(special thanks to Big Finish for providing me with a review copy!)
There may be bigger cases of a “Your mileage may vary” character in Doctor Who, but I can’t think of any larger than Iris Wildthyme. She’s a Time Lord (possibly), who travels with a companion that looks like a small plush panda, drinks a lot of gin, “steals” elements of the Doctor’s story and incorporates them into her own, and travels in a TARDIS that’s shapped like a London double-decker bus and is smaller on the inside than the outside. If those elements sound like wonderful fun to you, then you’ll like her stories! If not (hi, Rob! Hi, Arthur!), then you’ll probably want to skip them.
But if you do, you’ll be leaving yourself out of something really fun. Before Big Finish sent me this set, I’d listened to two Iris stories and enjoyed them both, plus I’d heard her alongside Bernice Summerfield in “The Plague Herds of Excelis”, so I was really looking forward to hearing what series three was like. Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a set of three stories, so let’s go over them one-by-one.
“The Iris Wildthyme Appreciation Society”
Panda isn’t happy. One minute he’s due to be crowned an intergalactic hero with concubines galore and the next Iris is dragging him to the planet Trull, the 42nd Century equivalent of Milton Keynes. As Iris becomes the hottest celeb in the galaxy, little do they know that everyone on Trull is about to die…
This is probably my favorite of the set. It deals with an obsessed fan of Iris’ who…well, does something he possibly oughtn’t have done. It’s also got the Who-universe answer to Galactus, or at least this series’ answer. He doesn’t eat planets, but what he does do…well, I’ll just say I hope he respects them in the morning.
This was a fun, light-hearted story, as are most of Iris’. Wayne Bland II, the obsessed fan, is is a little wince-worthingly close to home at times, but that didn’t kill my enjoyment of the character. Really this was just a fun tale.
“Iris Rides Out”
Thomas Carnacki, the famed Edwardian Ghost Finder, faces his most terrifying challenge yet. Not only must he rid Mocata Grange of hideous apparitions and rampaging pig-monsters, he must also avoid the advances of that hellcat Iris Wildthyme. Will any of them get through the night alive?
This was the weakest of the three, at least to me. I honestly don’t really remember much of the story. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t anything spectacular. I’m willing to say that my enjoyment probably would have been greater if I was at all familiar with Carnacki, a character from some novels way back in the day.
People are dropping like flies in the Warwickshire village of Midwinter Leys and the number one suspect is Iris Wildthyme. Can Inspector Nettles and Sergeant Spartan find the real culprit before more loveable locals are murdered in increasingly bizarre ways? And will Panda ever get his pork pie?
Shades of Hot Fuzz with this one. You have a quaint little English town where Iris and Panda show up just in time to get involved in all these murders. This was an enjoyable tale, though not as good as the first in the set. The supporting cast were a lot of fun, however, and the identity of a strange person whose been pursuing Iris and Panda throughout the series was, to say the least, surprising.
All-in-all, I found this to be a good, fun, entertaining set. Katy Manning, who played Jo Grant on the TV series, does an excellent job with Iris and hearing her alone is worth the price of the set. But beyond that, the whole thing is just…well, good, fun, and entertaining. It’s also only $20, so go buy it, already!