Fun. Fun. Fun.
That is how I would describe The Doomwood Curse.
That is the original review that I submitted to our fearless editor Christian Cawley. He then promptly returned it to me and told me that it was just a few words to short. So I had a look my self and found he was right. Huh, I guess there is a reason he has the cool title.
Where to begin…
Charlotte Pollard, played by actress India Fisher.
The Doomwood Curse – like The Condemned before it – follows Charley’s personal story after her days of traveling with the Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann) and this is a wonderful thing, because Charley is one of those companions that you wish would never have to leave the TARDIS. She is full of all the good traits that make up the best of the best companions and you never once feel that she is bored or uninterested in the new and wonderful things that she gets to see. While it is sad to see that her adventures with the Eighth are over, it is comforting to know that we still get plenty more adventures with her and her new Doctor, as played by Colin Baker.
Immediately these two hit it off and you can tell that in their performances. Even though I never wanted Charley to leave the series I knew that it would have to happen in order to keep things fresh, just as it always has to happen, but what the Big Finish team have done here has refreshed both the Charley character and the Sixth Doctor’s era. With this new team there are so many new directions the Sixth Doctor’s stories can go.
As always Colin delivers a wonderful performance and makes me realize what we missed when his era on TV ended. In fact this story sees Colin play more then just the character of the Doctor. One is clearly still Doctor-ish, as it should be, but the other I had no clue about. It’s common practice in the audio world to have some of actors pull double duty and portray the extras in the story, and again I have to say that you just can’t tell. That is the sign of a good actor.
India and other principles even get pleasure of showing off their acting abilities in the story, as it is the very nature of this story’s narrative. The entire cast was a perfect fit for this adventure.
The Doomwood Curse sees the Doctor and Charley coming face to face with the legendary highwayman Dick Turpin and the fact obsessive alien race known as the Grell.
Once I heard the Grell speaking, and saw what their motives were, I knew this would be an interesting story and from that moment it did not let up with the fun. Sure the sense of danger is still there and the adventure means life or deaths as always, but fun it truly what it was. This has to come down to Jacqueline Rayner’s engaging prose.
Jacqueline’s last story for Big Finish was also a Colin Baker adventure called Doctor Who and the Pirates, another adventure to show off the many talents of Colin Baker. While Doctor Who and the Pirates was more of parody, or glamorization, of the actual events of the story being told, The Doomwood curse takes a more serious approach while at the same time bordering on the similar theme of twisted reality.
The setting of 18th century England may not be out of the norm for Doctor Who, but by no means does it feel as though we have seen this before. To be honest I often find myself visualizing the stories with a much bigger budget the respective Doctor’s era ever had. Jacqueline’s descriptive narrative from the characters sets up each scene without any effort or detachment from the listener. Throughout the entire play I saw this story with the massive Hollywood budget the show deserves.
The Doomwood Curse would have been a hit on TV in the 80’s or even in the new series. This one deserves a second listen.
You can learn more about The Doomwood Curse and Big Finish by visiting their website, www.bigfinish.com