THE CURSE OF FENRIC

Choosing which version of The Curse of Fenric to show to Sue was trickier than I thought. The results of our poll was split right down the middle, with 51% of you saying we should stick with the broadcast version, while 49% of you wanted us to watch the Special Edition. You know, the one that makes sense. In the end, I let Sue decide.

Sue: Which one is the shortest?
Me: The broadcast version.
Sue: That one.

 

Part One

Sue: Ah, The Curse of Fenric – a proper Doctor Who title for a change. Have we had Ian Briggs before?
Me: Yes, he wrote Dragonfire.
Sue: Oh ****.

And then:

Sue: I used to work in Fenwicks. Actually, I don’t know why I said that.

The Curse of FenricThe Curse of Fenric begins with something lurking beneath the waves.

Sue: That monster is a bit wooden.
Me: Are you taking the piss?
Sue: I’ve seen better special effects. Is this a sequel to the one with the Loch Ness Monster?

I don’t think she’s joking, but I can’t be sure any more.

Sue: Is this Mark Ayres? I’m sure I’ve heard you listening to this music before. You are such a geek.

The TARDIS materialises in Northumbria during the Second World War.

Sue: Ooh, I like the Doctor’s new duffel coat. I’ve got a coat just like that, except mine’s bright orange.

The Doctor and Ace are surrounded by armed soldiers, but the troops are easily bamboozled.

Sue: What a bunch of morons. Is this a UNIT training camp?

The Curse of FenricMeanwhile, the Russian task force decide to make things easier for the viewers at home.

Sorin: From now on, everything in English.
Sue: Thank God for that. The subtitles looked like Teletext.

The Doctor and Ace introduce themselves to Dr Judson (who reminds Sue of Mark Heap from Friday Night Dinner for some inexplicable reason). The Doctor forges his credentials with some help from a nearby typewriter.

Sue: What a faff on. No wonder he invents psychic paper. So is this supposed to be Bletchley Park?
Me: It’s very similar.
Sue: Good. I like the historicals.

A Russian soldier is attacked by something on the beach.

Sue: Where is his ****ing gun?

The Curse of FenricNot far away, outside St. Jude’s church.

Sue: Oh it’s him… Hang on a minute… What the hell is he doing in Doctor Who?

Once she gets over the initial shock, and she realises that Nicholas Parsons can act, Sue calms down a bit.

Sue: Nicolas Parsons has the look of a silver-haired Patrick McGoohan.

That’s not something you hear every day.

Meanwhile, in Commander Millington’s Nazi hideaway.

Sue: Millington doesn’t sound like a very German name to me. And why is he wearing a British Naval uniform? Everything is a bit ****ed up here.

The Doctor and Ace find Judson in a crypt, where he’s attempting to decipher some ancient carvings.

Sue: It’s very nicely lit. Is this in a studio?
Me: No, it’s all on location.
Sue: I thought so. This is so much more believable. Why didn’t they make them all like this? It’s irritating.

The Curse of FenricWhen the Doctor and Ace examine the gravestones in the cemetery, Sue spots a clue.

Sue: Millington’s name is on that gravestone. I bet that’s significant.

You know, I’d never noticed that before. I feel like a right plonker.

Meanwhile, two evacuees – Jean and Phyllis – aren’t very happy when Miss Hardaker won’t let them go swimming.

Miss Hardaker: Do you know why it’s called Maidens’ Point? Because when you stand on those cliffs, you can hear the terrible lost cries of girls who went to that place with evil in their hearts.
Sue: You can hear them screaming out their orgasms for miles around. It’s enough to put you off your dinner.

The Doctor and Reverend Wainwright discuss the Viking inscriptions.

Sue: He’s surprisingly good, actually. I didn’t know he could act. I thought he just did game shows. He’s really good.

The Curse of FenricBeneath the waves, we watch Phyllis and Jean swim.

Sue: I bet Mark had to resist the urge to rip off the Jaws theme, here.

Finally, the The Curse of Fenric begins to work its magic, and Sue shuts up for a bit so she can chew her nails.

Sue: It’s really good, this.

Phyllis and Jean find a strange object on the beach.

Jean: Ooo, it feels all funny and tingly.
Sue: One of the harlots left their vibrator behind. The place is littered with them.

A Russian solider is relieved when he isn’t forced to shoot Phyllis and Jean in the face.

Sue: Awww. I bet this turns into Letter to Brezhnev. Just you wait and see.

The Doctor and Ace encounter Kathleen Dudman and her baby, Audrey.

Sue: That’s Ace’s mum.
Me: Don’t be ridiculous.
Sue: It’s like Back to the Future, but with Nazis.
Me: Well, there are no Nazis in this, but yeah.

The episode ends when the Russians capture the Doctor and Ace on the beach.

Sue: I’m sorry, I’m not saying very much, but I’m enjoying this too much. That cliffhanger was a bit shit, though.

 

Part Two

The Curse of FenricSue: Isn’t it weird how you can’t hear the soldiers creeping up on them until they are less than a foot away? How did they sneak up on Ace and the Doctor on all that shingle?

Meanwhile, beneath the water, a corpse opens his eyes.

Sue: Scary Matthew Broderick zombie. You know, that would have been a much better cliffhanger.
Me: This is why people wanted us to watch the Special Edition instead. The broadcast version was hacked to bits and scenes had to be rearranged to fit the episode’s running time. If I’m not mistaken, I think the original intention was to end Part One with the corpse opening its eyes.
Sue: Is it too late to switch to the Special Edition?
Me: Yes.

Mr Judson and Mrs Crane are bickering in the crypt.

Sue: These two are hilarious. I could watch them all day.

Meanwhile, Phyllis and Jean are flirting with the British Army.

Sue: They really are a pair of slappers. I feel sorry for the old lady, now.

But then Sue picks up on a problem.

The Curse of FenricSue: This story is moving too fast. Some of the scenes are over in a flash. Even the new series doesn’t move as fast as this does.
Me: Is it as fast as the second-hand on a watch?
Sue: What are you banging on about now?
Me: Nothing. But we should have watched the Special Edition.
Sue: Just put it on. I won’t tell anyone.
Me: Stop it.

In the church, Reverend Wainwright is preaching to himself.

Wainwright: When I became a man, I put away childish things. Now abideth faith, hope, love. These three. And the greatest of these is.
Sue
: If you know the answer, you win this week’s star prize.

The Doctor and Ace are introduced to Millington’s fountain of death.

Sue: He’s mining swarfega. He’s like the Brigadier’s older, nastier brother, isn’t he?

Millington wants the Russians steal the Ultima code-breaking machine so they can detonate a bomb in the Kremlin when it translates a particular word.

The Doctor: And the word is?
Millington: What else could it be, Doctor? Love.
Sue: I tell you what – it’s bloody good, this.

Jean and Phyllis go swimming at Maidens’ Point. Fully clothed.

Phyllis: So what? Who cares? It’s warm in the water.
Sue: I bet it ****ing isn’t. If it was, you’d take your ****ing clothes off.

A mist rolls in.

Sue: This reminds me of The Mist.
Me: The Fog.
Sue: Yes, that one.

