The Merfolk Murders

Posted in Audio by - April 13, 2024
The Merfolk Murders

Released April 2024


In 1940 St Andrews, a university student society continues to meet through the summer to escape the horrors of wartime through discussions about famed murder mystery stories. In Tim Foley’s ‘The Merfolk Murders’ within this The Dream Team set, a genuine murder strikes at the society’s core, ensnaring the Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan, and Adric in its intrigue as the subject of the club’s latest literary focus The Casebook of Orion Hood proves to be all too familiar.

These three companions, of course, began their tenures aboard the TARDIS alongside the Fourth Doctor, and while there is often little to no reference about that earlier incarnation as this group’s travels continue, all of them recognizing the cover illustration depicting the detective Orion Hood as their friend- complete with deerstalker- is a fantastic nod to the Doctor’s many previous adventures and to Sarah Jane Smith who under the pseudonym of Sarah Jane Watson is listed as its author. And once a murder transpires within this literary group as they pass through, it’s also fitting that Tegan should take on the role of Watson to the Holmes she needles the Fifth Doctor into becoming once again given the relative lack of response from and information available to the local police force. Peter Davison and Janet Fielding share a brilliant chemistry that perfectly shows the Doctor becoming more and more entranced by the mystery before him despite his pointed proclamations that he does not wish to become involved in these affairs, and Tegan’s enthusiasm as she takes the initiative to seek out her own clues based on facts she has ascertained is a testament to the character and of the human spirit, a spirit the Doctor is sure to temper as he caustically remarks that humans are one of only a few species in the universe that kills its own members out of spite and pride.

Foley does a great job introducing and developing all of the guest characters, allowing each to flourish into a well-rounded person with well-understood emotions, motivations, and secrets that slowly come to light. At a time when Polish soldiers have taken up residence here, that fragile façade of normality within wartime is maintained well throughout, and the Doctor’s reputation reaching this far as concerns about spies increase only further add to the overall tension behind what seems to be an impossible murder and the apparent continuing attempts at further lives. Indeed, it’s primarily through the interactions from Nyssa and Adric that these characters continue to shine and develop, and having both develop friendships with romantic undertones allows the story to take on a much more emotional and sensitive tone that brings forth certain facets of these companions that are rarely seen. Both Sarah Sutton and Matthew Waterhouse perform wonderfully throughout as their characters’ pasts and previous losses are revisited as they investigate this mystery from different angles, and the obvious sense of family present for all of the four leads is evident from the start as pasts and futures alike are discussed.

Josie Lawrence as Professor Hodgson, Tom Alexander as Private Kowalski, Pearl Appleby as sisters Athena and Anna, Angus Imrie as Sebastian, and Will Kirk as Henry all combine to present a layered and nuanced mystery in which any of the suspects- or indeed none- may be guilty. There are the occasional bits of clunky dialogue as certain pieces of necessary information and clues must be brought to the attention of the audience and characters, and some of the scene shifts- especially initially- can be quite jarring as the scene is set and characters introduced, but ‘The Merfolk Murders’ as a whole is a truly engaging mystery from beginning to end that uses its focus on very human characters and emotions to tremendous effect, once more proving that Doctor Who is truly able to thrive in any genre. It doesn’t redefine the murder mystery genre, but it doesn’t need to, and its obvious homages to the likes of Agatha Christie make this a must-listen at least once.

This post was written by

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.