Doctor Who: Season 26, Episode 8

The Curse of Fenric: Part One (25 Oct. 1989)

TV Episode  |  TV-PG  |   |  Adventure, Drama, Family
8.2
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 218 users  
Reviews: 4 user | 2 critic

The Doctor and Ace travel to a navel base off the coast of Northumberland towards the end of World War II. Where the Time Lord and his companion become entangled in an old Viking curse.

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Title: The Curse of Fenric: Part One (25 Oct 1989)

The Curse of Fenric: Part One (25 Oct 1989) on IMDb 8.2/10

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Ace
Dinsdale Landen ...
Alfred Lynch ...
Nicholas Parsons ...
Janet Henfrey ...
Tomasz Borkowy ...
Captain Sorin (as Tomek Bork)
Peter Czajowski ...
Sgt. Prozorov (as Peter Czajkowski)
Marek Anton ...
Vershinin
Mark Conrad ...
Petrossian
Joann Kenny ...
Jean
Joanne Bell ...
Phyllis
...
Cory Pulman ...
Kathleen Dudman
Aaron Handley ...
Baby (as Aaron Hanley)
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Storyline

The Doctor and Ace arrive at a Naval base on the cost of Northumerland towards the end of World War II. The Time lord and his young companion pretend to be from the war office. The purpose of which is that the Doctor wishes to meet the wheelchair bound Dr. Judson who's work at breaking German Cyphers is very important to the war effort. This is achieved through the use of the Ultima machine. An invention of the crippled genius's. Unknown however to the Doctor, Ace and Judson. A platoon of Russian soldiers lead by Captain Sorin have secretly arrived on the coast of Northumberland. Their goal: To steal the Ultima Machine. But unknown to the Doctor. The theft of the Ultima Machine has been partly devised by Commander Millington. The bases supreme commanding officer. A ruthless, military man who is unnaturally obsessed with Norse Mythology. For centuries ago a Viking ship moored on the very shores, next to where the base stands. Carrying with it an evil curse. The Time Lord soon realize ... Written by Robert McElwaine

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

world war two | 1940s | See All (2) »


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Release Date:

25 October 1989 (UK)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Because the episode overran, the information about the British troops' code was cut. This explains the extant reference to "the House Guests" in part three. See more »

Goofs

The Doctor states that they are in 1943, but the Russian soldiers are equipped with semi-automatic SKS rifles, which were not developed until 1944, and did not go into testing until 1945 in Germany. The SKS was finally adopted by the Russian army in 1949. In 1943, Russian soldiers were commonly equipped with the Mosin-Nagant 1891/30 bolt-action rifle, or possibly its M44 carbine variant, which was being field tested in 1943. See more »

Quotes

Ace: You know what's going on.
The Doctor: Yes.
Ace: You always know. You just can't be bothered to tell anyone. It's like it's some kind of a and only you know the rules. You knew all about that inscription being a computer programme, but you didn't tell me! You know about that old bottle and you're not telling me! Am I so stupid?
The Doctor: No that's not it.
Ace: Why then, I want to know!
The Doctor: Evil, evil since the dawn of time!
Ace: What do you mean?
The Doctor: Oh will you stop asking me these questions!
Ace: [shouts] Tell me!
The Doctor: [powerfully] The dawn of time....
[...]
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User Reviews

The George Lazenby of the Series
11 October 2014 | by (Tunbridge Wells, England) – See all my reviews

During my childhood and teenage years, and even during my time at university, I was an avid fan of "Doctor Who", but my enthusiasm for the series began to wane in the late eighties, by which time I was in my twenties. Part of the reason was the decision to move the programme from Saturday to a Wednesday timeslot, as work commitments meant that I could not always get home in time to watch it. This difficulty could no doubt have been overcome by the purchase of a video recorder, but another reason was that I disliked Sylvester McCoy's interpretation of the role. I therefore gave up watching, and when the BBC cancelled the series at the end of the 26th season I greeted their decision with indifference rather than the fury which would have been my reaction a few years earlier.

"The Curse of Fenric" was one of a number of serials which I missed because of my anti-McCoy boycott of the programme, and I had never seen it until it was recently broadcast on the "Horror" channel. It was the penultimate serial in that fateful 26th season; the very last "classic" Doctor Who adventure was the ironically inappropriately named "Survival".

The Doctor and his companion Ace arrive at a British military base in Northumberland during World War II. The base, he main purpose of which is to intercept and decipher German coded messages, is loosely based upon the real-life Bletchley Park, but whereas Bletchley had a vast team of cryptanalysts, all the work at this installation seems to be done by only two men with the aid of a computer. Trying to explain the plot in any more detail would be a vain endeavour. Suffice it to say that it involves Viking inscriptions, a group of Russian soldiers who are carrying out an invasion of Britain despite the fact that they were supposed to be our allies at the time, an insane British naval officer who seems far madder than any Nazi, a wheelchair-bound professor, an unbelieving parson, poison gas, a race of aquatic vampires known as Haemovores, an Oriental vase, a baby, a game of chess and some revelations about Ace's family background. Have you got all that?

Despite the wartime setting the villains are not the Nazis, who are conspicuous by their absence. Behind the mayhem which engulfs the base and the surrounding area is a being called Fenric, who, like The Mara which featured in some earlier episodes, is a disembodied evil entity from the dawn of time. Just as The Mara was derived from Hindu/Buddhist mythology, so Fenric is loosely based upon Norse myths; the name is derived from Fenrir, the monstrous wolf which fought against the Norse gods. (The original title for the serial was "The Wolves of Fenric").

Unfortunately, there is little in "The Curse of Fenric" to alter my view that McCoy was the George Lazenby of the series. I think that the problem was that he was originally a comic actor who tried to play the Doctor as a clown. When this proved unpopular with both the producers and the viewing public, the scriptwriters tried to make his character darker- the Seventh Doctor is for this reason sometimes referred to as the "dark clown"- but McCoy never really seemed able to convey this. I was never a great admirer, either, of Sophie Aldred's Ace, a surly, bolshie young woman who seemed to have a perpetual chip on her shoulder. Aldred also struck me as a rather wooden actress.

The acting is not, however, the only reason why I regard this serial as a failure. As might be apparent from my above list of all the many plot elements, the story is unnecessarily complex, difficult to follow and does not make a lot of sense. "The Curse of Fenric" is, unfortunately, not the only below-par adventure from the late eighties and while watching it I could easily understand just why the BBC executives decided not to bring "Doctor Who" back for a twenty-seventh season.

Some Goofs. Officers in the Royal Navy (unlike the Army and RAF) are required either to be clean-shaven or to wear a full beard. A moustache like Commander Millington's would not be permitted. Whoever came up with the name "haemovore" seems to have got his Greek confused with his Latin. The Greek form of "blood-eater" would be "haematophage" and the Latin "sanguivore".


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