Audio Drama Review – ‘Doctor Who: Mind Of The Hodiac’

by Rachel Bellwoar

Doctor Who: Mind of the Hodiac
Directed by Scott Handcock
Written by Russell T. Davies and Scott Handcock
Starring Colin Baker (The Doctor) and Bonnie Langford (Mel)

A new story by Doctor Who’s soon-to-be returning showrunner that isn’t so much new as found (in the interview section, Davies and producer, Emily Cook, explain how the script was recovered and reworked for Big Finish).

Cover Artist: Sophie Cowdrey

While the phrase “he’s only human,” doesn’t really apply to the Doctor, even a Time Lord needs time to relax. That doesn’t make it any less strange, though, when The Mind of the Hodiac begins with the Doctor reading a book.

While it’s understood that the Doctor has downtime sometimes, it’s rarely shown on screen (or, in this case, heard). Occasionally the Doctor or one of his companions will mention swimming in the Tardis’ swimming pool or some other activity that shows they aren’t always saving the world, but Doctor Who stories usually come in right when an adventure’s about to start.

The Mind of the Hodiac is like arriving to the party early and getting to witness some of those quiet scenes that Doctor Who might cut for time, and lingering there until it almost starts to feel awkward, like why is the Doctor being allowed to read so much? Shouldn’t his Time Lord senses be tingling?

While the Doctor remains blissfully unaware of his existence, listeners get to form an impression of the Hodiac (Laurie Kynaston) right away in the opening scene. You almost don’t realize he’s there because The Woman (Luyanda Unati Lewis-Nyawo) is speaking for him. Every villain needs a mouthpiece, but usually that’s so they can be somewhere else while their commands are being issued. Not the Hodiac, and what’s cool is Davies never describes his appearance, so it’s really up to the listener. There are some clues. The sound of wheels, for example, let’s you know he’s being pushed around but is he in a wheelchair? A cart? Does he look like Star Trek’s Captain Pike after he was exposed to radiation (one of the Hodiac’s powers does resemble a warped Vulcan mind meld)? We know his body’s in bad shape (unlike his mind), but he’s not human, either.

Whatever the Hodiac looks like, he’s a great antagonist, who’s obsessed with finding his Other, or other half. He’s prepared for every contingency, too. In fact, he’s counting on the Doctor meddling, which is a lot more interesting than a villain who’s on the defensive.

The final piece of the puzzle is the Maitland family, who believe their house may be haunted. At least that’s the only explanation they can think of for why the objects in their home keep floating. T’Nia Miller and Loreece Harrison are great as a mother-daughter team at odds with each other, and the way their storyline ends up tying in with the others is a lot of fun.

If there’s one perspective The Mind of the Hodiac could’ve cut it’s spending time with the Hodiac’s employees, who try to explain his crooked dealings. It does show that Davies is covering all his bases, but the short answer is easier to follow.

Doctor Who: Mind of the Hodiac is available to purchase from Big Finish.

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