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120. The Magic Mousetrap

Synopsis
Switzerland, 1926: the Doctor finds himself halfway up an Alpine mountainside, on his way to an exclusive sanatorium for the rich and famous run by the Viennese alienist Ludovic ‘Ludo’ Comfort. In between bouts of electric shock therapy, Ludo’s patients – including faded music hall turn Harry Randall, chess grandmaster Swapnil Khan and Lola Luna, darling of the Weimar cabaret scene – fill their time with endless rounds of Snap!, among other diversions.

But the Doctor soon suspects that someone’s playing an altogether more sinister game. Someone with a score to settle…
Starring
Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor), Sophie Aldred (Ace), Philip Olivier (Hex), Paul Anthony-Barber (Ludovic Comfort), Joan Walker (Lola Luna), Nadim Sawalha (Swapnil Khan), Nadine Lewington (Queenie Glasscock), Andrew Fettes (Harry Randall), Andrew Dickens (Herbert Randall)
Written By
Directed By
Ken Bentley

Ratings

RatingMembers
10
(33)
9
(25)
8
(24)
7
(3)
6
(11)
5
(0)
4
(0)
3
(0)
2
(0)
1
(1)
8.6
97 rating(s) submitted

0% (0/6) of raters say this story requires listening to previous stories.

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Recent Ratings
Rated 9/10 on 2/1/14 10:44 am
Rated 6/10 on 2/1/14 2:36 am
Rated 10/10 on 1/21/14 8:55 pm
Rated 8/10 on 1/19/14 8:41 pm
Rated 6/10 on 12/18/13 1:54 pm
Rated 8/10 on 12/8/13 6:49 am
Rated 7/10 on 11/27/13 5:22 pm
Rated 7/10 on 10/1/13 12:51 am
Rated 9/10 on 7/30/13 3:36 pm
Rated 10/10 on 6/30/13 6:05 pm

Reviews

(Highest - Lowest)

10 Rated 10/10 on 2/1/14 3:12 pm
2 out of 2 found this review helpful.
One of my personal favourites. Taking place in a loony house in Switzerland (apparently), we get a great cast of characters, along with an amnesiac Doctor, a hilarious script and a sense of wonderment. It starts out as a mismatch, purposefully of course, and the plot slowly comes together as important details get revealed, and eventually it becomes one of the smartest plots Big Finish has pulled off, in my opinion.

Ace and Hex spend a lot of this story working in the shadows. Not as epic as A Death in the Family, but a lot more fun and slightly more believable. As I mentioned the Doctor suffers from amnesia due to a factor in his master plan, and it's great to see Seven as somewhat of a confused old man, and even better to see him in control afterwards.

The Celestial Toymaker is one of my favourite villains in the series, despite his awful TV serial. This time he takes the form of a wooden doll, who was defeated by his victims with the help of the Doctor, and imprisoned in their minds. Until it's revealed that he was in control all along. A very, very good twist. He also gets one of the most gruesome scenes I've ever heard during one of his games, as he electrocutes one of his victims to death.
10
Review By Gcookscotland
Rated 10/10 on 5/27/13 1:24 pm
0 out of 1 found this review helpful.
The Doctor takes on the toymaker in a confusing episode but it excellent
Reviewer Says: No previous stories required.
10
Review By chriswannell
Rated 10/10 on 7/20/11 1:13 pm
0 out of 1 found this review helpful.
I really enjoyed this play and can't praise it enough. Well worth listening to with enough weirdness to keep you bemused but it all makes sence in the end.
10
Review By EscapeSwitch
Rated 10/10 on 11/24/10 3:44 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.
SPOILERS!


Another highly effective story from Matthew Sweet, "The Magic Mousetrap" gives us more of what made "Year Of The Pig" so enjoyable. The dialogue is especially sparky, and also very funny in places. We have a strange situation made all the stranger for its familiar trappings and characters, and the tragic plight of the sanatorium inhabitants is rather more skillfully drawn than that of their counterparts in "The Celestial Toymaker". Sylvester McCoy gets to exercise his more madcap side during the Snakes & Ladders sequence, and he's a joy to listen to. Ace and Hex too get to enjoy themselves a little more than is usual, Sophie Aldred and Philip Olivier clearly having fun as Bunty and Bobo.

"The Magic Mousetrap" evokes the Seventh Doctor era brilliantly, is original and exciting, and you'll rarely hear a better Big Finish.
10
Review By Timelord63
Rated 10/10 on 10/12/10 6:08 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.
A real standout classic full of clever and witty writing. On first listen and with no foreknowledge of the story, the mystery of the situation is fascinating and incredibly well done (though I'd guessed the foe from the pre-release info - no spoilers, but for me, yay!! :)). On a second listen it manages the impossible and gets better! Superb stuff.
10
Review By jhuxford
Rated 10/10 on 8/18/10 5:33 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.
The story probably leaves the listener thinking "what the Hell's going on?" for half an episode too long.

