Tom Baker is dead!
Or so it would appear…
Today we will be reviewing the first episode of the new saga, Baker’s End, entitled The King of Cats. It’s without a doubt the strangest audio I’ve ever listened to, but for all the right reasons. An audio that touches on a sad topic of Tom Bakers death and transforms it into an unusual comedy that I never saw (or heard) coming.
Peevish ACTORS are descending mournfully upon the remote English village of HAPPENSTANCE for the funeral of TV legend TOM BAKER. His one-time co-star Suzy Goshawk is SUCKED into a PAROCHIAL vortex of intrigue involving the quailsome local vicar, Tom’s acidulous housekeeper Mrs Frimbly and various other fruminous SCUMBLEBUMS. None of them can agree upon how Tom met his disastrous end and Suzy is starting to suspect that something MURKSOME and SWERVISH is going on.
The snow comes down and SUZY finds herself trapped at BAKER’S END for Christmas, with all the village’s creepy pensioners enslaved by a strange, dancing dragon… and a Sinister Presence LURKING on the sidelines.
Why are old ladies TWERKING their BOTTOMS outside the post office-cum-mini-mart? Why is the vicar creeping about in the bushes in the dead of night? And why, just when all looks hopeless, does a strange, scobberlotching creature SPROING into view? Who exactly is THE KING OF CATS in his furry costume and his battered golden crown?
Also, there are elderly MUMBLECRUSTS who shoot LASERS out of their KNOCKERS.
Now when beginning this audio, I really didn’t know what to expect. Of course anything with Tom Baker was going to be a great listen and for it to be a comedy. I knew I was going to be something special as both go hand in hand. I’d never listened to a Bafflegab Production before and was curious of how it would hold up to the other audio productions I had listened to. Before I started, I read the synopsis which you can see above. Even the synopsis sounded mad yet it was very intriguing what kind of story was to be told. Even from the beginning of the King of Cats you hear the upbeat music which really sets what will be a very comedic tale. This is by no means an audio to be taken seriously as you will soon find out.
We first meet the character Suzy on a train played by the brilliant Katy Manning. Manning is fantastic in this story and really takes the spotlight as narrator. Tom Baker is also incredible too and really takes the spotlight along with Manning. We meet Suzy on a train on her way to Tom’s funeral. A dark topic yet even from the start you know not all is what it seems. A former actress approaches her on the train, also on her way to Tom’s funeral. The actress begins to talk to Suzy about the old days of working with Tom and being painted green for her part in an episode (an obvious nod to Classic Doctor Who). They begin to talk how Tom past and how she was at conventions. She begins to talk about how Tom was in a strange mood whilst at a convention which straight away sets the mystery of the episode. This begins the first flashback scene that happens multiple times in the story. We hear Tom paranoid about certain people being doppelgangers. In this scene he is highly is suspicious of the fans at a convention as he proclaims “some of them aren’t even real fans…some of these people have not seen every single episode!” I love this type of comedy as it makes fun of the fandom and exaggerates certain elements. This sets the episode well giving a glimpse the type of humour this story will have and how it is definitely one not to be taken seriously.
Suzy then arrives at the village of Happenstance: the main location of the story were all the strange goings-on unfold. Everyone then gathers they’re way to the church. Suzy then encounters more characters who again start to discuss Tom’s death. During this scene it turns out Tom Baker is not at all dead as his unforgettable voice is heard. It was obvious the actor could by no means be dead yet raises your curiosity of what plans Baker is planning and why he had the urge to fake his death in the first place. What could Tom’s plans be?
Its shown strongly that Tom’s death is rather unusual and the characters don’t have a believable or substantial reason of how this iconic actor had passed. Characters pass theories of his demise one of which being run over by a TV Licensed detector van and was paranoid that dopplegangers were spying on him. After the incident, it is said his body disappeared and was nowhere to be found. This again followed by a flashback. I love these multiple flashbacks as you are unsure what theory is true and really makes you want to find out what really happened to Tom Baker.