Commander Millington wants all the chess sets on the base destroyed.

Sue: There have been a lot of references to chess in Doctor Who recently. What’s that all about?

Kathleen asks the Doctor if he has a family of his own.

The Doctor: I don’t know.
Kathleen: Oh, I’m sorry. It’s the war, isn’t it?
Sue: Bloody Time War.

The Curse of FenricJean and Phyllis have been transformed into vampiric creatures. They entice a Russian solider into the water.

Jean: Come on. Come play with us.
Sue: This is a bit full on. This is not for kids. The monsters are bad enough but they’re also ramming sexual innuendoes down our throats.

Reverend Wainwright is confronted by Phyllis and Jean. They prod at his faith and it turns out that he stopped believing in God when the British started dropping bombs on the enemy.

Phyllis: British bombs killing German children.
Sue: This is very heavy. I have to say, the script is very good. And Nicholas Parsons can come back any time he likes.

Suddenly, strange creatures emerge from the sea.

The Curse of FenricSue: It’s definitely turned into The Fog, now. This has to be the cliffhanger. And… cut.

But no, the episode ends on yet another close-up of Sylvester McCoy’s slightly perturbed face.

Sue: What a stupid place to end it.
Me: I knew we should have watched the Special Edition.

 

Part Three

Millington wants all radios in the camp destroyed, and a young private carries out his order. The idiot.

Sue: Poor Prince William. He’ll regret that.

Wainwright warns the Doctor about the “local” legends surrounding his church.

The Curse of FenricWainwright: In the story of Dracula, this is where he came ashore.
Sue: Dracula came ashore at Whitby, mate. This looks nothing like Whitby. He’s having a laugh.
Me: Our very first date was in Whitby, practically 20 years ago to the day. Do you remember?
Sue: Yes, I do. I still have the bite marks.

The Haemovores converge on the Russian troops.

Sue: Is this a magic beach which allows you to sneak up on people without them hearing you? Cos that’s the only explanation I can think of. Also, they can’t be vampires because this is broad daylight. They’re sea monsters.

And then Ace drops a bombshell:

Ace: I used to think I’ll never get married, but now I’m not so sure.
Sue: Eh? Where the hell did that come from? I’m telling you now, love, the Doctor isn’t interested in you like that.

The soldiers take on the advancing Haemovores.

Sue: Actually, they’re more like zombies than vampires. Just shoot them in the sodding head.

The Curse of FenricWith St. Jude’s under attack (“It’s a shame that the monsters’ arms are so rubbery.”), Ace heads for the top of the church, which she then descends with the help of a ladder she’s been carrying around with her the whole time.

Sue: That’s handy.
Me: She did say that she wanted to go rock climbing.
Sue: Who goes rock climbing with a ****ing ladder?

Speaking of ladders…

Sue: Oh, I just saw Ace’s suspenders.
Me: I’ve never noticed that before.
Sue: Of course you haven’t.

Ace grapples with a Haemovore.

Sue: Oh dear. I just saw some flesh under that mask. That’s a shame. They should have gone for a proper zombie look instead of lumpy rubber. It would have been even scarier.

The Russians open fire on the creatures.

Sue: Shoot them in the head! How many more times?

The Curse of FenricThe Doctor keeps the Haemovores at bay with a little faith.

Me: Did you notice what he was saying under his breath?

Of course she didn’t. So I rewind the scene.

Sue: No, sorry, I still haven’t got a clue.
Me: He’s reciting the names of his companions.
Sue: How the hell was I supposed to notice that? That’s ridiculous.

Ace and Sorin are attracted to each other.

Sue: See! Letter to Brezhnev. It’s a bit out of the blue, but I don’t blame her. Is this Ace’s last story? It is, isn’t it? You can tell.

The Doctor tells Sorin that faith in anything work against the Haemovores.

Sue: Would playing George Michael at them work?

The Curse of FenricMillington places Sorin under arrest.

Sue: Is it just me or does this bloke always sound pissed to you? Is he supposed to be drunk?

A battle breaks out and – shock horror! – Sue notices the music.

Sue: The stings in the action sequences are a bit Keffy. The music for the emotional scenes is really good, though.

Speaking of which…

Kathleen: (reading a letter) The ship on which your husband, Frank William Dudman, was serving, was struck by enemy torpedoes. Your husband was trapped in the fire and has been listed as missing, presumed dead.
Me: Dudman’s a dead man.
Sue: I still think that’s Ace’s grandmother.

Ace confronts the Doctor for being a sneaky bastard.

The Curse of FenricAce: You always know. You just can’t be bothered to tell anyone!
Sue: Bloody hell, this is a bit out of the blue.

The Doctor tells Ace what they are up against evil before the dawn of time. Fenric isn’t even its real name.

The Doctor: That’s just Millington’s name for it. Evil has no name.
Sue: Could it be the Great Intelligence?
Me: What did you just say?
Sue: You know. From the new series. Isn’t it the same thing?
Me: I’ve never considered that before. You could be onto something.

Ace offers to seduce a soldier while the Doctor sneaks into the barracks.

Sue: First she’s the Doctor’s own personal terrorist, and now he’s pimping her out. Lovely.

She’s just kidding.

The Curse of FenricAce: You have to move faster than that if you want to keep up with me. Faster than light.
Soldier: Faster than the second-hand on a watch?

Sue throws a cushion at me.

Wainwright confronts Phyllis and Jean, but his faith isn’t strong enough to hold them back.

Sue: Not. For. Kids. I’m looking forward to seeing Nicholas Parsons playing a zombie in the next episode, though.

In the Decrypt room, the chains of Fenric have shattered. Ace points at Commander Millington.

Ace: We’re too late. It’s him!
Sue: I knew it! He’s a bloody weirdo!

But they are both wrong. Fenric has inhabited another body.

The Curse of FenricJudson: We play the contest again…
Judson and Me: …Time Lord.

Cue credits.

Me: Go on, then. Say it.
Sue: Is it the Great Intelligence?

 

Part Four (ish)

Between episodes, Sue wants to know more about the Special Edition. Specifically, she wants to know if it makes more sense than the original (she’s starting to struggle with the plot). And it was at this point that I decided to say “To hell with it!” and I stuck the Special Edition in the PS3 and I cued it up to the place where the recap would have been. Yes, I broke the experiment. Again. And by doing this, we have failed to satisfy anybody who voted in our poll. Result!

The Curse of FenricThe Doctor, Ace and Sorin are sent to face a firing squad, but Russian troops come to their rescue.

Sue: I find it interesting that the Doctor isn’t siding with the British. I like that. And we didn’t like the Russians very much in the 1980s, did we?
Me: No, only Sting.
Sue: So it was probably quite brave back then.

Judson/Fenric confers with Jean and Phyllis.

Judson: Where is the Ancient One?
Sue: Who’s the Ancient One when he’s at home? Have I missed something?

Two marines shoot at Phyllis and Jean but they just keep on coming.

Sue: Aim for the head! Kids would have been terrified of this. This is proper scary Doctor Who.

The base is by battered by a freak storm.

