The Elixir of Doom by Paul Magrs reviewed

Elixir of DoomHeld over from 2011 for various reasons the Paul Magrs story The Elixir of Doom is the penultimate release in the Companion Chronicles range. Starring, as you might expect, Katy Manning as both Jo Grant and Iris Wildthyme and Derek Fowlds (Heartbeat).

Expect the unexpected and plenty of gin, red buses and of course a Doctor – but which one?!

The story

Scant description from the Big Finish product page:

Once, Jo Grant travelled in Space and Time with the Doctor. Now, she is travelling with trans-temporal adventuress Iris Wildthyme.

Arriving in Los Angeles in the 1930s, Jo and Iris are caught up in the glamour of Hollywood.

Monster movies are all the rage.

But sometimes monsters are real…

Having said scant this is all you need to know. We don’t really understand why Jo is with Iris (we do through the fourth wall as Katy voices them both) and are quickly thrown back to classic Hollywood where Iris is keen to investigate mysterious happenings  on the set of a horror movie where the monsters are more real than you might hope. On the way she spots a certain velvet jacketed individual who she is keen to keep out of Jo’s way.

As the story unfolds we learn that not only are the monsters the ex-husbands of the central protagonist and they are made so by the so-called elixir. We find out who left the elixir behind and bump into the Eight Doctor who is also tidying up Iris’s mess. All ends well for most but not all characters we care about and Jo goes off for more adventures with Iris that we may never hear.

The story telling

Lots to like and dissect but also many elements I am unsure about. Over on the forum this is more hit than miss; for me as a casual fan of Iris I am not so sure. I do like a lot of Paul Magrs work but not all of it and this failed for me in many ways:

  • Iris seems to have a new back story and cannot regenerate
  • Why is Jo travelling with her
  • She is less combative with the Doctor than she has been (minor gripe)
  • Paul Magrs has written for McGann’s Doctor several times but he was more anonymous in this and I didn’t think it one of Katy’s best voices.

[pullquote]frothy entertainment[/pullquote]

Many bits I liked including the links to the Scarlet Empress. As a piece of frothy entertainment it was fine though the story isn’t a patch on (for example) The Wormery nor did I enjoy it as much as the other Companion Chronicle tale Find and ReplaceMy sense is that Iris fans loved this for me it was fun while it lasted and had some quirks including the ‘spoiler’ that Iris set up at the beginning.

I’d be keen to get some insight into what I’ve missed – please do let me know!

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