Doctor Who: Mind of the Hodiac
Starring: Colin Baker, Bonnie Langford, Sutara Gayle, Laurie Kynaston, and T’Nia Miller.
Written by: Russell T. Davies & Scott Handcock
Directed by: Scott Handcock
“We will be their NEW gods! For a…reasonable fee, of course.”
A rediscovered curio from the 1980s becomes a powerfully entertaining example of Classic Doctor Who at its best in Big Finish Productions’ Doctor Who: Mind of the Hodiac. One of the latest efforts from Big Finish’s “The Lost Stories” range. But one that comes with a bit of extra star power. Both behind the scenes and throughout its wildly talented cast.
During the “Lockdown” tweet-alongs, fan-organizer, new Big Finish producer Emily Cook, and fan-favorite Who scribe Russell T. Davies discovered something unexpected. They entirely wrote the first half of a script (unbidden by the BBC hilariously) for a Sixth Doctor and Mel story. While searching for the first draft of Series 3 episode “Gridlock,” Davies found something else.
Entitled Mind of the Hodiac, set both in deep space and present-day (nee: 1980s) London. It focused on a materialistic, powerfully psychic alien called The Hodiac and a young mother living with her mother and two daughters. All under some oppressively creepy threat from beyond, manifesting as “ghosts” and flying objects, turning their home into a war zone. The Hodiac dominates galactic markets and concentrates on totems of The Doctor. All in a feverish search for his…”other.”
Ultimately, the script was commissioned by Big Finish Productions and then completed by long-time Big Finish writer and script editor Scott Handcock (who also serves as the story’s director). And the complete adventure is a belter, arguably one of the best of Big Finish’s “The Lost Stories” range.
Centrally, this has to do with the sheer amount of love you can feel from the Mind of the Hodiac. On the scripting level and throughout the performances. Despite being first written in the 80s, fans will immediately recognize the wit and wonder of Russell T. Davies. His mixture of the mundane and fantastical translates across the Sixth Doctor and Mel’s “era” of Doctor Who. And further richly performed by Colin Baker and Bonnie Langford, both of whom continue the stirringly heartfelt dynamic that Big Finish has fostered between them.
Similarly, that same power extends to the rest of the cast. And what a cast it is! Though some early London-based scenes drag a bit compared to the Hodiac-focused narrative in deep space, every cast member gives it their all, marshaled by naturalistic and pointed direction from Handcock.
Laurie Kynaston and The Haunting of Bly Manor scene-stealer T’Nia Miller provide a strange cooingly double-act as The Hodiac and Mrs. Maitland, his acolyte-like “handler,” who are starkly grounded contrasts as we then focus on Sutara Gayle’s Nan and her harried, but loving family. Holding their ground against forces beyond their ken and drawn into a galactic-scaled conflict.
To say any more would spoil some of Mind of the Hodiac’s most powerful and heart-bursting feints. But trust me when I say that Mind of the Hodiac is Doctor Who at it’s finest. Filled to the brim with grand ideas, immensely clever scripting, and richly realized characters, Doctor Who: Mind of the Hodiac is a grand example of how high Doctor Who can soar when creatives and performers care.