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Tony Grist

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The Curse Of Fenric [Jul. 10th, 2012|11:05 am]
Tony Grist
Thought I'd treat myself to some vintage Who. Turns out vintage Who can be as complicated and befuddling as anything of Stephen Moffat's. The Curse of Fenric (1989) features a wartime base on the Yorkshire coast, an eccentric code breaker, a Turing-era computer, a villainous British naval officer, evacuees, a viking curse, poison gas, aquatic vampires, noble Russian soldiers, an unbelieving vicar (played by Nicholas Parsons), a ranting Calvinist, an esoteric chess game and a creature called The Ancient One who comes from the future. I have only the flimsiest idea how all these elements hang together but the action moves at such a breathless pace it hardly matters. Sylvester McCoy is an engaging doctor and Sophie Aldred- as his companion, Ace- is engaging too but can't act for toffee. The vampires have big rubber heads and shuffle forwards with fingernails extended just as we used to do in the playground when we were pretending to be the Frankenstein monster. The moment when the Soviet officer repels the vampires with his hammer and sickle lapel badge- symbol of the revolution in which he believes- is rather wonderful. There's some adult stuff- political, religious, sexual- going on under the sub-Hammer theatrics.

Besotted fans of the show rate this one high. Me too. I saw it when it was first transmitted and it's stuck with me. Odd how something so sketchily written, clunkily acted and ham-fistedly directed can pack such a punch. 
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: ashlyme
2012-07-10 10:41 am (UTC)
I'm very fond of this story (yes, besotted fan I'm afraid). I hated the series when they first brought in McCoy, but this got me back into it. It's an eclectic mishmash but it still works for me.

If you want more complex befuddlement, try "Ghost Light": that has a Neanderthal butler, an ancient spaceship in a cellar, and an alien trying to evolve into a Victorian gentleman.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-07-10 11:02 am (UTC)
I remember watching Ghost Light when it was first transmitted- and not being able to make any sense of it.

I'll give it another spin. All these shows seem to be available on YouTube.
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[User Picture]From: sovay
2012-07-10 03:56 pm (UTC)
and an alien trying to evolve into a Victorian gentleman.

That sounds like one of yours.
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[User Picture]From: ashlyme
2012-07-10 04:08 pm (UTC)
Heh. It does...
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[User Picture]From: sovay
2012-07-10 03:53 pm (UTC)
The moment when the Soviet officer repels the vampires with his hammer and sickle lapel badge- symbol of the revolution in which he believes- is rather wonderful.

I like that.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-07-10 04:00 pm (UTC)
The show was first broadcast over 4 weeks in October-November 1989- just before the Berlin Wall came down.
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[User Picture]From: huskyteer
2012-07-10 05:56 pm (UTC)
Another besotted fan here! I don't own much Dr Who on DVD; it's almost all Pertwee with one McCoy story. This one.
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[User Picture]From: ashlyme
2012-07-10 07:19 pm (UTC)
Mine's pretty much all Hinchcliffe-era Baker. Nice icon, by the way.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-07-11 08:14 am (UTC)
Patrick Troughton is "my Doctor".
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[User Picture]From: davesmusictank
2012-07-11 12:10 pm (UTC)
Of all the older Doctors mine would have to be Tom Baker.
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[User Picture]From: endlessrarities
2012-07-25 08:23 pm (UTC)
It's one of my favourites, I must admit...
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