The Holy Terror
Big Finish Productions
The Maltese Penguin
|Written by||Rob Shearman|
|Continuity||Between The World Shapers and The Holy Terror.|
|Starring Colin Baker and Robert Jezek|
|Also featuring Toby Longworth, Jane Goddard, Alistair Lock|
|Synopsis: It was just another quiet day on the mean streets for Frobisher, private eye. But then a dame walks into his office and into his life. A dame who is drop dead gorgeous and drop dead deadly, offering him a case he just can't refuse. Frobisher finds himself involved in a web of mayhem and intrigue. A web of gangland killings, corrupt cops, sentient bloodstains, and very rude hotel receptionists. A web of murder and deceit, treachery and fisticuffs.|
A Review by Richard Radcliffe 21/7/02
Coming as it does with the CD featuring the epic conclusion of McGann's 2nd Season - Neverland, The Maltese Penguin is a free gift to all subscribers. A reward, if you like, for going direct to the Big Finish source. Free Gifts have always been treated with suspicion by DW Fans - considered throwaway stories that somehow don't measure up to "proper" stories you can actually buy.
I really like free gifts, and Big Finish are more generous than most. Their freebies attached to DWM were most welcome, even though The Ratings War was not my favourite story. Last of the Titans was okay though. I'm pleased to say though that The Maltese Penguin is the best Freebie yet. It's fun, a lot of fun, and brought a smile to my face on numerous occasions.
Rob Shearman's name on the cover was sufficient for me to be confident about The Maltese Penguin. After the excellent Holy Terror and the magnificent Chimes of Midnight, this fellow has shown he's the best writer Big Finish have. This story, whilst being much more lightweight than those 2 illustrious predecessors, further re-inforces that belief.
The whole idea is to have fun. Frobisher is a great funny character. This Shapeshifter who likes more than anything to be a Penguin, has emerged from the Comic Strip to become a more accepted Companion of the Doctor, thanks to Big Finish. Robert Jezek has brought him to life in a wonderful way, really making him one of the most likeable friends that the Doctor has.
This story is a homage to the classic American Detective serials of the past. Star Trek - The Next Generation succeeded with its Dixon Hill Holodeck settings. DW has had a bash too - Invaders From Mars by Mark Gatiss was very much in that genre. When we met Frobisher in DWM Comic Strip he was a Detective, and he has returned to his roots for The Maltese Penguin. The 6th Doctor is peripheral (quite an achievement for this most dominant of Time Lords). The Doctor keeps popping in just to see if Frobisher is alright, confessing that he misses Frobisher and gets lonely on his own. It's a wonderful contrast to the usual 6th Doctor role, and had me laughing every time he appeared.
Colin Baker, however, does not have a peripheral role. Frobisher is a Shape Shifter you see, and he has to take on the appearance of a humanoid in order to solve the mystery. He chooses to look like the 6th Doctor. He also sounds like him, and so Colin Baker gets to have a lot of fun with New York slang and accent. And he is rather good at it too. And so Frobisher here is played by Robert Jezek and Colin Baker.
This genre is defined by the voiceover narration that bookends each scene. Robert Jezeks Frobisher provides these interludes, and fitting and funny they are too. The extra characters are kept to 3 - Dogbolter, Alicia and Chandler. All are excellent, but I have to single out Toby Longworth as Dogbolter for specific praise. The manic half frog/half man from the Comic, is brought supremely to life. The calculating pursuit of profit, with cold precision, punctuated by explosions of rage - it's all here.
All in all The Maltese Penguin is a fun romp through the American Detective Genre clichés. It's strange really, we've had 2 of these this year so far. The fact that I preferred The Maltese Penguin over Invaders From Mars was predictable. Colin Baker, Robert Jezek and Robert Shearman had succeeded so well before after all - they do so again, in a very funny and delightful way. Wonderful entertainment. 9/10
A Review by Stuart Gutteridge 20/4/04
The Maltese Penguin is a nice idea on paper that ultimately fails in practice. The story isn`t really strong enough to support the play and it's questionable as to how strong a lead character Frobisher is; given that the play is really his. The idea of Frobisher as a Private Eye is a nice idea and he has a strong villain in Dogbolter, and as such this is reflected in the music and more often than not irritating accents. Performancewise, Robert Jezek is more subdued as Frobisher, whilst Colin Baker is sidelined for the majority of the play. Best of all is Toby Longworth`s Dogbolter who brings a menace to the part, mostly lacking throughout the story. In short then, The Maltese Penguin is ok but mostly forgettable.
A Review by Ron Mallett 14/6/05
We've all heard big things about Rob Shearman, but I'm afraid they are not to be found in this audio adventure. Some very unkind things have been said about it in the past and I'm afraid I'm only going to add to them.
What constitutes a Frobisher solo adventure in many ways is delivered in a very cliched film noir style virtually drawing on everything that Bogart ever starred in of note. The incidental music is overdone and after the first 30 minutes it just gets annoying. The basic conceit that Frobisher facilitates the return of activity to a planet without any is really, ludicrous.
One of the redeeming features is the sound effects used to illustrate Frobisher's form changes. Also Colin Baker and Robert Jezek serve to make this adventure just bearable. It all virtually amounts to just being a lead up to The Holy Terror, also written by Shearman. Definitely for fans only.