This year’s Sixth Doctor trilogy concludes with Harry Houdini’s War, written by Steve Lyons. Both Memories of a Tyrant and Emissary of the Daleks were top-tier releases, so will this story make it a hat trick? Read on to find out!
The first thing that struck me about this story was its incredible pacing. We’re thrown right into the story, with the Doctor (Colin Baker) coming to fetch Harry Houdini to help him rescue Peri (Nicola Bryant) from a group of Central Powers spies. The circumstances that lead up to this moment are revealed bit-by-bit throughout the story, leading to some great mystery and tension throughout.
The plot of this story is delightfully straightforward, playing out like an action movie with scene after scene of adventure and excitement. There are a few great twists that really elevate the script, with things that initially seem like errors actually turning out to be vitally important to the story. Be sure to keep an ear out for a certain piece of music which hints early on that things are not as they seem…
John Schwab stars as Houdini, and what a performance! Not only does Schwab steal the whole story, but his energetic, characterful performance is possibly the best I’ve heard from Big Finish this year. After this, I hope we get to hear lots more from Houdini, especially given the mentions of him having met other Doctors in the past.
The villain of the piece is Fiona Bruce‘s Helga, a multifaceted character whose motivations are delightfully ambiguous. Her rapport with Baker is excellent, and her storyline both unique and interesting.
Joe Meiners‘ sound design and music are on top form here, the highlights being the plane chase at the end of part two and the varied musical score. The entire production is top-notch, owing to Ken Bentley‘s slick direction, and the superb performances given by all the cast.
Harry Houdini’s War is not only the best story in the trilogy, but the best Monthly Range release this year! With great performances from Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant, a barnstorming turn from John Schwab as Houdini and incredible sound design from Joe Meiners, this story is an all-round success. Thoroughly recommended.
Harry Houdini’s War is available on CD or as a download from http://www.bigfinish.com
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