The Haunting of Malkin Place

May 22, 2017

Released May 2017
SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW

After hearing strange footsteps in the Doctor’s house at Baker Street that leads them to search out the birthplace of Henry James, a chance encounter with a spiritualist on a train instead sends the Doctor and Romana on a ghost hunt, following the supposed trail of the most convincing stories of a genuine haunting ever heard. With strange movements and noises commonplace at Malkin Place, the intrepid duo quickly find their beliefs challenged as the scientific and the spiritual collide in spectacular fashion.

The ghosts of Malkin Place quickly come into focus as the tormented Maurice is duly introduced, the denizen who has employed the spiritualist, Talbot, to help him make sense of the strange occurrences as he tries to understand his own past. Fittingly, Romana adamantly refuses to believe in the existence of ghosts even as she goads the Doctor on, but it’s clear as soon as the travelers arrive on the property that this is not going to be a light-hearted affair. The introduction of Talbot necessarily forms a significant portion of the first episode, but events truly pick up when Gunnar Cauthery is introduced as Maurice and his character’s mystery and personal demons make themselves known.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a séance ensues to try to connect to and give voice to the spiritual realm so affecting Malkin Place. This is just one of quite a few very visual moments in the script, and full credit must be given to Jamie Robertson’s sound design for creating such an ominous atmosphere and being able to explain what is occurring without much need for dialogue. There are still some occasional awkward moments where characters do have to explicitly state what has just happened, but the shroud of darkness does at least make many of these moments somewhat understandable. More importantly, the events of the séance begin to reveal a very physical component to the threat at hand that quite directly ties back to Maurice’s own past.

The strange mystery is explained piece by piece at a satisfying pace in the second episode, but it’s the final quarter where the story truly shines as Maurice and his twin sister must finally face the truth while humanity and emotion overtake unexplained scares. It’s here that the Doctor finds himself in his element, traversing time and looking past acquaintanceship and camaraderie to put events back on their proper course. This is another time where the Doctor must take the long path back, but that personal sacrifice allows him to take care of some unfinished personal business in the process. Truly, it’s a shame that these few moments in the past do not get more substantial time for exploration since they are so powerful even in their condensed format, but the resolution is just as strong in concept regardless.

Atmospheric and mysterious as the Doctor and Romana find their beliefs challenged, ‘The Haunting of Malking Place’ is another enjoyable addition to The Fourth Doctor Adventures which continues to experiment more and more with its format and conventions. While the resolution doesn’t get quite the time it deserves to unfold because of the time spent on the exposition, the wonderful performances from all involved buoyed by great sound design expertly bring this very visual mystery to life.

Wrap Up

The Haunting of Malkin Place

Pros

Cons

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