After, the funeral is followed by a wake at the cottage Baker’s End. We then meet Tom’s housekeeper Mrs Frimbly who apparently looked after Tom for many years. Suzy is again intrigued by Tom’s death and asks Frimbly what really was the cause of Baker’s unfortunate demise. Fimbly’s theory also seems insufficitiant as she explains he fell from a great height on rooftops naked on the post office. This was because he thought they were in contact with men from out of space from their aerial. The vicar also isn’t much help either as he explains all the theories Suzy has been told throughout the day are nonsense yet has no time to explain what really happened. The mystery deepens what happened to the much beloved actor. After the wake, Suzy is outside at night and a dog starts barking at something in the dark and snow…
After Suzy begins to explain what happened outside with the dog and believing something strange was outside, Mrs Frimbly explains that Suzy can’t go back to London as the trains have already left and the snow is too deep. In the circumstances, Suzy has to stay at Happenstance in the spare room. When listening to this I couldn’t help but think of a scenario like The Shining taking place. You can tell that something is slightly odd that is happening and you don’t really know who to trust. Happenstance is also snowed in so Suzy is trapped. This really raises the tensions of the story as there is nowhere for Suzy to go.
Suzy is again curious of Tom’s demise. Suzy offers to get groceries for Mrs Frimbly. When she walks to the shop she sees a crowd of people dancing and hears the loud music. One of the men is dressed as a Dragon we will later know as Klacky. Suzy isn’t amused by this yet is confused why everyone is acting this way. When finally entering the shop, she encounters the vicar. The vicar warns her of dark business happening in Happenstance. After he leaves, the post mistress then tells Suzy to be careful of the vicar who apparently sneaks around in the night around the village. You really don’t know who to trust. She then suddenly starts to scream and goes out dancing with the rest of the crowd. Is the town just mad or is there something more mysterious at hand?
Later back in the cottage, Suzy begins to examine Tom’s books. She takes one that appears to be some kind of diary extract from Tom. Tom in extract talks about some kind of Goblin workers building a tower for Tom. Again more mystery is added to the story yet getting increasingly madder. The next morning, Suzy opens the book again and all the pages are now blank…
The scene then changes to the vicar trying to tempt something outside through the graves. You really don’t know if this Vicar is insane or something really is going on in this strange village. Suzy interrupts the vicar which then scares away the creature confirmed by the vicar to be a cat.
The next day, there are more people dancing outside the post office. Suzy then realises that oddly there are no children in the village of Happenstance and only those above the age of 50 (except the vicar). Within the crowd, the vicar is just as bemused as Suzy as he refuses to interact with this mad crowd of dancing villagers. The vicar even exclaims “Jesus Christ!” in anger at the villagers rather questionable dancing which is rather amusing. The vicar angers the crowd causing the dancers to turn angrily against the vicar. Suzy suggests to the vicar to go to the church as the crowd begin to attack the vicar. One of the villagers exclaims that Klacky needs a sacrifice. Its intriguing just who this Klacky is and why this village are so dedicated to him.
The villagers follow the vicar to the church as they try to attack. Desperately, the vicar tries to get to the church door until Tom Baker appears! Or otherwise known as The King of the Cats which is taken very literally indeed. Tom Baker appears as a giant cat to the crowd who makes the villagers flee in fear as he brags about his mighty power. Tom Baker then tell Suzy and the Vicar to follow him.
Anxiously Suzy and the Vicar follow Tom to his tombstone. With a simple “Open Sesame”” the tomb opens which reveals a tunnel. I love this part of the audio as it feels we are learning more about what Tom is up to yet makes you wonder what the meaning of his strange plans. They then enter the long corridor of the tunnel. The audio also breaks the fourth wall as Suzy continues her narrating and Tom interrupts her and mentions the audience listening at home!
In the next scene we Mrs Frimbly on the phone to a mysterious, parrot sounding voice who says Tom is back in Happenstance as a Cat. She’s says they must take action as Tom is seeing through their scheme and he knows all about the dopplegangers. Does this mean Mrs Frimbly is the enemy in this audio and Tom wasn’t being hysterical after all? This raises the listener’s uncertainty on who to really trust.
Tom, Suzy and the Vicar then reach the end of the tunnel to the bottom of Tom’s garden. Dozens of books were across the garden. Only Tom seems not surprised by the strange state his garden is in as he sits happily in his deck chair. Suzy then states the obvious and questions why Tom is wearing the cat costume. Tom denies that is a costume and says he has been reincarnated in this new form. Suzy isn’t convinced at how realistic the costume and doesn’t believe Tom’s ludicrous story. Tom warns Suzy about the “listeners” as she speaks and says they are the doppelgangers. Where we listeners what made Tom paranoid all along? This audio really makes you feel involved in the audio and gives a very interesting take on the story. Tom wanders off again and the vicar suggests to get Mrs Frimbly to help them calm Tom down. Suzy at first rejects this idea as she believes Mrs Frimbly has been acting rather oddly and does not trust her; she then agrees to get her to help.