The Curse of FenricSue: I like the rain. It adds atmosphere.

Thank God we’re watching the regraded version. The original looks ridiculous.

Sue: What did you say?
Me: Sorry, did I say that out loud?

She even likes the fight scenes.

Sue: This is much better than those knights pissing about the other week. The direction is much better. It’s quite exciting.
Judson: Don’t interrupt me when I’m eulogising.
Sue: Ha! That’s brilliant.

Judson isn’t very impressed with Commander Millington.

Judson: I can see you’ve never been handicapped by great intelligence.
Sue: See! Great Intelligence. How can you not know it’s the Great Intelligence. He just said it.
Me: To be fair, I’m not sure if that line is in the broadcast version.
Sue: I don’t care. He just said it. That’s Richard E. Grant.

The Curse of FenricThe Ancient One meets with Judson.

Sue: It looks okay, I suppose. His mouth is a bit wonky. He looks like he’s had a stroke.

The Doctor and Ace head to Millington’s office to retrieve the last surviving chess set, but it’s been rigged to explode.

Sue: Wow. Best explosion on Doctor Who ever. McCoy nearly took out the camera with his umbrella.

Ace and Sorin only have eyes for each other.

Sue: Get a room! She is so leaving at the end of this. It’s so obvious. She could do a lot worse, though.

Sorin is confronted by Haemovores.

Jean: You don’t have the emblem this time.
Sue: USE THE ONE ON YOUR HAT, YOU IDIOT! Oh, he didn’t need it after all.

The Doctor sets up the chess set.

Sue: That table would look great if you sanded it down and used some Briwax on it. Trust me, it would look magnificent.

Ace confides in Kathleen.

The Curse of FenricAce: I don’t like dark buildings. There was one in Perivale, an old, empty house full of noises. Evil. Things I didn’t understand.
Sue: Is she still upset about the other week?
Me: I think the plan was to show this one before Ghost Light. This would have led in to it, I think.
Sue: This makes it look like she’s still ****ed up over it and the Doctor has messed up her head.

As Kathleen escapes with her baby, Sue keeps repeating the following mantra under her breath:

Sue: She’s your mum, she’s your mum, she’s your mum.

Sue notices that Judson/Fenric/The Great Intelligence is blinking a lot.

Sue: He’s having a terrible time with those contact lenses, the poor sod.

Phyllis and Jean are no longer required and the Ancient One turns them to dust.

Sue: Not. For. Kids. Excellent effect, though. Even though I don’t have a clue how he did that.

The Curse of FenricThe British and Russians decide to work together.

Sue: I think those two will make a lovely couple. Seriously, this is Letter to Brezhnev meets Night of the Living Dead.

The Doctor tells the Ancient One some home truths.

Sue: Honestly, that is one hell of a wonky mouth.

When Ace works out what the winning chess move is, she rushes off to tell someone.

Sue: She’s not going to tell the bad guy, is she? Because that would be completely stupid.

But Fenric/The Great Intelligence controls more than one pawn in this game.

Sue: OH NO! HE’S TURNED THE FIT ONE!

Sue is genuinely upset by this.

Sue: It looks like the honeymoon is definitely off. Oh no.

It turns out that Kathleen’s baby is – wait for it – Ace’s mum after all. Who saw that coming?

Sue: It’s very timey-wimey, this. It’s so much like the new series, I keep expecting David Tennant to walk in.

My notes from this point:

Sue: Ohhhh.
Sue: Ahhhh.
Sue: Eh?

The Curse of FenricShe doesn’t really understand what the hell just happened, but she didn’t half enjoy it.

Ace is upset. I’m upset that Ace is upset. Mark Ayres almost makes me cry. Sue doesn’t pipe up again until the Doctor tells Ace to go for a swim.

Sue: I don’t get that at all. She’ll catch her death. That’s borderline irresponsible, but given the things the Doctor has made her do recently, it’s the least of his crimes.

 

The Score

Sue: My only problem is it didn’t really make any sense. It felt disjointed and the plot was a bit of a mess, but – and it’s a very big but – I enjoyed it a lot. It was exciting. And it’s very similar to the new series. You’ve even got a companion who turns out to be a trap set by the Great Intelligence. The Moff’s series is basically a sequel to this story. They should have put a lot more references to chess in it, though. Anyway, I really liked that. It looks like we are going to end on a high after all.

8/10

Me: I bet the Special Edition would have scored a 10.
Sue: Tough.

We watch the documentary that explains how this Special Edition came about.

Sue: So Mark Ayres does know how to use Pro Tools! Excellent.

 

Next Time

 

105

Comments

  1. CJJC  April 5, 2013

    “Nicolas Parsons has the look of a silver-haired Patrick McGoohan”

    You have one minute to give me information without being pushed, filed, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered.

  2. Andy  April 5, 2013

    Add me to the chorus of fans hoping that you will change your mind and take your wife’s own wishes into consideration regarding seeing this project through to the present day.

    • Neil Perryman  April 5, 2013

      I’ll add you to the list of people who are going to be disappointed.

      • Joe Monticello  April 5, 2013

        Add me to the list too, for posterity if nothing else. 🙂

        • Frankymole  April 6, 2013

          I was holding out for Adventures with the Wife and Blakes 7, but I’m going to be disappointed too.

          • Bluehat Grithscrimony  April 6, 2013

            I’m waiting for Adventures With The Wife In Wentworth followed by Adventures With The Wife In Sun Hill.

          • Neil Perryman  April 6, 2013

            I’m waiting for Adventures with the Wife Without the Television On.

      • Owen Wildish  April 7, 2013

        As disapointing as it is, I agree it may not be such a good idea to continue into the new series since this could go on for ever but may I make one little suggestion by way of a compromise, why not do a special one off on the 50th anniversary episode, it might make a good bookend prehaps since I guess it’s bound to marry the old and new Who… hmmm, I wonder?

        • Roundel  April 7, 2013

          Actually, it sounds as though a one-off for The Rings of Akhaten might have been a good one for a laugh… 😉

  3. Nathan  April 5, 2013

    I’ve always thought that The Great Intelligence, Fenric and even Ragnarok were all aspects of the same thing. Add the Mara to that too really.

    • Nathan  April 5, 2013

      Actually the Mara is more the evil that men do, whereas the other lot is just basic evil not necessarily related to human motivation, but the thought was there.

    • encyclops  April 5, 2013

      Part of me wants this to be canon, and part of me wants them all to be different things so that they can all have a big cage match in some story that’ll never happen (except maybe on Big Finish).

  4. John Miller  April 5, 2013

    ”Sue: Which one is the shortest?

    Me: The broadcast version.

    Sue: That one.”

    sometimes you DO need to make things clear 🙂

    Funniest line was from Neil, though, had me in stitches

    ”It turns out that Kathleen’s baby is – wait for it – Ace’s mum after all. Who saw that coming?”

    Sorry to hijack this to promote something, but Roundel and I will be debating “Authorial Intent versus Public Perception in UNIT-Era Doctor Who”, Good tickets are still available

    • Polarity Reversed  April 5, 2013

      Oh really, when and where? Need to sync it with my hair-washing schedule, y’see.

