The opening scene was very impressive as it was setting the foundations of the Beast. When the Doctor and Lucie arrive in 1827 Germany there is the usual and often funny speech of thinking that they have arrived at Alton Towers but of course they haven’t. There was some good dialogue between the Doctor and Lucie. The speech that the Doctor gives Lucie to show when and where they are was very impressive and was a great example of just how smart this incarnation of the Doctor is. I also liked the opening scene when the Doctor and Lucie land and discuss the LTD button which either stands for Lucie to Drive or Locate the Doctor. These discussions show that their relationship is developing well and is going back to how it use to be.
Paul McGann was playing the Doctor with the cheeky intelligence that we come to expect from him now. His incarnation of the Doctor has benefited greatly from Lucie Miller as he seems to be trying to become the cool Doctor but constantly getting scorned by Miller. Sheridan Smith was continuing to develop well as Miller. Her character has one foot in the classic companion attitude of mocking the Doctor for having a craft that doesn’t go where it intends to (they were supposed to be going to Alton Towers Theme Park) and she also has one foot in the new era of being a companion of being feisty and intelligent. She had managed to cut out a lot of the gobby stuff that first appeared back in Blood of the Daleks (2007) but there is still enough to make her stand out on her own. Miriam Margolyes is the best of the guest stars as Frau Tod. She is always an actress that can be relied upon to give a entertaining performance no matter what is required of her. She is a mother that shows several times in this story just what sort of a woman she is. This was shown when she was telling the story of how she found Hans and Greta and that most people stayed indoors but she ventured out to see what was happening. Samuel Barnett (Hans) and Alison Thea-Skot (Greta) are very good in this story playing children who have grown up believing one thing and then thanks to the events of this story find out something else. They were characters that I found annoying to begin with by when the revelation was revealed they suddenly became nice well rounded characters. Nick Wilton was also very good as Otto Pausbacken (what a great name). Also Trevor Cooper as Judah contributed some good stuff to the story. Also last but by no means least Peter Guinness who played Baron Teufel. Guinness has amased quite a CV starring in such things as The Bill, Casualty and the 2005 BBC Costume drama Bleak House. Also he is married to Roberta Taylor who has appeared in Eastenders and The Bill but also starred in the 2000 play The Holy Terror and more recently the Doctor Who Magazine special release Cuddlesome.
Something I liked and only noticed this in the Extras interview was that not of the actors attempted to do a German accent which is a good thing because often when you get actors to try and do an American accent it is usually a horrible and stereotypical voice which ruins the story and I would listen to Assassin in the Limelight (2008) to see what I mean. Unless you get an actor from that country who can do the accent then you are doomed to fail and so just doing their voices in their normal English doesn’t diminish the characters or the action so it’s a lesson to future directors of Big Finish plays or radio plays in general that you don’t have to do the accent to get people to believe that is where the characters are from.
Barnaby Edwards writes his second story for Big Finish. His previous story was the 2008 story The Bride of Peladon which has similar feelings to The Beast of Orlok. What I like about this story is that it isn’t an alien invasion trying to use Earth as a place to stay until they can launch a war on Mars or Venus or something like that. He has also directed this story which is where Edwards is normally in production terms. He directed a story that kept this ticking along nicely at the beginning but then shifts the action to the cliffhanger and then beyond to the end of the story. I think that is a good thing when writer actually director their stories. Its not always a good thing because the writer has to have a good idea how they want the story to progress and I think in this category at the moment there is only Edwards and Nicholas Briggs who could do this.
Overall I think that this is a superb story that has characters that are well written and whilst some of it may be tongue in cheek (Hans and Greta) there more than enough to enjoy and go back time and time again. Barnaby Edwards has written another good story which even if your not a fan of the eighth Doctor or Lucie you would be hard pressed to find a fault with this story. I think that the story works well in the format of two 25 minutes and I think that it might even have worked in a four story format because there is enough going on that even with a little bit of padding you would still find it enjoyable.