Ah, the Baker’s End trilogy from Bafflegab; a trilogy or pure unadulterated silliness and British bizarrity from the mind of Paul Magrs. The final act of the Baker’s End trilogy is out today, but will Tatty Bogle be a fitting end to the trilogy? There’s only one way to find out, my cool cats!
It’s raining blood on the village of Happenstance.
As the end of summer beckons the local folk are planning the Festival of Tatty Bogle. Hideous scarecrows are appearing all over the place, and almost everyone is behaving as if they’re fudgeknocking bananas.
Retired TV star Tom Baker is in the garden making friends with cabbages (especially Eric) and Mrs Frimbly is up to curious, malinky deeds of her own. Before the festival is over there’ll be ritual sacrifice, a nasty homunculus and an almighty ruckus in the front parlour.
But that’s not all.
Tom has had a word with the ferryman and it’s all aboard the ferryboat as it glides through the Kinching Morts Of Midnight…
We’re all going to Hell.
And it looks a lot like Middlesbrough.
Tom Baker is still a cat. Of course he is. Why wouldn’t he be? Luckily for the Tom cat, it’s not long before some hijinks ensues; two children knock on the door of Baker’s End, claiming to know secrets of Tom’s housekeeper, Mrs Frimbly. How very ominous. It seems that Happenstance is about to paid a visit by a mysterious creature known as Tatty Bogle; and when they arrive, Baker’s End is doomed.
One of the many, many things I like about Baker’s End is that it never takes itself seriously, and it’s given Tom Baker his wish. There’s a rumour in the Doctor Who community that when Tom was playing the Doctor, that he said he should have a talking cabbage as a companion; of course, this never came to be, but in the final release of this first Baker’s End trilogy (we’ve been told that more are coming), Tom gets his wish. Tom gets a cabbage companion. Kind of.
I have to commend Paul Margs for making me extremely interested in the mystery of Mrs Frimbly straight from the get go in this release. Having learned little about Mrs Frimbly in The King of Cats and Gobbleknoll Hall, the idea that all this time she’s been up to no good in the background is a genius move; and almost certainly will make you want to go back and see if you missed any clues in the previous two stories.
Considering that the Baker’s End stories seem to revel in their farcical nature, I have to admit I was surprised when there’s a moment of genuine horror, both for Suzy and the listener. The sound design and script married perfectly to create an incredibly spooky and bloodcurdling scene. It seems that the children were right; Mrs Frimbly really is up to something.
Who knew that Happenstance rains blood every thirteen years? Well, Mrs Frimbly did, but both Tom and Suzy seem to be in shock; especially because Tom is scared of his vegetable friends (including Eric the cabbage) being drenched in blood and being uncomfortable. At least Tom cares, right?
If you’ve listened to all three stories in Baker’s End, you’ve probably come to the conclusion that you shouldn’t let anything surprise you; if you expect the unexpected, the unexpected will so unexpected that you didn’t even unexpect it originally. Something I didn’t anticipate was Tom breaking the fourth wall, seemingly knowing that there were listeners to his adventures; this brings up dozens of new questions and possibilities, most namely, why hasn’t Tom acknowledged us before? It really brings you into the story.
Personally, I’m surprised how far into the story it is before Tom and Suzy journey to Hell; I thought the majority of the story would be set in Hell, but it’s not until around the forty-minute mark before there’s any mention of even travelling there. I have to say, the journey to Hell is rather pleasant, if you can keep your cool.
Having Tom Baker in Hell is a stroke of genius, especially when he’s with a cabbage (and Suzy). The Queen of Hell is a brilliant character; a dominatrix who seems to take great pleasure in whipping Tom Baker. That’s honestly a sentence I never expected to type. Who’d’ve thought you’d listen to a story in which an 83 year old man would be engaged in hellish BDSM? That’s what you get in Baker’s End, folks!
Now, I’m not going to spoil the end of Tatty Bogle, but I will tell you that Eric the Cabbage has a part to play in the finale, and there’s a great cameo from a character from Baker’s End of old. It really did make me grin like an idiot. What a nice little callback and one hell of a twist; it’s very Scooby-Doo.
If there’s one gripe I have about Tatty Bogle, it’s how quickly it seems to end; there’s a big build up to what’s going on with Mrs Frimbly in Hell, and then, quick as a flash, there’s the revelation and then the story ends. Personally, I wish there was less time in the build up to Hell, more time there and a slightly more satisfactory end; although it’s obvious that there’ll be repercussions from the end of this story in the next release, whenever that may be.
Overall, Tatty Bogle is a fun way to spend an hour, it’s far more horror-based than the previous two entries in the Baker’s End series, and has a different feel to it. It’s less ridiculous humour and more ridiculous horror; and personally, I really enjoyed the tonal shift. Paul Magrs is obviously a gifted scriptwriter, the entire cast were on top form and Bafflegab has proven once again that they can create great sound design and editing, giving Big Finish a run for their money.
Should you want to purchase Baker’s End: Tatty Bogle, it’s available now from Bafflegab, and can be purchased here as a download for £6.99 or as a CD for £9.99!