Doctor Who: Ravenous 1 – World Damnation & Sweet Salvation Review

DW Ravenous 1 P2

While the first two parts of Ravenous 1 were pretty much standalone, the second half of the set is a two-parter, clearing a few lingering things from Doom Coalition before setting the foundations for this series going forward. It features the return of crazy rouge Time Lord The Eleven, but also features the return of Z-list villain The Kandyman, though not as an evil Bertie Bassett this time. Does it all work?! Well, let’s find out, shall we?

Official Synopsis (of Part 3 “World of Damnation”):

Rykerzon is a maximum-security planetoid designed to hold the most dangerous criminals in the star system. The Governor plans to reform its inmates, with the help of the Kandyman. But two prisoners prove particularly troublesome: the alien fugitives known as the Eleven, and Miss Helen Sinclair.

The Doctor and Liv have finally tracked down their friend – but are they too late?

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

DW World of Damnation Cover

Helen and The Eleven are back!

The Doctor (Paul McGann) – The Doctor has successfully tracked Helen down, but it’s been longer than he’d hoped from her perspective. Is she still the same woman that she was when he and Liv left her…?

Liv Chenka (Nicola Walker) – The ever-sarcastic Liv has arrived back roughly in her own time (though far from Kaldor), but all that matters to her is that she finds Helen and helps her out of what ever mess she’s in…

Helen Sinclair (Hattie Morahan) – Helen has had a rough time since the Battle TARDIS she and The Eleven were piloting crashed. She not only followed the directions of the Sonomancer, but she seemingly gained a good chunk of her psychic powers to boot. After many months on Rykerzon with The Eleven, she has began to empathise with the man… or, er, men, I guess?

The Eleven (Mark Bonnar) – A Time Lord who has become so mentally unstable that all 10 of his previous selves are constantly active in his head, sometimes able to even take over and control his speech and actions. The Eleven, with the exception of The Eight, has always been bad though, so no matter what he’s never to be trusted…

The Kandyman (Nicholas Rowe) – Sugar-based android who was previously destroyed by The Doctor and Ace. His sweet, sweet remains were collected and a new, more human-looking, sugary body was made for him by The Eleven. He now once again plots to use sweets and sugar to take over the minds of a populace…

Jarl (Charlie Condou) – A young lad with psychic abilities, he gets extremely nervous if he’s not near Ruzalla…

Ruzalla (Pippa Bennett-Warner) – Ruzalla wants to protect Jarl, but at the same time she used his abilities to commit crimes, which has landed them both in prison. All she can do now is hope to find him again, and make things right…

Plus more!

The Good:

DW Sweet Salvation Cover

Now if the Kandyman looked like that in the TV series he’d be far more fondly remembered… Well, maybe fondly is a bad word…

The overall two-part story had two goals to achieve: reunite The Doctor and Liv with Helen, and set up the over-arching plot for the Ravenous storyline. It does both of these well, while also having a pair of great villains with The Eleven and The Kandyman. Yes, The Kandyman is actually a great villain here! Who’d of thought it? I mean, he still uses sweet-based puns and analogies, so it’s still hard to take him 100% seriously, but his more menacing tone and look (thanks cover artist!) makes it far more sinister than unintentionally hilarious like his previous appearance.

The Eleven is still a great villain, constantly being interrupted by himself and generally being off his rocker, though he seems more sane when he’s paired with The Kandyman. The two wish to use a combination of Kandyman’s sweetener ingested by the masses and a psychic spiderweb linked to a powerful psychic to literally take control of an entire planet’s population. He nearly succeeds too, until The Doctor reunites the psychic Jarl with his close friend Ruzalla, and together they turn the psychic flow back on The Eleven. It also has to be mentioned that the Kandyman once again gets melted by enzymes and ends up with a similarly high-pitched voice that he did in the TV show. I’d complain but The Eleven, who built this new body for the sugar-based android, mentions how he kept those very enzymes on the base for that very reason, so I can’t complain about coincidence there!

Beyond the lead villains and their plot there’s Helen, who is mentioned to have inherited the Sonomancer’s psychic powers during the big Doom Coalition climax. It doesn’t directly turn up in the story, though The Doctor is weary of Helen throughout, and let’s face it, they’re not going to plant that seed and then not return to it down the line! The rest of the guest cast is fine, Jarl sounds wimpy and pathetic, Ruzalla sounds like a criminal with a good heart, and there are governors and mayors and other higher-ups that all do their roles perfectly fine.

Then there’s “The Ravenous”. A group of … psychic, soul-type creatures that are briefly glimpsed by The Doctor and co., and fully experienced by The Eleven. They’re apparently the old cliché of being “powerful beings from the old times” and talked about as myths on Gallifrey. Not the most original introduction, but I’m looking forward to expanding this new bit of mythos as the series progresses.

The Bad:

Not a lot to say, really. As far as two-parters go it was fine, it swapped locations and had a large enough cast that it didn’t slow down. Even though I still hate The Kandyman from TV, this version was more enjoyable, if not still a bit too on the jokey side to take seriously. This was meant to set up the next three Ravenous boxes, and it accomplishes that perfectly.

The Continuity:

DW Ravenous 1 Cover

The box cover, though it may as well be the cover for just these two stories… Churchill and planes aside.

As I mentioned several times, this is The Kandyman’s first appearance (ignoring brief comic cameos) since the Seventh Doctor TV story “The Happiness Patrol”. Kandyman specifically mentions his last encounter with The Doctor on Terra Alpha, the planet from the story.

The Eleven, Helen and all mentions of the Sonomancer come from the Doom Coalition series, which given this is a direct follow up of it, shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Overall Thoughts:

This two-part story, if anything, over-achieves. It needed to reunite The Doctor, Liv and Helen, and set up the rest of the series. It does both of those things, but also throws in another great performance from The Eleven and redeems the near-irredeemably bad Kandyman. A great two hours to end the first set on.

5 Star Listen

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