(warning: This is about as enjoyable as The Boy That Time Forgot)
Demon Quest II: The Demon of Paris
So, where were we? Eschewing anything we might recognize as "imagination" or "variety", the Doctor returns to Nest Cottage with his whinging bitch of a housekeeper, Mrs. Wibbsey to tinker with the TARDIS. Being not only thoroughly unpleasant, but also pig-ignorant and useless, Mrs. Wibbsey accidentally sells a vital part of the console at a cake sale in town - well, actually swaps them with a heap of stocking-fillers that our heroes must travel through time and identify in a wild goose chase until they ghastly miniseries is over.
After getting bushwhacked by Emperor Claudius and his generic unseen time meddling employers, the Doctor and Wibbsey are resigned to having to go through this tedious sub Key to Time bullshit in the vain hope that we might stumble across something halfway worth listening to. After all, Hornet's Nest dabbled with vaguely-decent material in its second and third installments, so my hopes are high even while my patience wears thin. But, heh, Paris? Demons? How could ANYONE screw that up? Everyone from the Ninja Turtles to the Doug Anthony Allstars have tried it and succeeded with flying colours, surely this can't fail to be enjoyable and entertaining?
...please don't let me have jinxed that.
Of course, the best way to get into the mood to enjoy a tale like this is not to listen to all the bits where Wibbsey goes out of her way to act like a completely miserable bitch - if you hate everything that much, top yourself you vulgar harlot! Dear god, why would anyone want to spend time with you, ya cow?! There's a reason the Fourth Doctor never traveled on TV with people this utterly irritating, you know!
Arriving in Paris (which is also the centre of the universe), the Doctor starts talking utter bullshit about how Oscar Wilde, the Prince of Wales and other non-copyrighted historical figures who we're clearly never going to see, talk to, or have any interest in are walking around silently not doing anything remotely interesting. Oh, THRILL as they chew chicken drumsticks! GASP as Wibbsey refuses to eat this foreign muck! YAWN as you realize that Tom Baker hasn't bothered to bring along any acting talent this week and it's just him trying to cram as much camp into every syllable! I'm beginning to wish Dave Segal was here, to give the material the gravitas it deserves...
After finding the original Lautrec poster on a wall, the duo gabble at each other about this probably being something important and then go to see the original artist - whereupon Wibbsey starts bitching that the Doctor's gone all moody. DOES NOTHING PLEASE YOU, WOMAN?!? The Doctor decides then decides that they haven't narrated enough tedious descriptions of Paris and wants to get drunk and dance, before a "wretched girl" running for her life bumps into them, and the Doctor immediately demands she get pissed - but not on absinthe! With Wibbsey bitching on and on and on AND SHUT THE FUCK UP, the girl "La Charlotte" takes them all to a cafe and practises her incredibly unconvincing French accent. It turns out the Doctor in his scarf and hat is getting regularly mistaken for the bloke in the poster, a Cabaret actor gone missing.
La Charlotte waffles on about mysterious disappearances of young girls, some French drunk demands the Doctor get a song, then tries to flirt with Wibbsey, claims Lautrec himself is the serial killer, then wanders off again. Whatever. "Dear Mr. Margrs, I have seen Talons of Weng Chiang and do not need you to try and rip it off. If you can't come up with anything decent, get someone else to write it. I'd rather Baker never returned to the role again than inflicted crap like this onto the unsuspecting public. You should be ashamed. Love, me. PS - what is all this bullshit about the Doctor speaking French when everyone else speaks English? TARDIS translation my ass!"
Finally our... heroes... decide to visit Lautrec himself and then La Charlotte runs away, presumably sick of being repeatedly called "wretched girl" in the pretentious narration. The Doctor barges into Lautrec's tower studio to find the place wrecked and Lautrec missing. For the first time there is the vaguest hint of tension: all the painting have been vandalized in such a way the portraits seem to be of people who have slashed their wrists, slit their throats or stabbed themselves through the heart. That should have been on the cover of the CD, it would make a difference.
Yes, evil is afoot, danger is in the night so... the Doctor and Wibbsey go to a cafe to have some food that will teach the palsied harridan that French people can actually make edible meals. Then they go to the Moulin Rouge. Sigh. Oh, a sleazy bit of Paris. Who gives a shit? Who cares if Lautrec lives or dies, let alone the regular cast? Nothing interesting, engaging or ENTERTAINING occurs, unless you find your soul somehow invigorated at hearing a description of someone watching some dancing girls dance. There are twenty-three tracks in this CD, I've listened to seven and a bit and am now considering giving up entirely before this turns into an outright rape-and-pillage of Vincent and the Doctor, what with a drunken depressive artist being connected to some alien monster killing young girls.
The Doctor barges up to Lautrec and demands to know why he did a version of his poster with the Doctor in it - and Lautrec correctly identifies it as very bad photoshop and doctoring, something the Doctor lamely admits he should have noticed himself. Oh, well, so Lautrec has nothing to do with this. Can we go now? "Go and be a detective," Lautrec sneers, "but don't bother me with your games." Here, here. Then he waffles about how he doesn't like being accused of being a serial killer. What, the audience needed to be TOLD this?!
OK... trying again. Damn my completist work ethic.
Finally sick of the Doctor (acting and behaving much more like Ruth Cracknell in Mother and Son rather than a Time Lord), Lautrec shouts to everybody that the Doctor is the missing cabaret poster guy, and thus all the rumors about the artist being cursed are unfounded. The Doctor, being a pathetic gutless tool who can't speak French, is forced by the crowds to sing, something which is apparently "horrifying" according to Mrs. Wibbsey. Oh good, just what the story needs - its excuse for a plot put in more wet cement while some shit-unfunny gags about the Doctor not being musical pad things out! FOR FUCK'S SAKE!
WHAT THOSE OTHERS LOSERS SAID
davidshaw: I'm afraid I was rather disappointed with this episode. I thought the pace was rather slow and the story lacked drama and incident. Also, there was much less humour. Basically, the general structure of this script was far too similar to the last one, especially the ending. It just seemed like a "filler" episode and the overall story was not really advanced at all. I really think they should use several writers to create more variety and pace.
saint mark: I found part 2 like part 1 in the end of the episode to preoccupied with the next tale enstead of making the story longer. The tale had no real shocking moments. So far I can honestly say that the last years Hornets Nest is being the superior of the two.
MLP*: The plot was rather perfunctory and the characters not very involving. It was also rather predictable. I wasn't thrilled that we are back to lengthy periods of narration either, even though the reader is different this time.
CaptainJ: Im SO wanting to enjoy these, this is MY Doctor.....but it isn't, it's Tom Baker camping up Tom Baker, and Paul Margs encouraging him. I sincerely hope Big Finish aren't as accomodating. If BBC Audiobooks gets a 3rd series, i doubt i'll be buying it. Im SO dissapointed...
amacca: It ran out of steam as there seemed a bit of padding.
Doctor Indiana Who: I found this a real struggle to get through, and I'm not entirely sure why. It just didn't compell me to carry on listening, and as awful as it sounds, I was actually rather relieved when it finished! I really did not like this one.
William Buchan: I seem to be in the minority here in liking this part.