Kieran Brennan continues his journey through the second series of the Eighth Doctor and Lucie’s adventures with Max Warp!
The Doctor and Lucie arrive at an intergalactic space cruiser show, filled with fast ships, energetic hosts and, of course, the simmering tension of two species on the brink of war. Things soon take a turn when an unfortunate accident leads to a driver’s death, and the Doctor begins to believe there may be foul play afoot…
To simply pitch Max Warp to you, think Top Gear in space, with an intriguing and fun Agatha Christie mystery piled on top. That’s where Max Warp absolutely excels: it’s funny. Now, maybe it’s a coincidence this story was released so close to the comedy of Human Resources, but I think maybe the producers have realized just how funny Paul McGann can be, especially when paired with a good script full of fun ideas. I can only hope this is a sign of the future of this range as, although most of the stories so far have certainly been fun, there have only been two thus far that can be called outright funny. I feel like, as a whole, Doctor Who media has shied away from outwardly comedic stories in favour of more serious ones, and while I’m aware this story is close to 15 years old, it’s still quite refreshing to listen to in 2022 for the first time.
What sells the whole thing however, is the commitment to both the Top Gear and murder mystery elements. Both are played relatively straight and work with each other surprisingly well. Murder mysteries in Doctor Who have been done before, but a sci-fi version of Top Gear released at the height of its popularity feels original; I really can’t say i’ve seen or heard anything riffing on Top Gear like this before.
Also carrying the story is the stellar cast. To repeat what almost doesn’t need to be repeated once again, Paul McGann and Sheridan Smith are excellent as usual. It seems Smith in particular has grown further into her role this series and is more comfortable in the shoes of Lucie Miller this time around. The guest cast are also super fun, particularly Graeme Garden who plays Geoffrey Vantage, the host of the Max Warp show.
With a fun premise, a witty script and some great performances, Max Warp stands out not only in the Eighth Doctor Adventures range but in Doctor Who as a whole as a downright funny comedy story.
Max Warp is available a download from http://www.bigfinish.com