AUDIO REVIEW: Smoke and Mirrors

by Steve Lyons

Out Now

Review by Emrys Matthews

Smoke and Mirrors is a new audio adventure for the Fifth Doctor in the 50th Anniversary AudioGo/Big Finish collaboration series, Destiny of The Doctor.

The Doctor, along with companions Adric, Nyssa and Tegan, answer a psionic distress call from an old friend in a fairground in 1920s England. That friend: Harry Houdini. Houdini and the Doctor suspect an alien influence may be at work. The Doctor may be right, but what he doesn’t realise is that, somewhere in the shadows of the fairground a sinister and familiar presence is waiting for him, how will he escape?

Janet Fielding and Tim Beckman
All the elements that comprise this new adventure should form a truly memorable story: escapologist extraordinaire, Harry Houdini, a wonderfully creepy fairground setting, scary fairground folk and animals and a very familiar enemy [we'll keep you spoiler~free on that one - Ed.] and yet something just seems to be missing. It’s difficult to put your finger on exactly what it is that’s absent but I came away feeling liked I’d missed something. The story starts at a lovely pace but seems to feel a little rushed towards the climax and the build to the reveal of the villain is a little underwhelming. Although what is here is great, one can’t help but feel there is some binding ingredient missing from this otherwise delicious recipe.

The story takes place sometime after The Visitation and before Earthshock. Due to Matthew Waterhouse’s lack of involvement in Doctor Who audio or other post-Who projects it feels like an exciting and untapped period to exploit for Destiny of The Doctor. The story perhaps isn’t quite as memorable as it could have been, but certainly fulfills the remit to produce a Doctor Who story that accurately represents the Fifth Doctor era.

It’s great to have such an infamous character as Houdini, that has been mentioned many a time in Doctor Who both on and off television and there are some lovely little mentions of previous times the Doctor has met the escapologist.

Another highlight is that we get to see a lighter more internal side to Tegan. She is a companion many adore and as many more find utterly infuriating, but in Smoke and Mirrors we get to see things from her point of view which really helps to understand and empathise with her as a character. Janet Fielding who has exploded back on to the Doctor Who audio scene after a very long absence does a great job voicing this tale and it’s many characters and Tim Beckman is wonderful as Houdini.

All in all it’s well worth a listen for nothing other than to see how the Doctor and Houdini interact and to hear a passionate performance from the inimitable Janet Fielding. 

Thanks to AudioGo

Review by Emrys Matthews

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