Alan Barnes concludes a very enjoyable run of Seventh Doctor and Mags main range stories with An Alien Werewolf in London. Title alone this owes nothing to the film of a similar name, instead it’s a chance for Ace to catch-up with the Doctor. Now living in 1990s London, Ace needs help rescuing an alien held prisoner in a mansion. Of course the Doctor has his own ideas…
An Alien Werewolf… and more!
Where Mags has been centre stage in the previous two stories (Monsters of Gokroth and Moons of Vulpana) Jessica Martin shares the story with both Ace and another alien. Alan Barnes weaves several layers of both contemporary references (pop videos and Australian soaps being chief among them) and grounds the story well in the time period.
He isn’t afraid in playing with the usual alignment of characters, nor of adding in some Curse of Fatal Death style timey-wimey moments (or perhaps twisty-wisty?) as the Doctor finesse’s his way in and out of various situations. It all makes a change from just waving a magic sonic screwdriver or omniscient psychic paper.
In my view this is easily Alan’s best work for a long time, an exceptional piece of drama perhaps rivalling his work on the comic strip adaptations for the Fourth Doctor. Each segment (ie half-disc) has a clear identity, there’s plenty of drama and also so many interesting characters the story could have been told from several points of view. Great stuff!
The villains are interesting, and there’s more grey than black and white in the characterisations – by this I mean certain characters might be expected to be just plain evil, but it’s more nuanced than that. Characters have identity beyond stereotypes.
We don’t get any backstory for Ace – when did she move out of the TARDIS and what else she’s up to in London, and this is sensible. It’s not her trilogy, not does Big Finish want to trap itself in continuity without reason.
Jessica Martin is (again) excellent in this, and Samuel Clemens’s direction on the trilogy as a whole has been exemplary. Add Joe Meiners’s sound and music and it’s another solid main range release in what has been a notable trilogy. Producer Emma Haigh deserves credit for helping steer this through from idea to end product.
Really I rather enjoyed this, and let’s hope Mags is back in the TARDIS before too long!