Tom shouts and says to come and see something. What Suzy sees is Tom’s book tower made out of hunks of rock such as smashed gravestones. Suzy wonders who have been building this tower as high as Tom’s cottage. Tom replies to say Goblins and Gremlins have been helping his build it so at last Tom can have a chance to read his books which he never had time for because of his busy schedule of his career. Like the listeners, Suzy questions if these creatures are really real and are helping Tom into his unusual retirement. Tom answers that they are from other worlds. It’s hard to define what really this audio is. Is it a mystery or is it a fantasy/sci-fi story? All these elements are intertwining into one which makes the mystery of this village so much bigger.
Now with Mrs Frimbly, Tom yet again reveals his demise was untrue to her. Mrs Frimbly seems curious of Tom which seems substantial seeing as he’s come back as a cat. Mrs Frimbly also isn’t amused about this business with the Goblins and a tower of gravestones being built in his garden. She even confirms it’s not the first time Tom has faked his death for fun. However, it’s not the first time he has faked his own reincarnation. While Suzy and Mrs Frimsbly talk and Tom looks through his books; Tom suddenly announces he’s found a magic spell that he believes will be useful. This becomes significant to the end of the story.
When Tom opens the door, three dead eyed villagers were standing outside proclaiming to take him away and threatening too smoother him their bosoms (yes you’ve read that correctly). Suddenly lasers fire from their chests. The characters then flee. Whilst running, Tom thinks it would be good to take sanctuary in the church for safety.
Frimbly is on the phone again to the mysterious voice saying they must go to their final phase as the agents of destruction have acted prematurely however things must go as planned. The voice says Klacky will not be pleased…
When approaching the church, it is closed and the women are getting closer. Thankfully, the vicar opens the door. Tom suggests they should go to roof and drop something on the laser shooting women. On the roof, they grab hold of a statue of a saint (apparently one of the less important ones) and drop it off the roof which squashes the old ladies of destruction. When they all think victory is succeed, they soon realise there’s one other threat still out there: Klacky. They soon realise that the Dragon is on the very church roof they are standing. When they begin reasoning with Klacky, they hear the familiar parrot sounding voice again. This character finally reveals its self as a medieval looking monk with no face who says “Klacky wants to kill you all!”
Suddenly, the clouds part from the moon and bells begin chiming for Christmas Eve. Klacky’s helper is alarmed as he says a portal is opening and he and his master Klacky must leave. Suzy reminds Tom of a magic incantation in his books. Tom remembers and starts reading the spell which is the Hokey Cockey. They all start to join in and sing and the enemies get taken back to their own dimension through a great big hole above the post office that they get sucked into. Tom explains by being on top of the post office before his demise, he tampered with the satellite disc and messed with their plans. Still didn’t explain why he was naked though…
They return to Baker’s End and toss to their victory in Happenstance and to the listeners at home. And that brings an end to the story. Personally I thought how they defeat the villains was a silly yet fun way of destroying them. However, I thought it was a bit convenient to the plot. I would have liked a clever way to defeat them that could have been hinted throughout the audio giving contrast to what seemed like a funny childish story.
Overall this story was really enjoyable yet is definitely not one to be taken serious. This story is purposely silly yet makes it greatly entertaining and unexpected for the listener. All the characters are lovable and Katy Manning plays her part as Suzie brilliantly. Tom Baker to no surprise is brilliant as usual and always fun to listen to. Some parts of the audio raise a lot of questions which aren’t answered by the end of the audio and don’t make much sense. However, we still more stories of Baker’s End to listen to which may reveal more answers. The way they defeated the villains seemed too simple however I guess it’s meant to be nonsensical for the enjoyment of the listener. If you want to listen to a story without a serious plot and is an easy yet very enjoyable listen; then this is the audio for you!
All in all, Baker’s End is bonkers, bananas, bombastic, bamboozling, bodacious and brilliant!
Should you want to purchase Baker’s End: The King of Cats, it’s being released from Bafflegab on September 2nd, and can be purchased here as a download for £6.99 or as a CD for £9.99!