Peake Season

Posted in Audio by - June 26, 2022
Peake Season

Released June 2022


Seeking out J.R.R. Tolkein to discuss his seminal works but instead finding himself in the home of Mervyn Peake whom he admires just as much, the Doctor seeks to make amends by taking the writer and illustrator on a trip aboard the TARDIS to begin Lizabeth Myles’s ‘Peake Season.’ The two soon find themselves trapped in an unknown city working as newspaper cartoonists, however, and when some illustrations begin to become solid, it becomes clear that this trip will be anything but ordinary.

With the Land of Fiction, Doctor Who has a long history of making fictional elements real within the context of its individual stories, and Myles makes the most of this setup without naming the locale to lend an air of familiarity to the increasingly audacious events at hand. As it turns out, the truth is stranger than even that realm could create, and in this particular world where everything has its place but where nobody notices or cares when that place is wrong, a staggering lack of imagination from all of its denizens makes repeated attacks against buildings and a palace that is constantly recreated an accepted occurrence rather than anything of note. Indeed, those in charge can seemingly do whatever they please with no resistance, proclaiming that anyone in the public would simply ask what time to show up if sentenced to execution. This is a land that has never had need of a prison, however, and so the Doctor and Mervyn present something of a conundrum when they begin to ask questions, a conundrum that continues to pose problems as they utilize the unique properties of this world to escape any consequences and to continue their own quest for knowledge.

Although ‘Peake Season’ is not written or performed as a strict comedy, there are plenty of more comedic moments sprinkled into an overall lighter tone that perfectly suits the Fourth Doctor’s more mischievous nature. Mervyn and he are anything but lacking in imagination, and Tom Baker and David Holt share a magnificent chemistry that makes this adventure feel more like a missing story featuring an established pairing rather than what is presumably a one-off tale. Mervyn is assuredly a product of his time and takes a moment to process the grandiose ideas before him, but his creativeness and determination are strong attributes that complement the rather freewheeling Fourth Doctor well as the characters come to learn of a queen who has been in hiding for decades after being blamed for her parents’ deeds that left the populace in such a poor state. Jules de Jongh gives a formidable performance as Valspierre who has entered this pocket universe in search of the Queen she still blames, and Ava Merson-O’Brien as Queen Alexandrina brings the story full circle with a certain charm and innocence that ably explains the unique physics of this land and capably brings about a satisfying conclusion.

‘Peake Season’ is an immensely visual and imaginative tale that perfectly utilizes its allotted time to fully develop this world and its main characters. Likewise, the sound design and music are quite nuanced, breathing life into each individual motion to truly make the encompassing mystery all the more visceral. For a story that has hardly received any advertising compared to the two four-part tales in this set, ‘Peake Season’ is a genuine surprise in all the right ways and a true testament to the ingenuity and enthusiasm at all stages of creation that have always been so integral to Doctor Who.

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