Minuet in Hell (2001)

Minuet in Hell is the final story in Paul McGann’s first season as the Doctor. This is perhaps the epic story that it should. The stories that have formed this season have been mixed in terms of quality. Alan W.Lear & Gary Russell have shared responsibilities for writing this story that sees the return of Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart after his initial appearance in The Spectre of Lanyon Moor in 2000. The story is set in the US sometime in the near future and the Eighth Doctor finds himself in a medical institute which is technically a mental institute. Charley also has troubles of her own. She is suffering from amnesia.

When you ask fans to list 10 things about Doctor Who then the Brigadier is usually in there. The charming appeal of the character as played by Nicholas Courtney since 1968 is a main reason why I enjoyed The Spectre of Lanyon Moor so much. Likewise in this story its one of the few plus points going. He has a better story in this one than Spectre. Without the Doctor it’s left to the Brigadier to move the plot forward. I’m glad that Lear decided that it should be an older wiser Brigadier that we encounter here as opposed to a soldier that we would expect during the Pertwee years.

McGann and Fisher are ok in this story. Unfortunately they suffer from a weak script that seems to go too far into dark and gothic storytelling for my likening. Both do a good job in their respective plots. However it is Nicholas Courtney who steals the show because he has more to do and is just a joy to listen to. I have an issue with this story and it is where did the inspiration come from for the idea of Charley being forced to don leather fetish gear and work in a whorehouse! I don’t wish to sound like a prude but I don’t think this sort of thing belongs in a Doctor Who story.

The story unfortunately is a bit dull for my liking. After great stories like Storm Warning and Sword of Orion it was a shame that this story was allowed to make it into production. Whilst there was slightly more going on than in The Stones of Venice I don’t think that Minuet is a fitting season finale. Here’s hoping that when the Eighth Doctor returns that it will get back to the standards and dizzy heights of Sword of Orion or Storm Warning.

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