Doctor Who: Loups-Garoux [Big Finish]

I actually finished listening to Loups-Garoux, starring Peter Davison as the 5th Doctor, some months ago, I think while I was on a long bus ride across the Nepali countryside.  It was diverting and entertaining, and was an enjoyable way to pass the time – and as such, was overall a better effort than the last few Big Finish offerings I have listened to (as you can read here or here) and certainly better than the last Peter Davison story that I heard (here).

Normally I’m not a big fan of werewolf stories, but one feels that most things are on the table in the wacky world of Doctor Who (although here they are apparently drawing from a real historical figure who was accused of being a werewolf, and if the reports are to be believed, was certainly a deranged and unsavory figure).  Generally, the werewolves of Loups-Garoux are treated as simply other creatures that have lived on earth for a long time, most of the time remaining hidden – sort of like the Silurians.  Even though most of them (one presumes) are actually “converted” humans, they seem to consider themselves a different species.

The creatures also have the power to cloud men’s minds (like the Shadow, I guess), which they sometime use to terrorize the “inferior humans”.  This gives Mark Strickson ample opportunity to play a terrified Turlough, which he excels at.  Turlough also gets to be romantic in the story, hooking up with the extremely weird (and weirdly accented) Rosa, a survivor from her South American tribe with a bone to pick against the werewolves.

The Doctor gets to get a little romantic as well, with Ileana de Santos.  She’s the story’s lead guest character and the leader of the broader werewolf family.  The Doctor is somewhat befuddled and  perplexed by the whole process, which is appropriate for the classic series.  And of course, in the end, it goes nowhere, but we knew that, right?

Peter Davison is very strong as the Doctor, delivering a voice performance consistent in quality with his days on the series.  Mark Strickson is also good as Turlough, although he doesn’t really sound like a kid anymore.  The rest of the interesting cast includes Eleanor Bron as Ileana de Santos, who believably pulls off howling at the moon (no mean feat) and Burt Kwouk, best known for playing Cato in the Pink Panther movies.  I realize he also appeared with Peter Davison on Doctor Who previously, in Four to Doomsday.

The story itself, as I’ve said, is entertaining, and offers an interesting view into a hypothetical “werewolf culture”, which sort of a feels like a foppish elite who serve little practical purpose in society.  The script gives the regulars some interesting character moments, and pulls off well a menace that is simultaneously physical and psychological.  A good effort, although the climax is a little muddy.

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