Loups-Garoux is the werewolf edition of Doctor Who, in the same way that Goth Opera is the vampire edition. In more ways than one: this feels more like a Virgin Missing Adventure/New Adventure novel than classic Who or mature Big Finish.
The Doctor takes Turlough to Rio in 2080 for Carnivale, to enjoy a more earthy side to humans than was possible at an English boy’s school. Hilarity ensues when a dancer starts hitting on the Doctor (Turlough isn’t helping). They’ll soon have bigger, hairier problems to worry about: problems with big eyes and big teeth and somewhat ridiculous-sounding howls. The Doctor, predictably, plays knight in shining armor to the people the werewolf is terrorizing, in particular the mysterious heiress Ileana de Santos. She quickly takes a shine to him in ways that are both awkward and touching. Turlough, meanwhile, starts running away from his own shadows. He falls in with one of the last Amazonian natives, a girl named Rosa who has a score to settle with El Lobo.
Have a trailer.
All the guest actors are excellent, although once again accents are laid on thicker than old turpentine, and some names are badly mispronounced. Ileana de Santos, in particular, is a charismatic and sympathetic character who develops a fascinating rapport with the Doctor. Peter Davison’s performance is unusually nuanced, reminding me a little of his more understated moments in Caves of Androzani. Mark Strickson has a lot of fun playing skittish, unreliable yet kind-hearted Turlough, making me wish there were more than just a few Five & Turlough audios.
“Anywhere, Doctor, as long as we can get away from it all.”
“Get away from it, Turlough, or get away with?”
“Probably a bit of both, Doctor.”
I disliked Loups-Garoux the first time I heard it, because I burned out on werewolf RPGs a decade ago. I loathed it the second time. Yet the last time I listened, I put my irritation with the genre aside and found it to be an enjoyable, atmospheric story with some keen dialogue and an almost cinematographic style all its own. Futuristic Rio, the train, and the dusty Amazonian wasteland are an evocative setting, the music adds subtle flavour, and there’s an almost lyrical quality to some of the back-and-forth exchanges between the Doctor and Ileana, Rosa and Turlough, and the big bad wolf and everyone.
So I’m really not sure how to rate it. It’s a little different from standard Fifth Doctor fare, and it’s a good Turlough audio, which is far too rare. It’s a well-written drama, as to be expected from the author of Lungbarrow, Ghost Light and a number of controversially canon-stretching stories. If you can put up with heavy werewolf mythos and a romantic element that’s almost New Who (but more subtle and restrained), you’ll enjoy it.
By the way, you might want to swap out the original art for this great fan-made custom cover in your mp3 player.
Again, I was trying to avoid too many spoilers in the review above, so I didn’t want to give away the fact that there are an awful lot of werewolves in this. I strongly suspect Marc Platt has played Werewolf: the Apocalypse, with the Impergium (werewolves hunting/keeping the humans as cattle), the Veil (werewolves concealing themselves and manipulating human perceptions), the initiation ritual that Turlough’s forced into and the jaguar girl. I’m torn about the fact that both the Doctor and Turlough seem to be pushed towards becoming werewolves themselves— if it was psychological, fine, but it sounded like more than that.
Also, the Doctor’s being an idiot again about falling into marriage by accident. I’d say he’s too intelligent not to realise what Ileana was asking him to do, except that he misread Cameca’s intentions as well all the way back in The Aztecs. And just as in that story, the woman is a strong enough character for me to believe the Doctor might have some reciprocal feelings for her, although Ileana languishes and depends on the big strong man to help her a little more than I’m comfortable with. But I love her heart-to-hearts with the Doctor, and I love the way her extra senses allow her to pick up on his otherworldliness with a sensitivity that most characters can’t convey.
I’m also a little torn about the final solution, with the spirits of the forest taking the wolf away. It’s more magic than Doctor Who usually allows. There’s a partial save in that the Doctor says that it worked because Rosa and Stubbe believed it, but one gets the impression it really happened. It’s a beautiful scene, though, and I like the symmetry with the first encounter between Rosa (little Red Riding Hood) and Peter.
This is the second Turlough and Fifth Doctor audio, production code 6P/B, set between Phantasmagoria and Singularity. All the Turlough & Five audios are shoehorned between Resurrection of the Daleks and Planet of Fire.