The Doomwood Curse

Posted in Audio by - July 11, 2016
The Doomwood Curse

Released August 2008

Tracking a lost book, the Sixth Doctor and Charley travel to London in 1738, arriving at the seemingly idyllic and tranquil country estate of one Sir Ralph and Lady Sybil. Appearances once again prove deceiving, though, with highwayman Dick Turnpin tormenting traveling souls, a murderer wreaking havoc, and the very fabric of reality in the balance. A race against time ensues, with only forty-eight hours to solve the mystery of the Doomwood Curse.

Right from the start, ‘The Doomwood Curse’ proves itself as a story filled with great ideas. The Factualizer which the Grel use to change bad facts into good facts is an intriguing narrative device that sets the plot into motion, and the Doctor refusing to tell Charley the end of the story, instead choosing to take her back in time to obtain another copy, is perfectly in character. The changing of facts, in the end, means changing fiction into reality, and Charley becomes the receptacle of the nanite particles when the machine explodes, turning her into another plot device as well to tie together the disparate plot threads. In such a crucial time period where the printed novel is gaining prevalence, the threat of the spreading particles is immense; Dick Turnpin, the only person who is both real and fictional, unwittingly becomes the most important man in existence.

Considering that Colin Baker and India Fisher have only been together for one previous adventure, the two share a remarkable chemistry. Charley seems to have the run of the TARDIS, and there is clearly an implicit trust between the two characters that suggests a much deeper friendship than their short time together might otherwise. The Sixth Doctor on display here is clearly the more nuanced and balanced character that Big Finish has been working so hard to reform, and he plays to the fictional aspects of this story wonderfully, even getting a chance to indulge in a bit of hammy dialogue and occasional comedy to perfectly fit the situation. Charley, on the other hand, is enthralled by the prospect of curses and the romantic notions of highwaymen, and Fisher does well in changing her delivery just enough to fit in with the twisting fiction-driven plot as needed. She does nearly slip up a few times and give away the fact that she has traveled with one of the Doctor’s future incarnations, but she also shows how adept at thinking on her feet she is by trying to sound as naive as possible when discussing the potential existence of laws of time.

It seems apparent that everyone involved in the production enjoyed themselves immensely, the melodrama and twisting plot resulting in engaging performances that pique interest from beginning to end. Nicky Henson brings Dick Turnpin to life wonderfully and Jonathan Firth is convincing as John through whose eyes the continuing changes in narrative are experienced. Perhaps the standout is Geraldine Newman as the macabre Lady Sybil, a fantastic foil of sorts to the Doctor throughout the tale.

In the end, ‘The Doomwood Curse’ comes off as an enjoyable success, a pseudo-historical with a sensationalized twist. The characters and atmosphere comes alive superbly, and the plot keeps delivering mysteries and throwing in clever twists to keep everyone involved guessing until a very well-deserved climax with conflicting facts. The Grel have been exclusively used in the Bernice Summerfield range up until this point, but ‘The Doomwood Curse’ is a strong introduction into the proper Doctor Who Big Finish canon.

  • Release Date: 8/2008
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