Still, this is superb work from Matthew Sweet - intriguing, smart and echoingly eerie. And a real shift in style after "Year of the Pig" (another excellent release.)
10
Review By fadladder
Rated 10/10 on 8/18/10 5:33 pm
0 out of 1 found this review helpful.
Fantastic story well told with great acting. Who could want more?
9
Review By Sibarite
Rated 9/10 on 1/3/13 5:38 pm
0 out of 1 found this review helpful.
How surprising that this was so good! The only complaint could be that i found it a tad long as most of the first 3 episodes is largely just filled with weird events and even stranger dialogue and characters but it fits perfectly with the appearance of the "surprise" villain and the resolution. Creepy, scary and insane - perfect 7th Doctor material.
9
Review By Megaplumfinity
Rated 9/10 on 1/18/11 2:32 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.
Excellent story! Funny, inventive and atmospheric. The tone is perfectly balanced between humour and spookiness leading to a fantastically unsettling final episode.
9
Review By bianco2nero
Rated 9/10 on 8/20/10 6:25 pm
0 out of 1 found this review helpful.
The first two episodes in particular are wonderfully done though the final plot resolution is a little disappointing in the latter stages. A very fine play none the less.
8
Review By komodo
Rated 8/10 on 8/9/12 8:12 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.
There is a lot of emphasis in the reversal of roles in this one. Rather than the traditional tale of the Doctor manipulating Ace and/or Hex we find them manipulating him in a situation he doesn't understand. It sounds grand that the roles are reversed, but in trth there is no role reversal at all, as in either case it is the listener being deceived and that stays true here so there is no real difference for us.

This one gets your attention right from the title. "The Magic Mousetrap" a combination of the magic mountain and Agetha Christie's Moustrap. Being unfamiliar with the former I found hmyself disappointed that the mystery writer had been removed from the story. What we were left with was a macabre dance of madness as the Celestial toymaker was slowly revealed as the villain of the piece. Perhaps it was madness to bring back a lost character, but it worked well.

The real madness though was in the inclusion of a character that did not speak in an audio play. The genius of it was that the character was well developed, likeable and interesting.

All put together this is a good story and wonderfully acted. When you get past the cliched madness at the start, the final two parts are extremely good.
Reviewer Says: No previous stories required.
8
Review By Crystal Logic
Rated 8/10 on 8/3/12 1:17 pm
2 out of 2 found this review helpful.
I used to say that Colin Baker's Doctor got the best scripts and put in the best performance. I still think Colin's performance is top-notch, but lately I think Big Finish has really hit their stride with the stories featuring Sylvester Mccoy as the Seventh Doctor. The television show ended in 1989 just when it was starting to get great again after several years of floundering with only the occasional masterpiece showing up, and it's nice to see some of these audios picking up essentially where things left off back then, only introducing some interesting new elements.

This story really worked for me. it's macabre and creepy, but in a quiet, understated sort of way. The script is full of clever wit and the actors are of a uniformly high calibre. A story set in a 1920s Swiss sanitorium where people are forced to play twisted games with very high stakes just invites the gothic stereotypes, and they do appear, but I've always been rather fond of such things, myself, and their inclusion here is far from unwelcome. The story features a villainous character from a 1966 television serial that barely anybody has seen, The Celestial Toymaker. It plays with the concept of the Toymaker in a really novel way and even comments on his problematic (to some) depiction in the original story as a "mysterious and evil oriental" archetype. One of the characters here even compares him to Fu- Manchu, who was of course very popular in the 1920s. The Toymaker has now been turned into one of his own creations, sort of, and is forced to quietly manipulate things in the form of a talking doll with an eerie voice. You can even hear the mechanical clicking and whirring whenever his mouth moves!

The story also offers an interesting inversion of the usual tropes, in that at the outset the Doctor has the least idea of anybody what is going on, and over halfway through the story his companions have to fill in his lost memory. I was pretty lost through the first episode myself, though I certainly enjoyed the ride....and once the story started to come together it all began to make perfect sense. I think the cliffhanger ending to episode one is a bit misjudged, myself (a common problem with these audios, I find)....the script seems to be working to underplay associations with past stories in a way and is the opposite of an obsessed continuity-fest, so having the reveal of the Toymaker act as the "sting" at the end of the first part doesn't too clever, especially as it would only really mean much to the old diehards.

Once again, McCoy's stories come out on top in audio form, and this one's a riveting way to enjoy an hour and a half, if you're a Doctor Who fan who also feels a connection with a bit of gothic horror.

Oh, and that musical chairs song is about the most genius annoying piece of music I've ever heard. If I could make it a maddening background noise to this review, I'd do it!
8
Review By Eiphel
Rated 8/10 on 8/18/10 5:33 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.
The Magic Mousetrap is a 'season opener' that reintroduces us to Ace, Hex and the Doctor, and gives a definite sense of a shifting equilibrium. It's also the weirdy mind-bending episode of the series, and the human sci-fi story. I had been avoiding getting my hopes up, after hearing Forty-Five hailed as a classic and being disappointed, I was worried the same would happen here. After the first part I was still bracing myself for a disappointment. But, no, this genuinely is a minor classic, one that shows the McCoy team are at the best they've ever been and gives them loads to play with. A great opener that sets the 'revamped' tone of these mini-season. 8/10