  5. P.Sanders  April 5, 2013

    Huzzah! I’m glad Sue’s scores have reflected the show’s creative renaissance over the last few seasons, even if it does mean less chortlesome moments as she’s too busy enjoying the stories to speak. She’s right about pacing flaws – Sophie Aldred says how when she was given a Who script she could tell they were too long for a 25 minute episode just by holding it – and of course JNT was cack at editing or anything with a narrative so stories like Fenric got hacked up when they overran. That said, I always loved the broadcast version.

    I was wondering if Sue would get the Audrey = Ace’s mum thing. It seems obvious now but at the time our family genuinely had no idea until about 5 minutes before the reveal. Maybe it was because we had already had lots of Ace character development (esp in GL) so it seemed like just another reference to her past. Plus these days we are used to companion character development that includes timey-wimey stuff, so it could be that Sue is particularly looking out for that. Then again, I was only 13.

    • Anonymous  April 5, 2013

      I was 20 and I didn’t get it either.

    • Bluehat Grithscrimony  April 6, 2013

      I seem to remember that was one of the few things I did get at the time!

  6. matt bartley  April 5, 2013

    As someone who was indeed a kid when this was first broadcast, I can confirm that it felt like the greatest thing on TV EVER at the time. And even now, it’s still my favourite Classic Who story depending on how I feel about Horror of Fang Rock on the day.

    I take it Sue’s “Ooohhh… aaahhhhh” meant she liked the scene of the Doctor breaking Ace’s psychic force? Probably McCoy’s finest moment.

    • Neil Perryman  April 5, 2013

      Yep, she basically loved the last five minutes.

      • Jane  April 5, 2013

        This is why the Experiment ends after the TV Movie, right? Because there will so very little for Sue to critique? She’ll just sit there slack-jawed, enjoying herself immensely, handing out nine and tens, and you’ll have to resort to making snide comments just to generate something funny, which will only get you more cushions launched at your head, and possibly more nights on the couch – sans cushions.

        It’s basically a tacit admission that the Revival wins out over the Classic Series.

        • Lewis Christian  April 5, 2013

          Pretty safe bet, yeah. In fact, I think it’d now be interesting to switch the roles… I fancy hearing Neil’s views on the new series. I remember the days of ‘Behind the Sofa’ and his opinions on there, so it’d be interesting to see if some of those have changed over time etc.

  7. Bluehat Grithscrimony  April 5, 2013

    I’ve always found this one achingly pretentious. But I do need to watch the regraded special edition sometime – I tried watching the broadcast version a few weeks ago and switched it off after episode 2, mainly due to the muddy image and baffling plot.

    Boo for being rebellious and switching to the special edition part way through – no serious scientific journal will publish your results now. 😉

    • Bluehat Grithscrimony  April 5, 2013

      (Actually, I applaud your rebelliousness, I just wanted to make that clear)

  8. Gordon Jones  April 5, 2013

    My favourite story of the classic era and I am tempted to say my favourite story, full stop. Although that’s the Special Edition I’d love it if you continued the experiment through the books. You won’t because you’re not insane but I would love it if you did.

  9. John G  April 5, 2013

    “Yes, I do. I still have the bite marks.”

    Ooh, too much information Sue, methinks! Still, that is a worthy score for Fenric, which does manage to overcome its narrative issues to stand as the most creepy and atmospheric story of the era. There are fine performances all round, and I’m glad Sue singled out Nicholas Parsons for such praise as he is a real revelation here, particularly in the scene where he is preaching his sermon – it is a real “hairs rising on the back of the neck” moment. As for the way the Russians are depicted, I suppose it’s possible that it does owe something to Glasnost and Perestroika, which were both in full flow by 1989 (indeed, the Berlin Wall came down between the original transmissions of parts 3 and 4).

    I am very much intrigued to see what the first four updates after Survival will contain. I am guessing Dimensions in Time and Shada might constitute two of them, but I’m not sure about the others. Full length revisits of Marco Polo and The Reign of Terror, perhaps? I hope Neil isn’t planning to inflict Downtime on Sue…

  10. Lewis Christian  April 5, 2013

    Yep, we are ending on a high, Sue. Arguably at the exact point when the show had really found its feet again, but alas.

    8/10 is also what I give this story – well worth the wait! 🙂 Bring on Survival.

  11. Dave Sanders  April 5, 2013

    “I bet Mark had to resist the urge to rip off the Jaws theme, here.”

    Wouldn’t have been the only thing certain members of the production team would have resisted the urge to rip off. 😛

  12. Dave Sanders  April 5, 2013

    “Bloody Time War.”

    More like About Bloody Time War if you want Sue’s actual opinion.

  13. Stefan Mueller  April 5, 2013

    There is a trilogy of Big-Finish-Audios with the 7th Doctor, which ends with a sequel to Curse of Fenric. In them it is stated, that Fenric is an Elder God (see Lovecraft for that) and that The Great Intelligence beneath others (the Animus of The Web Planet, for instance) is an Elder God too.

    • Polarity Reversed  April 5, 2013

      Speaking from the perspective of a (Lovecraftian) Lesser Viewer – yawns and scratches grotesque bits with spare tentacle…

    • Gordon Jones  April 6, 2013

      The Virgin New Adventures are better IMHO.

  14. Wholahoop  April 5, 2013

    In protest at your blatant ignoring of the Fenric poll I am writing to inform you that I will follow this blog till you do the McGann story and then that is it for me!

  15. Beeblebrox  April 5, 2013

    There’s a very funny Fenric spoof here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJ0YsKz6dtI

    I’ve never seen it before but it’s charmingly silly.

  16. John Miller  April 5, 2013

    Can I just ask something(and hopefully it won’t lead to either misunderstandings of what I’m actually saying again OR 1300-word replies…) Oh and it’s not “my theory”, because it’s a question, not my viewpoint….

    Many people(and Sue here which is why I ask this) seem to take the position of “I don’t know what is going on here” but then praise it. Not just this story, but much of the Mccoy era. Sue’s summary began

    ”My only problem is it didn’t really make any sense. It felt disjointed and the plot was a bit of a mess, but – and it’s a very big but – I enjoyed it a lot.”

    So, could someone explain to me why NOT understanding something, and it having a messy plot makes it ”better’?

    Now my take(and this is the first part of this post that is indeed my own view), is that if someone comes away from something feeling that the people who made it couldn’t even make it coherent, it hasn’t succeeded. Yes, I know that much material had to be chopped for time, but unlike GhostLight, this is a 4-parter. It’s not like it was a 4-parter that was edited down to 3. Surely the blame falls on Cartmel for allowing this sort of thing to happen?

    My other view is I found the Ace “seduction” scene the most embarrassingly cringeworthy thing about this. She’s not a little girl, you know. And there’s a wind whipping through her clothes….

    • Matthew Marcus  April 5, 2013

      Not understanding something, and it having a messy plot, doesn’t ever make it “better”.

      But quite often, it’s not really that important at all.

