The Labyrinth of Buda Castle

Posted in Audio by - February 21, 2016
The Labyrinth of Buda Castle

Released February 2016

While the previous The Fourth Doctor Adventures tale ‘Wave of Destruction’ fit firmly into the mould of a classic series 17 story, ‘The Labyrinth of Buda Castle’ goes down a slightly more intriguing route, expertly melding together the flippancy and humour of Tom Baker’s latter years with the pervading horror homages and atmosphere so prevalent in his earlier years.

The Doctor and Romana land in Budapest for a holiday and quickly find themselves investigating a man’s death, one seemingly caused by a vampire. They soon find that this is just one in a larger string of recent attacks and, aided by vampire hunter Celia Soames seeking the legendary Count Dracula, they embark to find out the secret of the nearby Buda caves and the soldiers within them.

Quite ingeniously, Kate Bracken’s Celia acts as the traditional companion of this tale as Romana does some detective work of her own. Although she is a vampire hunter, she’s not the single-minded and insensitive could they are stereotypically portrayed as; rather, she has a strong humanity and morality about her and is visibly shaken up when she has to accept that humans have built a history upon suffering and misery. After getting past her initial theory that the Doctor is, in fact, Count Dracula himself, she plays off of Tom Baker’s Doctor exceedingly well, instantly proving her usefulness and willingness to help even if that means adapting her own misguided beliefs.

The villainous Zoltan Frid, played wonderfully by Mark Bonnar, isn’t quite what anyone is expecting and has apparently been waiting a very long time for his plan to come to fruition. Quite interestingly, however, the Doctor and Zoltan seem to complement each other rather well, each one praising the other and respecting the other’s lengthy list of triumphs. This is the type of scene that only the Fourth Doctor can do, and both actors enthusiastically deliver. Of course, as Romana’s research uncovers, Frid’s threat is a very real one- though perhaps not in the classic vampiric sense- and time is most certainly of the essence. It’s this continual shifting between horror and comedy that continues right to the mischievous resolution that serves the story so well.

Sadly, as evocative as the labyrinthine caves and the claustrophobic threat of a pursuing monster could potentially be, the story never makes much use of the intrinsic atmosphere. Instead, the whole affair is a rather talkative one which, although it certainly serves to highlight the villain and Celia who demand so much of the allotted time, also ends up seeming like a missed opportunity for an easy chance at heightened tension and ambiance. Still, the quality of the villain and de facto companion along with the expected strong performances of Tom Baker and Lalla Ward- somewhat limited though they may be- make ‘The Labyrinth of Buda Castle’ an overall enjoyable tale.

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