Saturday, December 15, 2012

Big Finish - Castle of Fear

Big Finish monthly release 127 - Castle of Fear by Alan Barnes, directed by Barnaby Edwards.

After the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa encounter a traditional Mummers play in 1899 they travel back to Stockbridge in 1199 to discover why the Doctor himself has become part of the George and the Dragon story. And to solve the mystery of the Castle of Fear itself.

Oh dear, oh dear. What a disappointment. The title itself had me excited, Castle of Fear is just a brilliant name for a Doctor Who story, and written by Alan Barnes himself. I was really looking forward to something spooky and unsettling, but instead I heard a weak attempt at recreating the humour of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. There are puns, strange bits of word play, silly accents and scenes and lines that are either a knowing homage, or just a straight steal from the film. None of it worked for me I'm afraid. I once had the misfortune of getting stuck on a school bus next to someone who recited entire Monty Python sketches to me word for word, and this reminded me of that long and painful journey. The original sketches and films are indeed funny, but don't try to recreate them. They are what they are and any attempt to copy them has to be extremely good or it falls flat.

Apart from the title and the cover image I cannot find anything good to say about this one. Peter Davison is his usual amiable self but Sarah Sutton seems wooden and the rest of the cast just ham it up. John Sessions is in there and his performance is even more bizarre than anything he did in Gormenghast. Oh, it was all disappointing. Maybe Alan Barnes is better as a script editor.

Shudder. My current favourite Big Finish Doctor gets a mere 1 out of 5 electric knights. Here's hoping that the Sixth and Jamie can restore my faith.

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