Classic Doctors, New Monster Vol.2 rolls on and reaches the Sixth Doctor and his chosen “New Series” monster: The Carrionites. Now, I have to admit, I don’t remember much about them, other than they appeared in “the Shakespeare one”, so this really felt more like a bonus Sixth Doctor story, though towards the end there are at least hints as a stronger connection to the new monster’s first appearance than the others… Let’s take a look!
Katy Bell returns to her Midlands home to find strange goings-on at the buskers fair. A witch trial in the 1980s. A bonfire ready to be lit…
Luckily, a colourful visitor is already investigating, and the local vicar, Katy’s dad, is versed in tales of the macabre. Terrifying forces are on the loose, and the town hall holds a secret. There is black magic in the Black Country, and the Doctor has the name of his enemy on the tip of his tongue…
Something wicked this way comes.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Cast of Characters:
The Doctor (Colin Baker) – The Doctor is once again travelling alone, the harrowing trial for his life and the events surrounding it still fresh in his mind, so the last thing he needs is a bunch of witches throwing salt on the wound!
Katy Bell (Maya Sondhi) – A former resident of the odd little town returning for the festivities… By the end, she probably wishes she hadn’t.
Mary Sissinghurst / Carrionite (Andrée Bernard) – The witch-like Carrionite and the poor innocent woman unwittingly caught up in the terror.
Rev. Douglas Bell (Michael Fenton-Stevens) – The local vicar who has a neat collection of books on how to destroy such evil creatures, which is handy! He’s also the Dad of Katy… For the record.
Never before has a picture of a book looked so epic.
Although its been done a few times in the past, this story does well to play on The Doctor’s fears of becoming the Valeyard he saw during the Trial of a Time Lord epic. In fact the way the story ends and the frame of mind he’s in, this story fits nicely between Trial and Big Finish story The Wormery, which was previously thought to be the first event after the Trial, but given the state of mind The Doctor is in at the end of this, it would make sense to slot The Carrionite Curse in between.
Speaking of neatly connecting to other stories, I like the way this ties directly into the Tenth Doctor story. The Carrionites actually use the paradox of meeting an earlier version of the person who defeated them to gain power, which was fun to piece together. The other stories have been first meetings, but this is both a first meeting and a sequel at the same time, and works very well.
The extra cast in this are all really good in their roles, without being too cartoonish or cliché like in the first story of this boxset. I felt genuinely sad at the death of Katy Bell in the end (sorry, I did warn you about spoilers!)
I have to wonder why they couldn’t cast three Carrionites… The main one does all the speaking, and the other two are just said to be around at the same time. It’s really awkward when all three are about to be burned and the main one says something damning in response, leaving residing pseudo-judge Eileen to say “What, nothing to say? What about you? Just looking away, okay then” or something to that effect. Surely it would have worked out to use even the same actress twice just doing a more witchy voice. They didn’t need a lot of lines, but none (barring chanting) was just strange.
I have to say that unlike the previous two stories, this was a slower paced affair. There were a few times the Carrionites were captured or believed defeated, and that lead to some walking and talking or searching for book and talking… it doesn’t take away from the story over all too much, I guess it was just more noticeable because of the two previous stories and maybe the fact that I wasn’t as invested in the story due to not really remembering their TV appearance…
You could say “I didn’t need to put the box cover in every story”, but what if in the future someone just clicks on this story by itself?! What then!?
The Carrionites (as in literally these Carrionites) come from the Tenth Doctor TV story “The Shakespeare Code”.
There are also references to The Valeyard from the Sixth Doctor extended season-long “Trial of a Time Lord” story, as well as multiple audios. There are also several references to Jago and Litefoot from Fourth Doctor TV story “The Talons of Weng-Chiang”, plus a thousand or so audio stories!
The Carrionite Curse is the weakest of the three so far, but it is by no means a bad story (as you can tell by it scoring the same over-all as the previous two). It connects to both events from the Carrionites’ TV story and the Sixth Doctor’s big TV storyline effortlessly, and has a strong supporting cast to boot. Maybe if it was trimmed by like, 10 minutes it’d be right up there with the other two (so far). Still, as part of the (currently) £20 (to download for good) it’s a perfectly fine middle slice of a story.