A review by goldyapper
Doctor Who: Minuet in Hell by Alan W. Lear, Gary Russell


Bad 'American' accents, boring storytelling and weird decisions plague this story. This acts as a sort of finale to the first 'season' of eighth Doctor and Charley stories and it, unfortunately, is by far the worst of the bunch. 

The story revolves around the eighth Doctor and Charley landing in a newly formed state in the USA, Malebolgia and becoming embroiled in different organisations that are run by Brigham Elisha Dashwood III. Dashwood runs both the Hellfire Club, in which Charley is forced to be involved and the psychiatric institution, which is where the Doctor has held at with no memories of who he is.

To start with, it decides to do another eighth Doctor 'loses' his memory stories. Just because he lost his memories in the 'Movie', doesn't mean he has to lose them every ten stories. It is a boring contrived reason to add pseudo-tension to the story. We as readers know he gets them back, instead of adding tension, it just leaves us waiting.

Charley's story is honestly horrible to listen to. To start, she wakes up at the 'hellfire club' and is forced to become a 'hostess' for the club, against her will. You piece together what that means. The hostesses are told that they might be punished by the gentlemen at the club. And ew... yuck... I never want the image of that (even if just implied) performed to a loveable doctor who companion. Sure, she escapes during part two, but she is only ‘recaptured’ and is dressed as the queen of hell in a red leather outfit, which is described in too much detail. 

The only saving grace is the Brigadier’s storyline, it's quite fun just having him pretending to be a  'tourist' for the new state and seeing him question all the happening occurring. There are small, charming moments with the Brigadier such as his difficulty with logging his findings on the secret unit website.

The human antagonist of the story, Dashwood, is clearly a parody of American evangelists who abuse their follower's faith for their own goals. In Dashwood's case, he uses his power to gain support to become governor for Malebolgia. But secretly he runs the Hellfire club, which is full of sin and lust. It's trying to point at the hypocrisy of evangelists, but he comes off way, way too cartoonish to take seriously or use as an example to criticise real evangelists. He also runs the psychiatric institution, in which they extract memories and 'empty' the brain of the patients so they can perform surgery. If that sounds dumb and confusing.... well, it is and doesn't make any sense at all. Why is he doing this? ... what does he gain? ... it is implied that the doctor's brain is worth 'stealing', but it was only an accident that he arrives... why is he doing this, it makes no sense? 

Dashwood also allies himself with a 'demon' called Marchosias, which feed off the fear, anxiety, and anger of people. Marchosias helps Dashwood with different tasks, for some reason. Honestly, the performance given for this character is cheesy and fun and does make some of his scenes fun. One interesting scene that occurs in part four with Marchosias is when Charley is dressed as the queen of hell. Charley is shot with a transmat gun and arrives on Marchosias' homeworld, surrounded by other 'demons'. However, they reject her as a sacrifice as she is already 'dead', which is interesting, connecting to 'Storm Warning' and the fracturing web of time. However, I feel that the 'demons' reaction should have been more severe like they could have reeled in fear from realised what Charley is. 

An over-bloated story, with a boring villain with three different plans going on at the same time but only one real plan that makes sense. Charley is put in an incredibly uncomfortable situation and the doctor has nothing to do but act confuse for three parts, the Brigadier’s story is fun, but I wished had more substance to it and he had a better team up with the eighth Doctor, where they aren't together for only the last fifteen minutes. The performances are pretty good, a step down compared to the rest of the season. the music and sound effects are either too over the top or predictable and just become frustrating to have.

Not good, unless you are a completionist and have to listen to all the stories, I would highly recommend skipping this story.