The House that Hoxx Built

Posted in Audio by - July 31, 2022
The House that Hoxx Built

Released July 2022

SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

Since its return to screens in 2005, Doctor Who has continued to introduce iconic nemeses while suitably updating those from the classic series as the Doctor continues his or her adventures throughout time and space. Naturally, these foes continue to create ample storytelling opportunities for Big Finish to create new experiences steeped in the modern era for the classic doctors under its licence, and Classic Doctors New Monsters returns for its third box set, subtitled The Stuff of Nightmares.

Strangely, the opener of The Stuff of Nightmares, Tim Foley’s ‘The House that Hoxx Built,’ focuses on the brother of the Moxx of Balhoon who received little backstory and certainly was not a monster in any meaningful sense of the word in his only appearance in ‘The End of the World.’ This is the type of alien who would be welcome in a continuing range of stories featuring the Doctor as a nice nod to the modern series, but there really isn’t enough known about the Moxx to justify expanding the race’s role in what amounts to a celebratory release, and ‘The House of Hoxx Built’ further solidifies the fact that the Balhoonians are not monsters but rather misguided at best. Set far in the future when Earth is all but a barren and inhospitable wasteland, this story has the Hoxx who is obsessed with Earth’s history striving to build a house in the style of a twentieth century English manner to act as something of a museum. Of course, like the Doctor pointed out to Mr Copper in ‘Voyage of the Damned,’ information sometimes loses its intended meaning as centuries and millennia pass, and the Hoxx’s pomposity proves to be somewhat misplaced as the minutiae of the human experience and history are recreated in a well-intentioned but nonetheless misremembered manner.

It’s at dinner that the Doctor and Sarah learn of a trustee of Galactic Heritage who came to survey the house and experienced something so terrifying that she would not speak for the rest of her visit. The Hoxx reluctantly suggests that they may have restored the ghosts of the old priory here while restoring the house, and the Doctor is keen to explore since he is sure that ghosts are not real, wondering if the power source used could be to blame for the reported strange phenomena occurring throughout the house. With only three characters outside of the Third Doctor and his companion, ‘The House that Hoxx Built’ makes the most of its atmospheric setting to bring its intimate and visual story to life. Dan Starkey as the Hoxx, Ozioma Whenu as his ovine ward Francesca, and David Rintoul as the robot-like Butler each give a strong performance to develop the inherent mystery at the core of a fairly straightforward story well, and while there isn’t a genuine threat as such, the verbal results of a malfunctioning Butler as well as the occasional frights that Sarah and Francesca experience as the mystery deepens and dark experiences continue do well to maintain an air of tension and intrigue until the final reveal that unfortunately proves the Doctor correct and sacrifices the strengths of its ghost story at hand to focus on a much more generic science fiction explanation, albeit one with a nice connection to ‘Image of the Fendahl.’

As a Doctor Who story in general, ‘The House that Hoxx’ built is strong enough on its own merits and is certainly enjoyable, but its focus on an alien race that has featured so incredibly minimally and that has shown no hint of being a monster in any way- even in this story- is an odd decision for an audio range predicated upon featuring new monsters. At the least, the lead performances from Tim Treloar as the Third Doctor and Sadie Miller as Sarah Jane are wonderful and truly capture the spirit of friendship, optimism, and adventure that featured so heavily during the characters’ televised tenure. Big Finish has had immense success with recreating the Third Doctor era with Treloar at the helm, and while this story may not quite meet the narrative standards of so many classics within The Third Doctor Adventures range, it nonetheless showcases the strengths of its lead and supporting actors incredibly well to further develop Earth in the far future and at least one family of the Balhoonian race.

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