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The Curse of Fenric
That's more like it. When I first saw this story in say 1989 or 1990 at Stonybrook's ICON on a big screen I was most unimpressed. For some reason on a big screen, the mix of the interior sets and the exterior location just looked like DW was trying so hard to be American in scope and visuals but failed miserably on a big screen, that is. On a televsion, it's much nicer to look at and much more visually pleasing than GHOST LIGHT, still, I think I've found a pattern in that I prefer settings that show location or imply locations that are different (think HORROR OF FANG ROCK, which is studio bound but had the guts to do a lighthouse...well!). Back in the original viewing I was bored, I did'nt understand any of it and to be fair, I probably still wouldn't understand any of it...if it could be understood...without the aforementioned fan articles, magazines, books, interviews and the helpful DVD texts. And yes, they do throw everything at you but the kitchen sink: Russians attacking, Viking curse, Viking dragonship, a cursed "point" beach, vampires, the Haemophores (spelling?), chess, the Germans, Nazis I think, British trying to pretend to be Nazis, the search for the code, girls listening to the radio, Ace's mum as a baby...and back then it didn't all fit in in my mind. Now...I kind of like the many things going on so maybe it was ahead of its time or maybe I just couldn't comprehend it all at once or maybe it just didn't do a great job of giving us what we needed to know or maybe I wasn't willing to try. Face it, back then, I was close to hating DW. Why?
Well, I liked the carefree nature of DW and the Doc's travels and his whimsical if serious companions---even the UNIT family. I liked that he never knew what was going on and he landed in over his head, made fun of everyone, didn't fit in, didn't really have any credentials, and made it up as he went along. THIS and THIS DOCTOR in particular and THIS companion were all the opposite of everything I liked about DW. He knew where he was landing. He knew what was going on and made plans for it so that he wasn't in over his head (but sometimes this backfired and he was). He made fun of few peeps, if anyone. He fit in. He made friends easily. He played the spoons. He was part of the establishment and entertainment world. He showed credentials or acted like he had them and fooled people that way. He didn't make it up as he went along AND on top of all of that, he let people die, possibly because he knew they had to in the laws of time or history and all that.
Still, ALL of the acting here is terrific. The build up is suspenseful and if you really listen and pay attention, it's not that all confusing, not as much as GHOST LIGHT anyway and all the parts fit together and no one is acting retarded as in HAPPINESS PATROL, somewhat in DELTA, especially in all of GHOST LIGHT, and a few others. It's all played completely straight, well maybe except for the way one of the Russian victims runs from an unseen terror.
The build up is great, the music is excellent (FINALLY!), the location work super (just look at that water!), and Ace is back to being a proper balance of girl and companion who sticks up for the underdog and she even mentions liking a teacher. A teacher! OMG! Anyway a good start to this story, well done!