Doctor Who: The Further Adventuress – The Mummy Speaks! and Eclipse Review

One of my all-time favourite Doctor-companion combinations have been reunited to celebrate 20 years since their debut appearance, which is weird to think that these audio dramas have been going on for so long! Yes The Eighth Doctor and Charley Pollard have been given four 1-hour stories set early in their run (so less story arc heavy) and these first two have been very fun to listen to, even if their format feels more like the Lucie Miller era of the Eighth Doctor… So let’s take a look!

Synopsis (Of Episode 1 “The Mummy Speaks!”):

The Carnaval de Paris, 1841. Amid the sideshow tents, the Doctor and Charley discover something truly novel: an Ancient Egyptian mummy that speaks – despite being dead for more than 4,000 years!

But what the mummy has to say translates into terror for the TARDIS twosome… and proclaims doom for the entire world.

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

Episode 1, “The Mummy Speaks!”, is a very fun story, and I mean that literally as it leans far more on comedy than I think any actual Eighth/Charley story did back in the day. Our lead duo arrive in Paris as requested but the wrong time period, as so often happens, and in the course of finding this out they off-handedly insult Napolean at the time the people of France were pretty much idolising him so end up on the run from an angry mob and a comedically inept inspector, eventually finding refuge in a tent where a man named Cagliostro (John Banks) reveals his amazing speaking Mummy Khaset (Cyril Nri). Much to The Doctor’s surprise the Mummy reveals he is actually a Mummy from 4,000 years ago and he’s in constant pain, leading to a quick end to the show and another escape from authorities via The Doctor uncaging a gorilla and letting it run loose. Turns out that Cagliostro is using Khaset to not only make a few bucks as a stage show but also to break into rich people’s houses and steal their goods and as The Doctor and Charley catch them in the act Cagliostro is wounded by the Baron who’s house he broke into, Charley is caught by the now blatantly corrupt inspector while The Doctor is seemingly choked to death by Khaset.

A short while later and Charley is about to be guillotined but is saved by the previously mentioned Gorilla, now wearing a waistcoat and a cravat and under the orders from The Doctor, who apparently has been travelling with “Gee” for a little while trying to land in the right place to save her. The now trio track Khaset down to the corrupt inspector’s house and find out that instead of a Mummy Khaset is a collection of alien insects that inhabit the freshly dead and walk around in their bodies, previously defeated and sealed away by the people of Egypt all those millennia ago. Khaset grabs Charley and takes her to the highest point, King Kong style, which is the Notre-Dame towers, and then gets distracted by Gee ringing all the bells, Quasimodo style. The ship full of Khaset’s kin he called in is destroyed soon after and Khaset himself along with it when he falls from the tower. The Doctor and Charley drop their Gorilla friend off in the jungle to end the episode. It’s a fun run-around, like I said far more comedy-based than the original Eight/Charley stories, but I don’t mind them doing something a bit different with them while also celebrating their past.

Lovely, very purple cover. Thought I’d stick it here to break up the text, though that sadly leaves the rest of the review a bit barren in the pictures department…

Episode 2, “Eclipse”, is a little more straight-forward (for a Doctor Who story…) as it’s set on an Earth colony that is constantly under attack from an eclipse of moths, which is apparently the collective noun for moths, I had no idea! They seek refuge in a house and meet Keelda (Theo Solomon) who tells them about the “Hellstrung” attacks and how their houses creek loudly at night, as well as his brother Timon, who ends up dead. The leader of the settlement, Tarper (Rhoda Ofori-Attah) enforces the idea to not go out at night, something that only convinces The Doctor to do the opposite. He and Charley find Tarper drilling and cutting down trees for sap and shooting Hellstrung with lasers, it’s soon revealed that it was all to sell the tree sap as it has youth-restoring capabilities. That’s the basic set up, the rest of the story sees Charley being captured by Hellstrung, The Doctor and Keelda riding a giant moth, and the revelation that the trees are low-level sentient and that the Hellstrung were attacking the houses because they were made from the trees they planted their larvae in, larvae that soon begin to hatch into the houses.

Tarper and her guard, who have been consuming plenty of the sap, are soon strung up by the moths and The Doctor reveals a side-effect of consuming the sap just as they experience it: Tarper and co. metamorphose into trees, something Charley can’t watch but The Doctor says is a fitting end given all the damage they did to this planet’s environment. It was a good story, while it didn’t have some of the more amusing and unique plot points as the previous one it instead as advertised gave us a further adventure for Eight and Charley that felt at home tonally with their era.

The Bad:

Not a lot. “The Mummy Speaks!” had one or two on-the-nose call backs to their first adventure, including Charley dressing up as a boy again, which just nearly broke the fourth wall due to how blatant they were, and sort of flies in the face of “fitting in between two stories seamlessly” side of things as they wouldn’t have gone out of their way to mention their first story back then… These moments were only brief though.

Overall the only real mark down is the length of the stories. Sure, sometimes you can get a good one hour story out, but for The Doctor and Charley I would’ve preferred two four partners in order to actually mimic their original era. The fact that these two stories have pre-credits sequences only make it feel more modern and there not very much like “Further Adventures” of the Adventuress…

The Continuity:

As mentioned there are several callbacks to their original adventure together, “Storm Warning”. Apart from that there aren’t a great deal of connections, which is nice. A lot of the early Eight and Charley adventures were similarly continuity free.

I guess the creatures inhabiting corpses and walking around in them did bring up images of the Ninth Doctor TV story “The Unquiet Dead”, where gaseous aliens took over corpses, though that story itself had lifted a lot of imagery from an Eighth Doctor comic anyway, so it all comes full circle, or something…?

Overall Thoughts:

The Mummy Speaks! and Eclipse are both fun short stories in their own way, one being a good comedy caper and the other being a good revisit to the period of Who it’s slotting into. The shorter runtime and sometimes calling back to 20 years ago a bit too much drag it down, but overall I enjoy the first half of the “New Adventuress”.

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