      I’ve never understood the mentality of fans for whom, if something has a plot hole, or plot ambiguities, it’s apparently disqualified from being enjoyable in any way. Which is greater art, something by James Joyce or a Mr Man book?

      • Bluehat Grithscrimony  April 5, 2013

        I suppose, for me, it comes down to intent. If I’m *meant* to be understanding something, but it’s messy and baffling, that frustrates me and puts me off. I gave up on this story because it seemed like something which should be making sense, but I couldn’t wrap my head around it enough to care.

        If something is deliberately ambiguous, and this is part of its charm or texture, then that’s a different matter. Something could be kaleidoscopic in an avant garde way (like French new wave cinema); or it might be setting up tangled plot threads with the promise to resolve towards the end (the recent film Trance, for example).

        My personal problem with Fenric was that the characters were rattling through all these plot points as if they knew what it all meant and what was going on, whereas I was at home saying “huh?” and getting annoyed.

      • Dave Sanders  April 5, 2013

        It’s a question of ‘mess’ versus ‘ambiguity’, and whether the intention is for the viewer to piece it all together as the plot progresses like an AR game (Series 6 viewed SO much like Marble Hornets for a while). As with any question of this ilk, the answer is completely subjective on the part of the actual viewer, with the definitive example to date being Ghost Light.

      • Thomas  April 5, 2013

        I have to take Matthew’s point here- the plot might not make perfect sense, but in the end it just doesn’t matter to me- actual drama consists of so much more than basic understandable plot, and so the fact that I still don’t quite know what happened at the end of Fenric just doesn’t matter in the face of that incredible scene of McCoy breaking Ace’s faith in him.

        Though I have to say I never really found Warrior’s Gate, Ghost Light, or Curse of Fenric especially “convoluted”, though I never really grasped the plots of either of them (excepting maybe Ghost Light). Intrinsically “getting” the story is usually more important than “understanding” it.

        • John Miller  April 5, 2013

          But I never got that they were trying to be convoluted or ambiguous, so much as that they just weren’t making it very well. I really enjoyed Warriors Gate. Fenric seemed to need (at least) one more rewrite. It comes across, to me at least, too much like a work-in-progress, like they were still working on it, when the BBC said “Time’s up. Give us whatever you have.”. And I don’t believe that was what they were aiming for at all.

          • Thomas  April 5, 2013

            Well, perhaps, but isn’t it just a bit presumptuous to say that? I mean, it’s one thing to give critiques for elements that don’t work and trying to examine *why* they don’t work, and another to say “it feels like a WIP” (which seems to me too subjective a remark to really stick).

          • encyclops  April 6, 2013

            It does seem, from the profusion of special editions, expanded novelisations, and 4-parters trimmed to 3-parters, that the Cartmel Administration was perhaps working either under extraordinary constraints (compared to past Doctor Who) or with extraordinary ambitions (ditto) that meant that what we saw was never quite as good as what the production team had in mind. I don’t feel inclined to hold this against them, and I think what they did achieve was still pretty impressive, even if it’s not my favorite era of the show.

            I’m curious: what specific aspects of Fenric did you two find confusing or unclear? Do you still find them so, and how many times have you watched it? I’m not asking in order to make some argument like “you have to watch it multiple times” — I’m just curious.

          • John Miller  April 6, 2013

            It’s more that it’s messy than confusing. There are good ideas, but poorly executed. There’s very good stuff that was cut, and a lot of boring filler that wasn’t. It also doesn’t flow very well, but that may be because of the cuts. But then they knew it was going to be 4×25, so there’s not really a valid excuse.

            And did you know that people don’t watch intentions or creative visions, they watch the finished product as broadcast? 🙂

          • Thomas  April 6, 2013

            You seem to think continually dragging up past debates is funny. It’s not.

    • DPC  April 5, 2013

      Can’t disagree.

      Convoluted is not better by default. “Warriors Gate” makes sense after repeated viewings. “Fenric” needed 5 or 6 episodes. “Ghost Light” needed 6 episodes and a cowriter to make it all make proper sense.

      Ace’s seduction is novel for WHO, but doesn’t feel right – not just because of the acting (no retake? No time for retake? Sophie thinking that it’s out of character for Ace to do this?) but because it really is out of the blue, doesn’t feel ‘mature’ (though it comes closer in that regard than any number of NA novels I bothered to read through), and feels out of place in general.

      I think people like these stories not because they’re convoluted but because of the veneer – the visceral element of “mystery” adds more gravitas than the story ever could, given time, budget, and other constraints – even the novelization, which is stellar, isn’t perfect…

      But Ian Briggs and Stephen Wyatt both add much to the show, as did just about everyone writing during Cartmel’s era. The only real problems are time and money – WHO was being shrunk down to the size where the BBC could drown it in the bathtub – proverbially speaking, but as with all drowners they eventually realize how wrong they are… hence WHO being back today, with other things following – proverbially speaking…

  17. DPC  April 5, 2013

    JNT always liked bringing in new talent – whether actors or writers. It didn’t work 100% of the time, but huge kudos for daring to take the risks others wouldn’t be bothered to do.

    “Sue: You can hear them screaming out their orgasms for miles around. It’s enough to put you off your dinner.”

    *snicker*

    This is one of WHO’s finest, even if Ace trying to chat up the soldier falls flat. The underlying social commentary on the pawns, working together, you name it, is very risky for its time thanks to the cold war and all, but it’d still be risky today because it dares to have the balls to go against the grain where it counts. (just scribbling stories of certain couples discussing their personal lives does not qualify by default or because it’s about their personal lives rather than society at large… but that’s another story…)

    • Dave Sanders  April 5, 2013

      It’s not really Ace that’s off in this scene – it’s the squaddie and his ‘faster than the second hand on a watch’ replies. It’s 1943 – Ace could be reading official pamphlets from the War Office and still ellicit the desired reaction for being nothing like any girl of this period which this soldier has encountered before. Ben Aaronovitch in Remembrance totally got this. Ian Briggs does too, because it’s obvious to me that this is what Ace is really exploiting in this scene; but then he has to smother it with “I studied Film Theory, me” just like he did throughout Dragonfire, and that’s what lets the side down.

  18. encyclops  April 5, 2013

    As with “Ghost Light,” I always found this story a bit overrated in the past but find it’s now growing on me. I don’t think it’ll ever be my favorite, but I can see why people love it. I just realized I’ve never seen the Special Edition myself, and maybe when I do that’ll make the difference.

    Some of the atmosphere I think is quite well done under the circumstances, but certain scenes never really worked for me, like the totally botched seduction scene everyone’s mentioning, and pretty much anything involving the two girls trying to be scary with their press-on nails. The bad sound mixes in this era didn’t help either; I’m sure there are a lot of lines I’ve never quite heard before.

    I love Sue’s idea that we’re dealing with the Great Intelligence by another name here. She really is turning into a proper fan, isn’t she? 🙂

  19. Richard Lyth  April 5, 2013

    Great that Sue enjoyed this, one of the classic stories I reckon. The Special Edition is definitely the better version – looking at my notes from 1989, I wasn’t too keen on the first episode, but by the third episode I was really enjoying it and ended up giving it 9 out of 10. I didn’t work out that the baby was Ace’s mother till the third episode though, so Sue was quicker on the draw there.

