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Castle of Fear (Doctor Who) Audio CD – Audiobook, 31 Oct 2009
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Top customer reviews
The Doctor's bewilderement and foreboding are brought out immediately, when landing in the Middle Ages he and his companion Nyssa appear to have been expected. How do the local serfs and peasants know so much about the Time Lord, his TARDIS, and his apparel? What is the eerie mist that is blighting the land? And what are the so-called 'demons' who are possessing Stockbridge castle and subsuming the wills of any humans who come into their path..? An old enemy of The Doctor's is on the prowl again, and it will take all of the Time Lords' determination and ingenuity to emerge triumphant once again...
What I liked most about this story was the irreverent humour - many of the asides, muttered comments from the extras, and dialogue, bring to mind episodes of Monty Python and Blackadder. The historical setting also provides numerous opportunities for anachronistic jokes and dramatic irony, whilst the location of Stockbridge itself is one that has been used in Doctor Who novels, comic strips, and annuals several times in the past, thus lending a vaguely familiar tinge to the drama and providing fans with titbits that are not continuity-laden nor too abstruse and off-putting for more casual listeners.
As well as the usual interviews with cast and crew at the end of the first disc, the latest installment in the intriguing bonus story 'The Three Companions' adds value to this purchase; Thomas Brewster's manipulative schemes continue apace, whilst The Brigadier and Polly battle on valiantly.
Overall then this is a fine effort from Big Finish; after the equally compelling Paper Cuts (Doctor Who) and the impressive Blue Forgotten Planet (Doctor Who), it seems that Nick Briggs and co. have hit a purple patch - long may it continue!
In this story, the Doctor and Nyssa have visited Stockbridge in 1889 to see the Stockbridge mummers’ play, a Christmas tradition which the Doctor has promised to Nyssa. However, there are a number of uncomfortably familiar references in the play, and the Doctor and Nyssa decide that they had better go and investigate further. In Stockbridge in 1199, Hubert, the Earl of Mummerset has returned from the Crusades, and wants to take possession of Stockbridge Castle. Only there appear to be demons inhabitating the castle, and Hubert’s not quite brave enough to take them on single-handed.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story, both as a stand-alone story, and as the first of the Stockbridge trilogy. It is a really enjoyable Fifth Doctor story, where the Doctor is written perfectly; a good blend of sarcasm and dark muttering peppers his conversation, whether talking to others or, quite often to himself, and the relationship between him and Nyssa is really wonderfully worked into the story, with Nyssa being a strongly independent character with quite forceful opinions.
There is a lot of humour in this story, but it is never over the top, and never out of place. While it does, at times, have a slight feeling of Blackadder, or Maid Marian and her Merry Men, or even Monty Python, it is all done so delightfully charmingly that you can’t help but smile, or laugh at the references, and the wit throughout.
The story has a very serious side to it, and there are, amongst the moments of humour, some moments of horror; as it says in the notes with the cd, Barnaby Edwards, the Director, notes that the blend of funny and horrible by turns, is, he imagines, much like the Middle Ages. I would imagine he’s right.
A great story, and one which will delight and entertain the listener, this is a story which is well written, well paced, and very well played by a great cast. Joe Thomas as Hubert, Susan Brown as Maud the Withered, and John Sessions as Roland of Brittany in particular bring the story to life, very ably supported by an assortment of Turkish knights, French paladins, yokels (“We ain’t peasants, we’re serfs!”), mummers, demons, and wild boars. The story ends on a cliffhanger and leads directly into the next story in the trilogy, The Eternal Summer.