hear more of Jonze in future releases. There’s plenty for the imagination, and familiarity with Lovecraft’s work might enhance the listening. It’s a solid story, and available now on the Big Finish site.
Extras include the usual behind the scenes interviews.