DW: Ravenous 2 – Better Watch Out / Fairytale of Salzburg Review

DW Rav2 P2

It’s the start of October and it’s time for a new Doctor Who Christmas story! The Eighth Doctor already holds the prize for best Doctor Who Christmas story with the classic audio “The Chimes of Midnight”, and while I don’t think this topples it, it’s a damn fine story. Creepy, fun and told with a really interesting story-within-story narrative, this two parter is not to be missed (though probably best listened to a little closer to December…)

Synopsis:

The Doctor hopes to take Liv’s mind off recent events by treating his companions to a traditional European Christmas. But not everybody is full of the spirit of Christmas when a wave of misery follows the Krampus as they run through the streets of Salzburg…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

The Doctor (Paul McGann) – The Doctor loves a good snowy Christmas and he’s thrilled to be able to share such wonderful times with Liv and Helen… Yeah… Maybe he should have thought about that…

Liv Chenka (Nicola Walker) – Liv isn’t really in the mood for fun and festive cheer, but at least she isn’t in immediate danger… Right now…

Helen Sinclair (Hattie Morahan) – Helen loves a good Christmas and is delighted to be able to share her tradition with Liv… at least until all the killing.

Shafranek (Jamie Newall) – Shafranek is your classic Scrooge, completely heartless and only concerned about himself and how he can get rich. In other words, he needs to be taught a lesson…

Maria Werner (Susan Hingley) – Maria and her mother were evicted from their house by Shafranek, despite their father/husband committing suicide in order to try and get them insurance money. If only she could get her revenge…

The Krampus and his Imps (Various) – Fictional devil that if he should ever come into existence would cause a hell of a lot of damage…

Plus more!

The Good:

DW Rav2 Better Watch Out Cover

Yeah, I’ll admit that if that stalked the streets every December 5th, I’d be good all year…

The story starts off with everyone enjoying a lovely Christmas in Salzburg, which The Doctor describes as “Very chocolate box. Very biscuity.”, which made me laugh. We then get the classic Scrooge character and The Doctor trying to change his mind unsuccessfully, before all Hell breaks loose… literally. The jokey imps start getting taken over by real ones, though ones that still talking with a cartoony voice, which leads to people being dragged away to Hell as the Krampus emerges from the ground as a towering devil-like figure. The Doctor is caught, Liv and Helen go on the run, and Part 1 ends. Great, slow build up before everything goes to pieces.

Part 2 shows us that Maria, who lost her father due to the evil ways of landlord Shafranek (and aforementioned Scrooge figure), is responsible for the creation of the real Krampus when a mysterious man offered her any wish, and she chose to say that she wishes the Krampus was real so he could take Shafranek away. Somehow, this actually worked, and that’s that! It’s actually never explained who this strange wish giver was, only speculated that it could have been an alien with reality bending abilities, or just “magic”, though… presumably the former.

Anyway, Liv and Maria track down the wish granter but fail to undo her wish, and Helen takes a trip in the TARDIS, presumably retaining some memory of her time as the Sonomancer, and after several decades manages to find the real Priest Nicholas who would one day become idolized as jolly Saint Nick, and bring him to Salzburg. Thanks to this Krampus being based on the myth, the mythical boss and powerful foe of him appearing and ordering him to return everyone and undo the damage meant it did just that, before vanishing. Liv then uses her one wish the mysterious wish giver said she could have to de-age Helen, and we’re back to normal! Great stuff.

What was really clever was that during all of this there were two sets of people telling the story, one was an old woman talking to a Priest (which turned out to be Helen talking to St. Nick) and the other was The Doctor showing someone the Hellish Salzburg and convincing him that it was his fault. We were lead to believe this was Shafranek, but it was actually Maria’s father, whom the Doctor had stopped from committing suicide to show the results of breaking her daughter’s heart. It was a really nice twist, and gave us the sweet ending of a family reunion.

The Bad:

Not much to say, if I’m honest. It was the perfect Christmas tale, plus was just written damn well, and gave plenty for all the lead cast to do. That’s John Dorney for ya! He’s had more hit scripts than just about anyone associated with the show.

The Continuity:

DW Rav2 Fairytale of Salzburg Cover

and if THAT was what the creepy things dragged me to, I’d DEFINITELY be good all year!

Not much to directly link this to anything, apart from a Christmas setting, and I’m not writing out all of the Doctor Who Christmas specials here!

Overall Thoughts:

Big Finish out-do the TV series at creating Christmas stories once again. This two parter is a great festive tale, and just a well-written and acted piece of Who. It’s been a couple of years since I listened to The Chimes of Midnight, but it’s got to be close for best Christmas Who story between that and this, and that’s high praise indeed! Worth the price of the boxset by itself!

5 Star Listen

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