Season Fifteen was a transitional era for Doctor Who, one part hangover from the gothic Hinchcliffe era, one part brave new era which would be honed to perfection in Season Sixteen and Seventeen, and the latest release in the Fourth Doctor series, The Crooked Man, is a great homage to this transitional period. It treads the well trodden path of gothic horror in part one, and goes all bonkers sci-fi in part two, but does it work? Well dear reader, read on and we shall see…
The Crooked Man starts with a scene in an antiquarian book shop and a quite horrific death. Books are very very important to the story in fact, the books ARE the story in many ways. The Doctor and Leela arrive at the scene and Tom commandingly takes over with his usual bonhomie, having the local constable defer to him in almost no time, he then goes on to investigate a series of murders that have taken place in this sleepy seaside town. The investigation eventually brings him into contact with Laura and Simon Corbett and their baby son Edward (great choice of name by the way!) but giving any more away would spoil the story.
Laura is played by Sarah Smart (of Ganger fame), a perfect choice as the bookish new mum Laura, as I said, books are very very important to the story, in fact the questions posed regarding the nature of reality contained within them is integral to the resolution.
The Crooked Man of the title is played by Neil Stuke, he plays it with a delightful evil glee and is really quite revolting, think the child catcher mixed with the Judder Man from the old Metz advert, throw into the mix a character called Lesley King who is a fab Peggy Mitchell parody and you have a melting pot of different styles that shouldn’t work, but they really really do.
The tone of the two episodes is completely at odds with each other, but it really does gel, and the resolution is very clever, quite well signposted, but still a surprising revelation. The ending brings in so me genuine Nu-Who emotion, however, it’s underplayed very nicely and sadly, sometimes loves doesn’t conquer all and perfection isn’t the solution, but the problem.
A very enjoyable story, quite schizophrenic, with a variety of tones and broad and subtle performances from all involved with many “meta” moments which again I can’t go in to as spoilers will ensue, but believe me, it’s well worth a listen.
I close the book on thus one at chapter 9/10.
Written by Ed Watkinson
Winter at the seaside. The wind blows. The waves crash. People are dying and a strange spindly figure stalks the cold, deserted streets. A typical holiday for the Doctor and Leela in other words.
When they stumble across a grotesque series of murders at the coast, the TARDIS travellers realise the local constabulary is out of its depth. Something supernatural has come to town, something evil. And it all seems to be tied in to a particular young family.
Monsters lurk behind strange doors. Tragic secrets wait to be uncovered. And somewhere, deep within, the Crooked Man sits. He is waiting for you.
Tom Baker (The Doctor), Louise Jameson (Leela), Neil Stuke (The Crooked Man), Sarah Smart (Laura Corbett), Robin Pearce (Simon Corbett/Reporter), Richard Earl (Ellis Andrews/Rance), Lizzie Roper (Celia Turner/Lesley King)
Written By: John Dorney
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs
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