The Beast of Orlok

Posted in Audio by - September 13, 2017
The Beast of Orlok

Released May 2009

‘With fangs like splinters, claws like knives, the Beast of Orlok gobbles lives. With brimstone breath and eyes aglow, he’ll eat your soul- to Hell you’ll go!’ With the memory of fourteen unexplained dismembered bodies attributed to a mysterious beast twenty years ago, the town of Orlok in 1827 Germany finds itself haunted by the memory of its past as the killings begin anew. When the Doctor and Lucie arrive unannounced, however, they quickly find themselves under suspicion in a mystery that spans the cosmos.

Hearkening back to the beloved Philip Hinchcliffe era of Tom Baker’s tenure, ‘The Beast of Orlok’ makes the most of its claustrophobic village setting deep within the forest where gruesome murders are becoming commonplace thanks to some truly superb sound design and direction that perfectly amplify the tension and atmosphere. Unsurprisingly, what begins as a rather straightforward horror tale is given a science fiction twist as the shadowy Baron is revealed to be a General in the Rabzao Planetary League, a military alliance that continually fails when one of its members develops a new weapon and turns on the others. Through a lengthy exposition scene, it is revealed that Hans and Greta are biological units created by Judah who were sent to Earth twenty years ago for their own safety, a new generation of the artificial Golems that are outlawed by Article 12 of the Galactic Code because of their unwavering devotion to following orders and near invulnerability. Admittedly, the plot is quite light, and a deeper exploration of the similarities and differences between the children and traditional Golems could have given extra depth to really resonate, but it does flow logically from beginning to end and provides plenty of tense intrigue as events unfold.

It almost goes without saying that the cast is uniformly excellent. Though the story does not even hint at the Doctor’s struggle to return to his earlier lifestyle after the groundwork put in place in the two previous releases, the performances of both Paul McGann and Sheridan Smith are as strong as ever and continue to make the case for this being one of the most dynamic pairings aboard the TARDIS in the franchise’s history. Miriam Margolyes gives a fantastic turn in the crucial role of Frau Tod, Samuel Barnett shares a superb chemistry with Lucie as Hans, and Peter Guinness gives a chilling performance as Baron Teufel, these three highlighting a guest cast that excels in every respect.

‘The Beast of Orlok’ is a story full of the very best elements of Doctor Who, creating a macabre yet whimsical fairy tale that comes to life spectacularly. While it’s certainly not a script that is going to rank among the most challenging or intellectual since it bypasses several opportunities to explore the situation and characters in more depth, it nonetheless confidently tells its tale after setting the scene with an immense and stifling atmosphere at the beginning. Still, on a pure enjoyment level ‘The Beast of Orlok’ is amongst the finest The Eighth Doctor Adventures has offered to date, and the future continues to look bright for this well-paced range and its vibrant leads.

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