REVIEW: “Missy – Series 1” (From Big Finish Productions)

MISSY01_slipcase_1417SQI adore Missy (Michelle Gomez). She is, perhaps, my favorite incarnation of Doctor Who in the history of the entire show. Literally, every episode of the Peter Capaldi era that featured her was immediately made better by her being in it. Gomez brings this wonderful energy to the role, balancing genuine pathos with the Master’s typical crazy, evil behavior. So, when Big Finish Productions announced they were giving Missy her own series, I was absolutely excited for it. Four stories with Missy as the main character? Sign me up! These stories – A Spoonful of Mayhem by Roy Gill, Divorced, Beheaded, Regenerated by John Dorney, The Broken Clock by Nev Fountain, and The Belly of the Beast by Jonathan Morris – make up this utterly superb first series of audio adventures for Missy. Each episode has a completely different tone and method of exploring Missy as a character – and I adore each of them.

Missy… alone, unleashed and unfettered. What does she get up to when the Doctor isn’t around? Well, Missy has a plan. And to carry it out, she’s going to have to break some rules. And people. And planets. Look out universe, Missy is on a mission. And nobody is going to stop her…

This box set is a series of four stand-alone stories that are loosely connected by an overarching storyline featuring Missy trying to regain her TARDIS/transform it into a kind of super-TARDIS. But that overarching plotline isn’t really the point of this set and it doesn’t really come into focus until the last ten minutes of the fourth story in the set. The joy of this boxset comes from Michelle Gomez’s performance as Missy and the truly delightful stories written for her by Roy Gill, John Dorney, Nev Fountain, and Jonathan Morris. Each story explores Missy in a different light; A Spoonful of Mayhem sees her trapped by space wardens and forced to be the governess for some children in order to further her plans, Divorced, Beheaded, Regenerated sees her going against the Meddling Monk (Rufus Hound) in order to steal a part of his TARDIS to further her plans, The Broken Clock sees her impersonating a Scotland Yard detective as she takes part in a weird, timey-wimey true-crime show, and The Belly of the Beast shows her at, perhaps, her most cruel as she is an evil dictator commanding a group of slaves. Each story plays up these different aspects of Missy’s personality perfectly and each one is an utter delight.

I don’t want to go into any real specifics on the stories other than to say that each one is totally distinct from the other. There are major tonal differences as well as each plot being totally different and featuring totally different characters. For the most part, Missy is the only character who appears in every story – there is one exception to this, but to say anything more would be a major spoiler. So, with that said, it’s admirable how the side characters in each story are as well developed as they are. Each writer does this without sacrificing any of Missy’s “screentime”, too, which is doubly impressive. Particular standouts are Rufus Hound’s performance as the Meddling Monk – a role which he has played before and been amazing in. It’s always fun when Missy runs into other Time Lords as each of them has to deal with her in a different way and I love how her dynamic changes depending on which Time Lord she’s dealing with. My other favorite side characters are the ones in The Broken Clock. As I mentioned, that story takes the form of a true-crime TV show, with a narrator interviewing various people involved in the story and “actors” portraying those people in dramatic reenactments. Missy, predictably, doesn’t much care for the actress portraying her and quickly takes over the role and makes the whole story even more timey-wimey.

Each story has something new to say about Missy and most of them also add something interesting to the Doctor Who universe at large. We find out that the Monk hid from the Time War and now finds himself stranded because of it. We find out that Missy’s TARDIS ditched her because it realized the atrocities she’d commit in the Time War – and also saw the fact that she’d continue to commit atrocities after its conclusion. We learn that, even though the Time Lords are back in the universe, creatures they used to keep under control still run amuck (particularly those who feed on paradoxes). And there’s a whole lot of other clever ideas that expand the universe of Doctor Who. This is one of my favorite sets from Big Finish in a long time precisely for the reason that it doesn’t rely on overly referencing the past. This box set is about expanding the world of Doctor Who and it does so admirably, with each author bringing something new or doing a new twist on something we thought we knew. I love it when Big Finish audios do something new or try something that the TV series couldn’t do. It’s one of the reasons why The Broken Clock is my favorite story in this set. I love when shows have episodes that are take-offs on other media – the episodes of The X-Files and Supernatural that parody other shows are some of the best ones – and this take off on true-crime shows, with a Doctor Who twist, is just so much fun. That’s the best way to describe this set, really: “so much fun”.

All in all, Missy – Series 1 is one of my favorite box sets to come out from Big Finish in ages. It features some of the most creative stories from the company, is all about my favorite incarnation of the Master (Michelle Gomez’s Missy), and really expands the world of Doctor Who in new and interesting ways. Every story feels unique, both tonally and plot-wise, while still forming part of a larger narrative that ends in a cliffhanger that makes you long for the next set. It’s clear that Michelle Gomez is still having an enormous amount of fun portraying Missy as she delivers a performance that perfectly balances Missy’s pathos with her completely bonkers insanity. The performances from the guest cast complement Gomez’s performance nicely, and the writing for each story gives Gomez something new to play with each time. This box set is just an utter delight. It’s a fun way to spend four hours and I’m excited to hear more.

5 out of 5 wands.

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