It's a cracking show, looking at the latest, fastest, sleekest models. There's three guys who present it: an old, politically incorrect guy who's well known for his outspoken nature and his support of the armed forces; there's the younger, cooler one, named after a a furry rodent; and there's the older, duller mechanical spod who likes talking about mechanics.
It's all going so well right up until that young cool one goes and crashes an experimental vehicle and dies.
Hang on. Dies? That can't be right.
Did you think I was talking about Top Gear?
No, of course you didn't. I wrote Doctor Who at the top for one thing. No, this is the spaceship show 'Max Warp', starring the vocal talents of Graeme Garden, James Fleet and Duncan James (who used to be a pop star or something). And you can hear it in the latest, and possibly the most tasteless Big Finish Doctor Who play so far.
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!
Is it any good?
Everyone seems to be having fun. The Top Gear parody is well observed. It has a fantastic cast (apart from Duncan James). Paul McGann's enjoying being funny again. Sheridan Smith has slipped into Two Pints mode – again. Nick Brimble's amusing as a West Country-accented range of spongy jelly fish things.
But it's not big and it's not clever.
There's a golden rule that if you're going to parody something, you should at least be funny and say something new – only then can you try to be tasteless. Actually, as a rule, it needs a little work, but my general point is that while it thinks it's being funny and clever, it feels like you're having your teeth extracted while watching an old episode of Mind Your Language.
Apart from the breath-taking dodginess of including Richard Hammond's near brain-removal in the lists of acceptable targets for pastiche, you'll honestly start to believe they think they're make some valid points: that Top Gear might be sexist; that Jeremy Clarkson might support the troops but has never been to war; or that James May might be a bit dull.
Was that the world stopping on its axis at these revelations? I thought not.
The jokes aren't funny and have been done a dozen times before; Lucie Miller is - incredibly - an even more irritating character than before; and none of it makes the slightest bit of sense, to such an extent that the characters are even pointing it out.
With a better script and a cast like that, this could have been a story to die for. Instead, it's just a car crash of a play.
PS The new Eighth Doctor theme tune from Dead London wasn't a one-off. It's here to stay. Why?
PPS If you're wondering where the Big Finish podcast theme came from, it's the 'Max Warp' theme. Is that enough to put you off?
How much should you have to pay?
Actual price: £10.99
Actual worth: They should pay you to listen to it.
Paul McGann (The Doctor)
Sheridan Smith (Lucie Miller)
Graeme Garden (Geoffrey Vantage)
James Fleet (O'reilley)
Duncan James (Timbo)
Nick Brimble (The Kith)
Samantha Hughes (President Varlon)
Katarina Olsson (Judd Gilbride)
Writer: Jonathan Morris
Director: Barnaby Edwards
- June 4, 2008: Review: Doctor Who - Grand Theft Cosmos
A review of the Big Finish Doctor Who audio play Grand Theft Cosmos