Saturday 20 October 2012

697 The Curse of Fenric Part Three

EPISODE: The Curse of Fenric Part Three
TRANSMITTED: Wednesday 08 November 1989
WRITER: Ian Briggs
DIRECTOR: Nicholas Mallett
SCRIPT EDITOR: Andrew Cartmel
PRODUCER: John Nathan-Turner
RATINGS: 4 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Curse of Fenric

The Doctor & Ace return to the church where Wainright searches the parish records for the descendants of the Viking settlers. Ace uncovers an ancient flask in the cellar where the Navy had been digging but the church is attacked by the Haemovore creatures. The Doctor saves them with the help of the Russians. Two of the Russian soldiers escort the Doctor, Ace & Wainright through the mine shaft to the camp where they are sealed in by Millington who takes the flask from them to the Ultima machine. The Soviet commander Soren comes to parley with Millington and is arrested but freed by Ace. Wainwright is slain by the Haemovores who use the mine tunnel to get to the base. The Ultima machine sparks towards Judson and he is knocked to the floor as the Doctor enters, then stands without the aid of his wheelchair, possessed by the Fenric being Millington has been seeking.

Oooh, I can feel the story struggling to get out here but there's just stuff that keeps bringing it down. I'm still not clear quite how the Doctor repels the Haemovores from the church, but there's some kind of singing going on. The dialogue, as Ace uses her womanly charms to distract the guard is just awful. And Millington's performance is all over the place, looking like he's out of it half the time then suddenly for no reason dropping the name of Fenric into the conversation which suddenly turns out to be the name of the big villain at the end of the episode..... We've had references to him throughout the story but no idea of what he is till the Doctor describes him here as some sort of ancient evil.

By far the most recognisable figure in the series is Nicholas Parsons as Reverend Wainwright. At the time Parsons was probably best known to the average TV viewer as the host of Sale of the Century but what wasn't so well known was he had been an actor appearing in a number of West End productions. He was a voice artist for Four Feather Falls, an early Gerry Anderson series alongside his then wife Denise Bryer (who went on to voice both Commander Makara in Star Fleet and Mary Falconer in Terrahawks) and Dalek Voice Artist David Graham. Now Parsons is probably best known as the host of Just a Minute the long running Radio 4 panel game which he has hosted (or on rare occasions taken part in) every edition since it's start on 22 December 1967. At the time of his casting the news he'd be appearing was almost universally put down as stunt casting but actually he does a decent job here as the Vicar.

This story mark the last appearance in Doctor Who of Cy Town, regular extra since The Silurians in 1970 and Dalek Operator from 1973's Frontier in Space till the previous season's Remembrance of the Daleks. IMDB reckons his final appearance is as a Haemovore in episode 1 but I can't recall seeing any in that episode. Marek Anton, playing the Soviet soldier Vershinin, we saw a few weeks back as the Destroyer in Battlefield, even though that was filmed after this. Anne Reid, here as Nurse Crane, would return in the New Series episode Smith and Jones as Florence Finnegan, the disguised Plasmavore hiding in Martha Jones' hospital that the Judoon come for.

One more location this episode: Yew Tree Farm provides the tunnel location where Ace reveals to the Doctor that she's found the flask.

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