    I never considered that Fenric and the Great Intelligence could be one and the same, but it does make sense – for all we know, the Moffat Master Plan could involve all the disembodied alien entities the Doctor has encountered over the years turning out to be the same being at different points in time. And also the Master.

  20. Rassilon  April 5, 2013

    The best of all the McCoys IMO.

    Good score good story despite a messy execution, lots of detail in there that’s only hinted at (Judsons accident), but undoubtedly a indicator that the series had found its feet again….Survival is a little shakier to my mind.

    Aces seduction scene is a little awkward, possibly because the companion becomes a sexual creature for the first time (Barbara was the one usually under the threat of implied sex IIRC) & the soldier is still rather wet behind the ears.

    Palpable hit!

    • John Miller  April 5, 2013

      “possibly because the companion becomes a sexual creature for the first time”

      You never watched anything with Nicole Bryant?

      • Bluehat Grithscrimony  April 5, 2013

        Peri was a sex object, but an oblivious one – she was never horny herself.

        • Rassilon  April 6, 2013

          What Bluehat said! 😉

          • John Miller  April 6, 2013

            “A sexual xreature” is ambiguous. 🙂 But earlier companions did get “horny”(eg. Jo, erm Adric, er I’ll stop there…)

          • John Miller  April 6, 2013

            Creature, of course. The Xreatures were the villains in the 1972 annual.

  21. Terry Francis  April 5, 2013

    Any chance of a viewing of “Dimensions in Time” before you stick on the TV Movie?

  22. Gavin Noble  April 5, 2013

    I just find Fenric a bit meh – both transmitted and special edition versions. It’s okay but nothing more for me, though I have to say Nicholas Parsons was wonderful in this story. One of the few times JNT actually got some light entertainment type casting right. Look at the next story for a good example of when he gets it wrong!

    And now the end is near…

  23. P.Sanders  April 5, 2013

    And of course the end of this story with the Doctor destroying Ace’s faith was nicked wholesale for the end of “The God Complex”, except it’s one of those occasions where the original works so much better. It’s not Matt Smith’s fault, but however calculating he can be it’s hard to believe he’d ever break a companion’s spirit quite like that. Whereas we know McCoy is bloody devious already by this point, plus the way he so calmly and casually says “kill her” is enough to send chills – it’s hard to tell quite what game he’s playing…

    • Lewis Christian  April 5, 2013

      Totally agreed.

    • Gordon Jones  April 6, 2013

      Two things: 1. I believe Toby Whithouse hadn’t seen the Curse of Fenrik when he wrote the episode, rather accidentally writing a similar scene 2. The Seventh Doctor had to break Ace’s belief in him without letting Fenrik know what he was doing. The Eleventh Doctor only had to break Amy’s belief before the minotaur arrived. He could afford to straight up tell her “Stop believing in me or you will die”

      • Longtime Listener  April 6, 2013

        I always assumed, though, that the idea came from Moffat, Amy’s story being part of his preserve as showrunner, and this being a fundamental turning-point in it, even if not quite as final as it seemed at the time. I would imagine he said something more specific to Whithouse than “just get her off the TARDIS somehow”. Also, it ties in rather precisely with at least one line from The Eleventh Hour, the one along the lines of “I am going to tell you something, and I need you to listen, because some day your life may depend on it…I am just a madman in a box!” (I also have my suspicions about “What a disappointment you turned out to be”). Now, of course, that could be just Whithouse picking up something that was originally a mere throwaway gag and running with it, but given the intricacy of Moffat’s writing and his fondness for leaving clues and foreshadowings hidden in plain sight I rather doubt it. A double-blind, ultra-seriousness that turns out to be a joke, that turns out to be serious after all. Very Doctor, very Moffat. In which case, if Whithouse had seen Fenric he might have done things in a more round-about way to avoid the similarity being quite so on-the-nose, but the essential pinching of the idea would still have been there. Not that I’m complaining, really. “Steal from the best” and all that.

        • Gordon Jones  April 6, 2013

          Well I do think Moffat was doing some baiting in the Wedding of River Song as it the trailer we have The Doctor playing chess with a character credited as Fenrik. It was responding to this baiting that caused me to get kicked off the Doctor Who livejournal lol

  24. Paul Mc Elvaney  April 5, 2013

    The Curse of Fenric is probably one of the best episodes of Classic Who to show non-Who fans, I know it worked for me. Loved Sue finishing of the Reverend’s preach for him, genius! 😀 It’s also nice to see that the Eleventh Doctor still has that McCoy manipulativeness…

  25. Longtime Listener  April 5, 2013

    Millington: What else could it be, Doctor? Love.

    Sue: I tell you what – it’s bloody good, this.

    YES!!!

    That’s put me in “now I can die happy” mode. Always, er, loved that line. Not having seen the special edition, I don’t know whether Millington’s thinking makes any sense in that – it certainly doesn’t in the broadcast version – but who cares when he such a marvellously monumental bastard?

    Actually I was doing a lot of metaphorical air-punching reading that. Especially at the love for Parsons’ parson. Little bit disappointed at the score though – by the end I was sure we were on for a 9.

    Sooo…next time. One last time…will she? Won’t she? Any takers?

    What am I saying? Of course she will.

  26. Jazza1971  April 5, 2013

    It might not always make sense, but it keeps you guessing, keeps you thinking and keeps you discussing. After all, can anyone say what “Twin Peaks” is all about? Probably not. Does that make it no good? To my mind the answer is a clear “no” – it is a fantastic piece of TV.

    You could argue that CoF isn’t meant to be in the same vain as “Twin Peaks” and that the confusion is down to poor production values, but I prefer to believe that it was intentionally unclear and that there is more going on underneath that you have to think about. The answers aren’t all served up for you, you have to think about it.

    The clue is there on screen. There’s a whacking great sign stating “Dangerous Undercurrents” – For me that sums up Fenric, there is more going on under the surface.

    • encyclops  April 5, 2013

      To me “Ghost Light” is more like Twin Peaks. Both feature often-unnatural performances and a story that’s more about what’s happening _around_ the apparently central plot than the plot itself. Both are, I’d maintain, a little unsatisfying unless you’re willing to piece them together from multiple levels of “reality.” I LOVE Twin Peaks, but I barely knew the show when I first saw “Ghost Light” and wouldn’t have thought to allow for a Doctor Who episode to tell stories that way back then. Man, imagine if Lynch had directed that episode.

      “Fenric” seems more straightforward to me; I think it’s just the editing and maybe the sound mix that make it feel a little disjointed. There’s also a problem around this time where the writers (quite rightly) imply a larger world and more history than we’ve seen onscreen, but unlike Bob Holmes they’re not quite as good at letting us know they’re doing that so we can relax and not wonder what we missed.

      When does confusion become a problem? I’d say it’s fine if you don’t immediately know how everything you’re seeing fits together, as long as you know what you’re seeing. So ambiguity and mystery are good, but vagueness is less good.

