The Doctor and Lucie are back for a second series of Eighth Doctor Adventures! After seemingly powering through the first series, it seems only fitting that with no delay we move onto the second. Today, I’ll be reviewing Max Warp by Jonathan Morris.
Welcome to Max Warp! Broadcasting live from the Sirius Inter-G Cruiser Show. Hosted by outspoken columnist and media personality Geoffrey Vantage, with spaceship-guru-extraordinaire O’Reilley and daredevil pilot Timbo ‘the Ferret’.
When a test flight of the new Kith Sunstorm ends in disaster, the Sirius Exhibition Station is plunged into a web of murder and intrigue. Someone – or something – is trying to re-ignite a war between the Varlon Empire and the Kith Oligarchy.
As the fate of the galaxy hangs in the balance, only two investigators, the Doctor and Lucie, can hope to uncover the truth.
So strap yourself in, engage thrust, and prepare for… Max Warp!
Right from the off, you can tell that Max Warp is a parody of the “Golden Age” of Top Gear, which featured Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond. Even Max Warp’s music is reminiscent of Jessica, the piece of music that is more commonly known as the Top Gear theme tune. (You learn something new every day on GallifreyArchive, don’t you?)
After the pre-titles, the Doctor and Lucie appear to have materialised right into the heart of Sirius Inter-G Cruiser Show. The Doctor and Lucie are soon watching the filming of Max Warp, with Geoffrey Vantage (the Jeremy Clarkson of the group) at the helm. There’s also Timbo “the Ferret” (or Richard Hammond, who, for those uninitiated in Top Gear and The Grand Tour, is commonly known as “the Hamster) who’s testing out some new space-travelling tech. Then there’s O’Reilley, the James May clone, who everybody abuses. It’s not too long before Timbo crashes into a moon. It’s like proper Top Gear.
It’s not too long before the Doctor and Lucie are on the case of Timbo’s death, as they believe that somebody sabotaged with the ship he was piloting for the show. Lucie’s attempt at detective work is thoroughly enjoyable to hear, as she tries her very best to be the next Sherlock Holmes, and pretty much fails spectacularly.
Once the Doctor and Lucie are on the case, it seems that whoever orchestrated Timbo’s demise is also trying to make sure that the Doctor and Lucie suffer from the same fate. Although, as always in Doctor Who, not all is as it seems… The Doctor and Lucie are back on the case.
Lucie Miller manages to wiggle her way undercover as Lucie Vauxhall Nova, a new female presenter on Max Warp, who is seemingly replacing Timbo. Vantage, being the out-and-proud misogynist that he is, isn’t too keen, and the dynamic between Lucie and Geoffrey lends itself to some really lighthearted gender politics.
Whilst Lucie is on Max Warp, it’s up to the Doctor to get to know President Varlon, a woman who’s so desperate to keep her approval rating high whilst her presidency is on the verge of collapse, that it seems as if she’d do anything to stay relevant. It’s strange how a story that was released a decade ago is able to reflect current UK politics.
During the final act of Max Warp, it seems that President Varlon’s plan to keep peace between her and the Kith has failed, and a Kith Battle Fleet is on it’s way. Not only is there a murderer hiding amongst the people of the Sirius Inter-G Cruiser Show, but there’s also an entire planets army heading towards them to obliterate everyone. It seems that the people who are around to watch Max Warp might well be thrown into a Max War. (I’m aware that was awful, but I don’t care.)
The conclusion to Max Warp, whilst the Doctor manages to deduce who the culprit was, is incredibly like fun to listen to, and if you like Miss Marple or Poirot, you’ll feel right at home here. Why nobody has cast Paul McGann as a sleuth yet, I do not know; his vocal delivery of the material makes you hang on to every last word.
On the surface, you might think that Max Warp is just a Top Gear parody, featuring some Scooby-Doo like elements with a mystery to be solved. And you’d be right. That is the surface layer of this story. If you scratch beneath it though, there’s a lot of political intrigue involved as well; and Jonathan Morris manages to weave the lighthearted nature of the show Max Warp with the harder hitting themes brilliantly. If you’ve ever been put off of this release because cars or spaceships aren’t your thing, then I’d say that you’re missing out on one hell of a fun tale.
Should you want to purchase Max Warp, it’s currently available from Big Finish here for £8.99 for the download, or £10.99 for the CD.