The Wishing Beast & The Vanity Box (2007)

The Wishing Beast and the Vanity Box is the latest release to have the three plus one treatment which I am not a fan of. I am still convinced that this format isn’t going to be worthwhile but I have to admit that it’s the three episodes that help me decide whether a release is any good. The previous release I.D & Exotron have been great stories but were let down slightly by the single releases. This story has been written by Paul Magrs who has written for Big Finish Doctor Who in the past. Most notably Horror of Glam Rock, The Stones of Venice and The Wormery.

The latest release sees the sixth Doctor and Mel team up. It’s the first time that we have had a Sixth Doctor and Mel story since Thicker Than Water back in September 2005. The story was an enjoyable one because of the casting. Colin Baker and Bonnie Langford worked very well as did Jean Marsh who everyone knows as Sara Kingdom in The Daleks Masterplan (1965/66) and as Morgaine in Battlefield (1989) plays Maria, in fact she sounded more like Morgaine. It was great to hear Jean Marsh because she has that voice that sounds superb but also sounds effortless. Geraldine Newman was very good as Eliza, she seemed to be a humorous opposite to Maria. But they managed to sound like a good double act. Sean Connolly is really good as the Ghost and Mildrew. Both characters were well acted and sounded so far different. Toby Sawyer was also good as Daniel and Ghost Brother. Toby Longworth plays The Wishing Beast and he is very good, that is to be expected from Longworth. The Wishing Beast was vital to get right as the story has its name and thanks to Longworth it’s a joy to listen to.

The first episode was very weird because you had the sense that something was dodgy by the weird way that Maria and Eliza were being overly nice to the Doctor and Mel. It was only at the beginning of Episode 2 that it all started to make sense, the idea that Maria & Eliza are trying to con Mel into see The Wishing Beast was a good plot point. The Doctor apparently giving himself up for The Wishing Beast was a big moment because you think that he has a plan. It is always difficult for a writer to keep the momentum in the next story but he has managed to do this with The Wishing Beast. Colin Baker was on top form again with his Doctor in a caring manner and not as humorous as he usually is. Bonnie Langford is also very good as Mel, it’s hard to believe that this is the same Mel that appeared in Paradise Towers. Jean Marsh was brilliant as Maria who was very sinister and very dominating. Overall an enjoyable story that suited Colin Baker and Bonnie Langford very well. The Vanity Box. It was an unusual story that somehow managed to work and its only Colin Baker that could make this work.

This story directly follows The Wishing Beast and in fact this story has a lot to do with that story. The setting wasn’t really the whole point of the story and it is just as well because setting it in the 1960’s in Manchester is the greatest place to put a story. The characters in this story aren’t particularly strong and don’t seem to really have anything to do with the action. My biggest problem was how could Monsieur Coiffure confuse The Doctor with a woman. It was something that was done in Time and the Rani and it was a rubbish and ludicrous plot point then. Colin Baker & Bonnie Langford seem to just have enough to do to justify their roles in the story but it is Toby Longworth who plays Monsieur Coiffure. Longworth follows up his great performance in The Wishing Beast. It is obvious now that these single story releases don’t seem to work. Out of the three that we have had only Urban Myth has been any good. Making their first appearances in this episode are Diana Flacks who plays Nesta which is a ok character that doesn’t really grab me. Neither does the character of Winnie played by Christine Moore. Rachel Laurence does a commendable job as Bessy and the Barmaid. Overall as a full release The Wishing Beast works very well and is enjoyable. The Vanity Box is a let down and is a poor single story. My concerns about the let downs of single part stories were realised with this story. I think that had The Vanity Box been given a bit more time then it would have worked because of some plot padding and character development.

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