      • Thomas  April 5, 2013

        I think this sums up my view on ‘confusion’ as well.

  27. Jazza1971  April 5, 2013

    Forgot to add that for me this is a 10/10.

  28. Jamie  April 5, 2013

    Considering how filthy she occasionally comes across in these reviews, I’d have have thought the sexual innuendos would have been right up Sue’s street.

    • Neil Perryman  April 5, 2013

      Yeah, but Sue’s not supposed to be for kids.

  29. Anonymous  April 5, 2013

    That cat alongside the Next Time piece of audio which I never click, looks like the one shot by the Pakistani Dalek in the Q series.

  30. Bob  April 5, 2013

    Me and my girlfriend have watched this story more than any other (classic or new series) story by a very wide margin. Almost completely wonderful: 9/10. McCoy is rivetting in these episodes. If not for the “seduction” scene and the lack of night filming, this would have been 10/10 perfection.

  31. Jamie  April 5, 2013

    I was one of those who voted for the broadcast version to be shown, because I believe the stories shown in this excellent blog ought to be always faithful to those shown on TV at the time.
    I almost regretted that opinion when Neil revealed the original cliffhanger to part 1 (underwater eyes opening) as it sounds much more effective and shocking, but I’ll stick with it.
    This story is from a time when I used to watch Who purely out of loyalty to the shows when I was a child (Tom Baker days), but this review has certainly implanted the idea that it would be a wise choise to seek out the adventure again (broadcast or special edition).
    Thanks to Neil and Sue for an always entertaining blog!

  32. Chris Allen  April 5, 2013

    “It’s so much like the new series, I keep expecting David Tennant to walk in”

    That’s pretty much ties in with my memory of it, although I don’t think I’ve actually seen it since it first went out.

    I really must watch the Special Edition.

  33. Phill P  April 6, 2013

    After the way Sue objected to Pertwee being constantly rude to his companions, I am quite surprised she didn’t make more of the manipulative and callous way the 7th Doctor treats Ace. Pertwee may have been chauvinist and patronising but he never called any of his companions emotional cripples, or say that he was using them as bait all along. Even though he didn’t actually mean it, it was no less devastating to Ace at the time. No Doctor has ever played those kind of cruel mind games with a companion before, so I’m a bit shocked that it didn’t get more comment.

    • Gordon Jones  April 6, 2013

      Read Blood Heat. If you read one Virgin New Adventure, read Bloodheat. You may think the Doctor’s behavoiour in Fenrik is shocking but he outdoes himself in Bloodheat.

      • Phill P  April 7, 2013

        Sure, but that doesn’t detract from the lack of comment about it. Additionally, the new adventures came after the series, where a lot of writers thought putting more sex and violence in was the same as “being more adult”, when often it was just an excuse to be gratuitous and frankly juvenile. Plus, it has nothing to do with the TV series, which is what is under discussion, not anything that followed it either in book, comic or audio form.

        It’s not about canon either. I don’t care about canon. But anything that follows on from the TV series is a spin off. Just because a spin off takes it to some extreme or another, that is irrelevant to the point, and equally irrelevant to anything the TV series was trying to do or say.

        In short, it’s not a point. At all.

        • Gordon Jones  April 7, 2013

          Yeah I am a massive fan of the Virgin New Adventures of Doctor Who and honestly your comments aren’t fair. The virgin books were the only new Doctor Who in the 90s. They were the continuation of the series. To say in retrospect that they don’t count because they aren’t TV is ignoring the future of the Seventh Doctor, the path that takes him from adventuring with Ace to going off to pick up the Master’s ashes. Yes, there are some plot points and retconning that is problematic but you can’t just denigrate a whole era of Doctor because it’s not TV.

          • Roundel  April 7, 2013

            They were, then and now, a merchandise range aimed at meeting a commercial demand. Like the annuals or DWM or Big Finish. Whether one wishes to think of the stories or continuities of any of these ranges as also existing within the continuity of the TV series – which is what is usually meant when people go on about ‘canon’ – is ultimately a personal opinion, meaning also that any opinions on the matter can only be subjective, whoever holds them and whatever they decide.

            Incidentally, there was some other non-Virgin books Doctor Who available in the early and mid 90s. Dimensions in Time, the two Pertwee radio serials by Barry Letts, the Shada video, which was material that had mostly never been broadcast or commercially released before, Marvel’s Yearbooks…

            However, given that this is a blog devoted to Sue reviewing the 20th Century TV episodes, I don’t think that they have any particular relevance to questions anyone might raise about how Sue contextualises Pertwee or McCoy’s actions on screen as Doctors. Sue is unlikely to show any interest in reading them, so they can’t be a significant factor in any of her opinions on the series, especially considering they hadn’t even started at this stage.

          • Phill P  April 7, 2013

            Then it is a good job I am not denigrating a whole era because it’s not TV. I wouldn’t own almost 200 Big Finish audios if I did.

            I am saying that anything on top of the TV series is an extra. Like the audios. Big Finish, for example, take their lead from the TV show and fit their stuff around it. Like I said, it’s not about canon, just about original versus additional. It’s irrelevant to someone who will never read the books, like Sue. If there is something in the TV show that seems odd and worthy of discussion, then the fact that several people wrote books about it afterwards really has nothing to do with it. We’re all aware of how fans can explain away anything with a bit of tortured logic. So, I’m not saying they don’t count, but they don’t count for the purposes of analysing the original episode, on its own as it was broadcast. There’s a world of difference between that and saying none of them count at all.

          • Frankymole  April 8, 2013

            “The virgin books were the only new Doctor Who in the 90s.” Apart from Search Out Science, the Lime Grove Story pilot, Shada, Silver Nemesis extended, Paradise of Death and The Ghosts of N-Space, Dimensions in Time, Thirty Years in the TARDIS and the Thirty Years radio documentary, the Whatever Happened to… Susan? play, the stones of Blood VHS missing scene, the Five Doctors special edition, the Paul McGann TV Movie, Destiny of the Doctors, the War Machines reconstructed, Curse of Fatal Death, the extended Battlefield, the rec-scored Revelation VHS…. and and something called “The Sirens of Time” in 1999 being to do with something called “Big Finish” – whoever heard of them?

          • John Miller  April 8, 2013

            I think if you like e’m fine, if you don’t also fine. However, the big thing is that only the tv series can legitimately claim to be “the continuation of the series”(although some would contest even that at times). During the Mcgann era the comics, audios and books each considered themselves to be the continuation, and were often hopelessly at odds with each other. Virgin’s claim to be the continuation works on some levels, but falls flat on it face on many others. So again if you like them, feel free to consider them whatever you like, but it’s clear that subsequent authors, producers etc of other lines didn’t feel obligated to follow on from the VNA, just from the tv series.

    • Thomas  April 6, 2013

      I think the cruelty of it is dampened by how distraught he is about it afterwards. He doesn’t just say “Sorry” and move on, he seems legitimately upset at what he had to do.

