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Doctor Who - The Curse of Fenric  [DVD] 
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This is one of the best Sylvester McCoy stories. The plot craftily borrows from John Carpenters 1979 chiller The Fog. Guest stars Nicholas Parsons as a vicar.
Doctor Who: The Curse of Fenric is one of the best of Sylvester McCoys Seventh Doctor adventures, a complex tale set around a naval installation on the North Yorkshire coast during WWII. The busy plot involves a Russian commando unit, a code-breaking computer, opening gambits in the Cold War, ancient Norse inscriptions concerning even more ancient evil, a new twist on vampirism, chess, global pollution and a creature from the end of human history. Key to all this is the theme of faith and a time paradox centred on Ace (Sophie Aldred), which ultimately turns out to be the resolution to mysteries that have haunted the Doctors companion all her life (they were first touched upon in 1987's Dragonfire, also written by Ian Briggs).
The show was shot entirely on location and has above average production values, generating tension and exciting set-pieces even when the plot threatens to get lost in its own tangles. Nicholas Parsons complements McCoy and Aldred by turning in a strong performance as the local minister and the tale pays homage to such horrors as Plague of the Zombies (1966), Night of the Living Dead (1968), and John Carpenters The Fog (1980) and Prince of Darkness (1987) with aplomb. Sadly there would only be one more story, the disappointing Survival (1989), before the BBC put the Doctor into suspended animation.
On the DVD: Doctor Who: The Curse of Fenric is presented in two versions on a truly remarkable two-disc set. Disc 1 contains the four original 25-minute episodes exactly as originally broadcast with stereo sound. Disc 2 offers a completely updated version of the Special Edition originally released on video in 1991. This 103-minute version is supervised by composer Mark Ayres and follows director Nicholas Malletts original cut. The episodes are edited like a feature film and incorporate approximately 10 minutes of extra story material. The picture has been regraded and the sound remixed into full Dolby Digital 5.1 by Mark Ayres using the original stereo sound elements and his music files. The result is a massive improvement over the original series' episodes.
Disc 1 also includes an informative commentary with McCoy, Aldred and Parsons and an isolated score. There is the usual information text, scored photo gallery and subtitles for the episodes and the commentary. "Modelling the Dead" shows Sue Moore and Stephen Mansfield making the Haemovore masks; "Claws and Effect" shows the BBC Special Effects unit on location; also included are 20 minutes of highlights from the 1990 Nebula 90 SF convention with Aldred, Ayres, Briggs, Tomek Bork, Joann Kenny, Mansfield and Moore, while "Take Two" is a four-minute piece on the story presented by Phillip Schofield. Disc 2 also features "Shattering the Chains" (an excellent analysis of the show by writer Ian Briggs), "Recutting the Runes" (a fascinating interview with Mark Ayres on preparing the Special Edition) and a good interview with costume designer Ken Trew. --Gary S DalkinSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Season 26 of Doctor Who as a whole was absolutely incredible, taking things up a notch from Season 25, which in itself was damn good. The 4 episodes that make up Curse are a fine example of this- exciting, creepy, thrilling, and mysterious. The Cartmel Masterplan was well underway and Doctor Who was finally utilising its potetial to be the ultimate sci-fi series ever - and also a great family show... yes, FAMILY but not CHILDREN'S. Children could enjoy the show for the action, adventure, and scary monsters, but at the same time their parents would be able to appreciate so much more.
The Doctor was not the man he used to be. He was becoming mysterious, manipulative, threatening even. He no longer stumbled randomly from place to place, falling into trouble and getting out of it, in seasons 25-26 you always got the feeling he was... up to something. Sure enough, upon arrival at a WWII British military base the doc ends up battling an ancient enemy from deep in his past, coincidence? One gets the eerie feeling that maybe all these years he claimed to not really know where he was going, maybe he did, and that he had a reason...
Anyway, forgetting the dr for a second, then we have Ace, probably the most interesting character ever to travel in the TARDIS (aside from the dr of course). Unlike most other regulars throughout Who's original 25year run Ace actually had character development!!! She grew, blossomed and matured in her 31 episodes on TV(not to mention what happened to her in the book series that ran when the series was cancelled!Read more ›
Uncle Sylvester is the dark doctor to a tee, especially effective as he "rejects" Ace. Sophie gets to play Ace reacting to seeing her family history come alive. Does she inadvertantly engineer her own future?
A top notch guest cast with Alfred Lynch as the thoroughly unpleasant Millington, Dinsdale Landen as a sightly unnerving scientist/codebreaker and ....(watch it to find out) plus Nicholas Parsons as a priest who doubts his own faith. I'm not a fan of stunt casting (Ken Dodd-aarrhggh!) but the old gameshow host gives a beautiful performance. I can't mention them all but there are no bad turns here and watch for Anne Reid of "Smith & Jones" fame (obviously she's got a thing about blood sucking menaces!).
Great monsters, when the Haemovores rise out of the sea it's a standout moment and in fact a pretty well directed tale all round.
A slight demerit for the business of revealing why the Doctor moved a chess piece in Lady Peinforte's study the year before (in Silver Nemesis). Without a clip or better explanation it's just a pointless throwaway reference really.
All in all the last classic for the epic original run of the Police Box Show.
We get a feature length special edition (different to the extended video version) as well as the broadcast version and there are some interesting differences but there's still not much to choose between them for overall quality.Read more ›
Two years previously, sure; then the news would have been the cue to switch off the telly and go to the pub. But no, here we are, in Northumberland, in the middle of WWII, and the deadly poison is about to hit the whirly wheels of the Ultima Machine.
The references to Bletchley Park are unmistakable, and still (if you squint) you can imagine Judson and Millington having 'a past', and I do wish they'd retained that idea because the morality of the 1940s is shot through this like a stain through silk. Miss Hardacre's sanctimony, Wainwright's trembling faith, and Catherine's outrage at Ace's (understandable) assumption that she might not be married.
The script is excellent, especially for the era; really something special. The acting, from Mr Landon, Mr Lynch, Miss Henfrey and Miss Read superb. Mr McCoy and Miss Aldred are each at their best. Nobody slouches in this tale (though from what's said in The Making Of, they may all have been scared of Mr Bork).
All on location (at Crowborough, not Northumberland) it looks brilliant; nothing to unsettle the belief that something horrible really is going on.
And it's got vampires; wet, soggy, water-damaged vampires. They rise out of the sea, the thirsty corpses of the drowned - Ken Trew clearly had a whale of a time making them - the Sea Devils, that was good; the Marshmen, that was good; these things are something else. (My only regret is not seeing more of the different ones - the two lumpy faced ones seem a tiny bit ubiquitous, but never mind).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Loved the story, loved the acting, loved the characters, pretty much loved everything, at some points it can drag on a bit, but I rate it 9/10, it's a really great episode, must... Read morePublished 5 months ago by RadGeekGamer
The one true classic of the McCoy era and the last classic of the original series; an interesting script, well realised with atmosphere and sound performances throughout. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Glump
From the final series of classic Doctor who, 'The Curse of Fenric' is one of many stories from the era which demonstrate that the BBC should never have taken the show off the air... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Benjamin Coupland
The Curse of Fenric is quite possibly one of the best stories from the Sylvester McCoy era and possible one of the best Doctor Who tales ever. Read morePublished 15 months ago by TARDIS Traveller