(Re)Gen is pleased to be inviting both actress Katy Manning and writer Paul Magrs to our 2017 event, and we’ll never forget how delightful it was having Tom Baker join us in 2015 via Skype. So Baker’s End has a special place in our hearts here at Onezumi Events, even outside of it being a weird and wonderful listen.
The fact that there’s a second episode of this frabjous series does set a few things straight about the plot: Tom Baker is not dead (though he has, according to himself, reincarnated as the King of Cats and goes about stealing gravestones), his former costar Suzy Goshawk is still at Baker’s End five months after the ‘funeral,’ and there’s definitely something murksome and swervish going on with a group of goblins and Tom’s dream diary. In the midst of the madness, we’re beginning to be able to grab at a few of the supernatural threads holding this story together — but for Episode 2, there’s an entirely different creepy venue to explore.
The eponymous Gobbleknoll Hall was once owned by a renowned glam rocker, and has captured the interest of the ghost hunters of Manifest Yourself. But Tom knows that no one should be poking around in there. Unfortunately, trying to warn them off embroils him, Suzy, and his housekeeper Mrs. Frimbly in the house’s madness… leading to Suzy saying some shocking things while possessed by a ghost.
It was interesting, in retrospect, to discover that some (not very good) paintings done by the late David Bowie inspired what eventually became the core of this piece. The vibe was most definitely there, with plenty of glam-rock anthems bleeding through the walls and a series of creepy, not-very-good paintings becoming a part of the narrative.
Most pleasing was the fact that Tom’s dialogue stays as Wonderlandian as ever, sometimes descending into near-gibberish that somehow still manages to make sense. It’s all weirdly believable, from the eldritch diary to the boozy ghosts — things that would normally be firmly in the realm of paranormal surrealism, but by virtue of the presence of Tom Baker somehow make you think ‘Yeah, I could see this.’
For me, as a fan of Charlie Brooker, easily the happiest addition to this particular episode was comedienne Diane Morgan (baffling vox-popper Philomena Cunk from Brooker’s Weekly Wipe series). It was refreshing to hear her play against type as ghost hunter Marcella, and she sounded right at home with all the rest.
Having now heard two episodes, it strikes me that Baker’s End must be difficult on many levels — they’re intricate scripts with mad plots, all held together at its core by a Team TARDIS gone equally mad. Suzy is not a stationary character: it may have been five months for her, but it’s been a single episode for us, and already we’re seeing her immerse herself as deep as possible in the mysteries of her former costar’s life. The dynamic is already Who-ish in so many ways, and deliberately so. And Katy Manning as Suzy seems to be playing very much a New Who style companion: one who becomes infected, weirdly joyously, with the old madman’s life and adventures, and finds herself becoming so central to them that she’s attracting some very real, very personal danger down on herself. The question now is, how central will Suzy become, and how changed will she be when (or if) she eventually leaves Baker’s End?
Bafflegab Productions has a real gem on their hands here, and I can only hope it continues to get made so we can hear the story through to completion. In conclusion, I’ll simply reiterate what the story itself already states quite pointedly: Buy the next fudgeknocking episode.