      • Phill P  April 7, 2013

        Yes but at the time we don’t know he will feel sorry about it afterwards. My point is the Doctor has been an arse to his companions before and Sue hasn’t waited to see if he meant it or not, she’s condemned his actions straight away. This time, although it’s worse than ever, with no indication AT THE TIME that he is being anything but an arse or cares what he is doing, we get no comment. I find that odd. Stealing sandwiches and being sexist get slammed there and then, but not this? I expected something along the lines of “What a bastard. Even if he doesn’t mean it, I don’t know if I would trust him again if I was Ace.”

        Seems inconsistent. That’s all I’m saying.

        • Bluehat Grithscrimony  April 7, 2013

          I suspect the difference is probably a plot thing. Pertwee being a sexist pig is very little other than an unpleasant product of its time, and is neither here nor there in terms of story. McCoy being manipulative is inherent to the storytelling. I think people will accept more if it’s important to what’s going on, or if they’re caught up in the story. Casual sexism tends to pull one out of the story.

        • Neil Perryman  April 7, 2013

          Why not ask her this very question for the McCoy retrospective?

          • Phill P  April 7, 2013

            Thanks Neil, I will. I am enjoying her observations immensely. For a non fan she is more insightful than a lot of the fans themselves, so i would indeed be interested.

  34. Chris  April 6, 2013

    Yay – Sue likes my favourite ‘classic’ story!

    The special edition is a better but I find it odd that people feel the broadcast version doesn’t make sense. I first saw it on UK Gold at 2am with a few whiskeys in me – and could follow it fine. The seduction scene is supposed to be awkward, it’s a dark and dangerous thing to do.

    A solid gold story – 10/10 for me – epic and human and dark with a ton of heart.

  35. John Reid  April 6, 2013

    A classic, although I believe it’s impossible for the seventh doctor to have an average score higher than the sixth doc now, we’ll colin was better than Sylv, regarding the seduction scene, I always felt it was great, never seen why it was felt to be embarrassing, I have to say that Sophie a sailing and the camera looking up her skirt at her suspenders was the only time as a teenager I ever noticed anything deliberately sexual put in for the audience, I must have been naive when Nicola byrant or Sarah sutton or Janet fielding were paraded on the screens for male enjoyment, I wonder if anyone has ever asked Sophie Aldred did ,JNT say would you mind showing a bit of leg, for the dads to watch,but as a kid I never thought this bit distracted from the story, in fact it’s the first time in 23 yrs I’ve thought about it,

  36. John Reid  April 6, 2013

    Just checked out the spoof on YouTube, and yes they do over play that Sylv, and Sophie weren’t great actors so in the past, their timing was off and the script wasn’t exactly spontaneous, but I’m sure if someone dissected the dialogue to Talons of Weng Chiang, that they’d reduces it to parody too,

  37. David J Richardson  April 7, 2013

    To the “right plonker”, here’s a family tree for this story:

    http://davidj.richardson.name/drwho/prose_article_fenricrels.html

    Also in relation to ‘Fenric’:

    http://davidj.richardson.name/drwho/prose_article_cursedrefs.html

    • Polarity Reversed  April 7, 2013

      David:
      Your piece implies that Ultima was a constant replacement cipher, which it certainly wasn’t (every instance of A didn’t translate to D). If it had been, most messages of reasonable length could have been cracked without the aid of computers in 10 minutes flat by frequency analysis and deductive guesswork.

  38. Anonymous  April 7, 2013

    Well… yes, ermm… Fenric is the Great Intelligence. Yeah, I can see that. Brilliant.

    And I can also see McCoy in Sue’s bright orange duffle coat. Yes, he would totally wear that. For defs.

    What can I say? I bluddy love THE CURSE OF FENRIC. One of the best batch of episodes of the ’80s.

  39. Kieran M  April 7, 2013

    Wainwright: When I became a man, I put away childish things. Now abideth faith, hope, love. These three. And the greatest of these is…
    (DING)
    Me: Hesitation!

  40. Owen Wildish  April 7, 2013

    I’m surprized that no one mentions that Ace’s mun has a Superted teddy during WW2???

    • Neil Perryman  April 7, 2013

      It’s not Superted. It bears a superficial resemblance to Superted but it ain’t Superted. It’s a myth.

      • Owen Wildish  April 7, 2013

        Ahhh, my mistake, ooops, although a story where the Doctor slips back and gives the baby a teddy might have been nice…. prehaps even before he’d met Ace, hmmm?

        • Nick Mays  April 8, 2013

          I often wondered if there was some temporal/spatial crossover between Dr Who and Superted, especially as Spotty Man’s voice sounds remarkably like the Third Doctor’s… 😉

          And I reckon that it IS a Superted toy – it’s even got the logo on it’s chest!

          (And as a parent who was subjected to Superted on a never-ending loop, I know of that which I speak. Got my own back with repeats of Dr Who on UK Gold later though!)

  41. Alex Wilcock  April 7, 2013

    I just wanted to say congratulations and wow, and to feel just a little melancholy at this moment… It seems like far too short a time (even if you’re going just a tiny bit further)!

    I’ve been poorly and busy, so I’ve not been commenting through Sylv – perhaps I’ll go back and add some, or read the whole lot again (I assume it’s all staying up, rather than zapping to make way for the book). Though it’s slightly weird that this is the only era of the show for which Sue’s opinions have been roughly in the same direction as mine – at least as far as ‘Good’, ‘Bad’ or ‘Indifferent’, if not the scores I’d have given them. I still think you should have famous actors you’ve met queuing up to read the New Adventures to Sue – after all, she’s anticipating them…

    In the meantime, this seems an opportune moment to share this link wot I found online (and hoping no-one else has posted it over the last few sets of comments). As we all wait to see what Sue makes of Survival, when better to tick down The Final Countdown?

  42. John Reid  April 7, 2013

    Even if you don’t review it, let sue see dimensions in time, it’s fun and all the doctors put in good portrayals,

  43. Longtime Listener  April 7, 2013

    Just noticed the change to the counter on the front page.

    [Grin]

    • Jazza1971  April 7, 2013

      😀

    • Frankymole  April 8, 2013

      Eh?

      • John Miller  April 8, 2013

        Is it ”a” Great Intelligence?

  44. DamonD  April 8, 2013

    Not much left to say, apart from Curse of Fenric is another top story for me and a quality companion to Ghost Light. McCoy’s ‘big three’, of those two and Remembrance, are right up there with the best of Who’s whole run.

    The novel is tremendous as well.

    One to go! Amazing to think of all that’s gone before. Fingers crossed for another good-to-decent score to finish Seven’s run on a good note.

  45. Alexandra  May 5, 2013

    I just watched this on Netflix and really wasn’t impressed. The barnacle monsters were embarrassing, the “let’s work with the Russians” bit was cringeworthy and the plot didn’t make any damn sense. I saw that the baby was Ace’s mother from the moment she shrank at the name “Audrey” and I’d only seen two of her episodes prior to this. I liked that. My interest perked up a lot when it appeared the Bad Guy had some history with the Doctor but it wasn’t followed through in any way that satisfied me. I like your blog so much and respect your opinions so much that I am seriously considering buying the DVD so I can watch the Special Edition. If it sucks, I will be pissed off.