Audio Drama Review: ‘Missy: Series One’ From Big Finish

by Rachel Bellwoar

Missy: Series One
Directed by Ken Bentley
Starring Michelle Gomez (Missy) and Rufus Hound (The Meddling Monk)
Like any casting change on Doctor Who, Sacha Dhawan’s introduction as the Master last year was met with a wide range of reactions. While the way things were left pointed strongly towards Missy’s death, there was still hope that if the Master did return, she would be bearing Gomez’s face. That didn’t happen, and more than a criticism of Dhawan’s performance, the writing for his Master would mark a disappointing return to the villainy of John Simm’s Master. Missy was a Time Lord you could root for, and not write off as a lost cause, even if she was as capable of murder as the next Master. Thanks to Big Finish, her story isn’t over and with a second volume set to come out in July, now is the time to catch up on series one.

“A Spoonful of Mayhem”
Written by Roy Gill
Missy looking after children – what could go wrong? The Wardens want Missy to learn a lesson but when they told her to get a job, they could’ve spared some consideration for the people she might hurt along the way. That’s the point, though – because of something Missy hasn’t done yet the Wardens are forcing her to live in the 19th century. She’s not allowed to kill or use new technology.
Undercutting this is the fact that the only Warden that appears in this story is Mr. Cosmo (Dan Starkey). The plural makes it sound like there should be others but that’s why the ending of this story feels insufficient, even if the idea itself shows promise.
Missy makes a terrific bad influence on the children and the use of music by Joe Kraemer that resembles “A Spoonful of Sugar” from Mary Poppins is a nice touch. Instead of keeping the children, Oliver (Oliver Clement) and Lucy (Bonnie Kingston), in the dark about Missy, Gill has them realize she’s not on the level from the start. By making them witnesses to how she gets the job as their tutor, Gill gives them all the ammunition they need to convince their father not to hire her. They don’t use it, though, and that decision makes everything that follows more interesting.

“Divorced, Beheaded, Regenerated”
Written by John Dorney
What if Henry XIII had taken Missy to be his lawful, wedded, sixth wife? Who comes out of that relationship with their head? Dorney’s story starts out as a historical but only maintains a cursory interest in the Elizabethan era. Instead the drama comes from throwing the Meddling Monk and Missy together and showing what makes them different. Much like Missy was in Gill’s story, the Meddling Monk is stuck in 16th century England and is trying to get the Time Lords on Gallifrey to notice. Instead he catches Missy’s attention. Neither character puts much stock in preserving the timeline but only one is mad. Will they be able to work together or is this marriage not built to last?

“The Broken Clock”
Written by Nev Fountain
Written and edited like an episode of America’s Most Impossible Killers, some documentary features come naturally to audio, like having a host (Kenneth Jay) provide voiceover narration. Others do not, like dramatized recreations of events, yet that doesn’t stop Fountain from experimenting with genre and form for a story about a series of murders that have taken place. DI Missy Masters (love the name!) is one of the detectives who looks into the deaths. Unlike most documentary episodes of TV shows that aren’t usually filmed in that style, “The Broken Clock” doesn’t wear on listeners. There are a few scenes that feel reminiscent of “The Doctor’s Wife” and the dialogue (especially the lines delivered by Rachel Verkuil as Frankie) gets fantastically hardboiled.

“The Belly of the Beast”
Written by Jonathan Morris
With Missy acting as the overseer of a mine, what could be so important that she has slaves digging 24/7 trying to find it? The claustrophobic setting might not be for every fan, but Morris’ story does show what makes Missy such a generous leading lady: she’ll always create unnecessary drama for herself.
Missy: Series One is available to purchase from Big Finish.The set also includes behind the scenes interviews, where Gomez talks about being cast as the Master and producer, David Richardson, talks about how they recorded the series after Gomez was cast in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

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