The Hounds of Artemis
Read by Matt Smith
|Written by||James Goss|
|Synopsis: At the Tomb of Artmis, wild beasts roam the night.|
A Review by E. John Winner 12/3/12
If you really want to get into the Matt Smith era audio-exclusive series, this is the one to start with. Everything Oli Smith got wrong in The Runaway Train, author James Goss gets right, and then some.
The Doctor and Amy arrive at an archeological dig, attempting to unearth the ancient Tomb of Artemis, the Greek goddess of the hunt, where people seem to be disappearing, and wild beasts prowl the night, hounds the size of humans...
Although on second listen I realized that the story is quite short and very localized, it still feels like a complete serial adventure. Incorporation of the local Greek population, while drawn in broad strokes, helps to expand that narrative sense. Goss uses the first third of the story to develop characters, all of whom are interesting, using the second third to develop the suspense and the final third to resolve it in a satisfying manner. There are real scary beasties appearing here, the invading alien is well integrated into the narrative and the Doctor has to work out an ancient clue to come up with a satisfactory resolution. This is the Doctor we've come to expect throughout his many incarnations, solving mysteries, confronting baddies, quick to catch what others miss, in a daring effort to preserve both the planet and the natural course of time itself. And, as with any real adventure, people do get hurt and lives get changed, but it all works out for the best, though there is (as always) a lingering hint that the threat may reappear someday. We leave this story feeling as though we experienced something dangerous, exciting, and strange.
The historical environment I think is quite well handled, atmospheric and believable; there are also some neat cultural side remarks and a good dose of humor. The opening is especially nicely timed, with an ancient crypt getting opened in the manner of some Universal horror movie, only to have the Doctor pop out and announce that "you're in terrible danger".
Amy Pond is completely realized as a character here, thanks to the neat trick of having her diary of the episode read out by a librarian who happens to be a relative of one of the archeologist characters involved. And the Doctor plays with his knowledge of the future of that character and why there must be something very wrong with the excavation of the ancient tomb of Artemis, which, we eventually discover, isn't where it's supposed to be after all.
It is all good clean Doctor Who sci-fi horror story fun. The pacing is excellent, the sound design is excellent, and Matt Smith and co-reader Clare Corbett are in fine form. This is everything such an audio exclusive should be.