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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Doctor Who: The Curse of Fenric: Part Four starts as the evil entity
Fenric in the body of Dr. Judson (Dinsdale Landen) challenges the
Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) to a rematch of a game of chess that it lost
seventeen centuries earlier. With Haemovores attacking the Naval base &
Fenric's plan to pollute the entire Earth with the deadly toxic gas
that Commander Millington (Alfred Lynch) has been developing &
stockpiling in the base things look bad & it's down to the Doctor to
save the day...
Episode 11 from season 26 this originally aired here in the UK during November 1989, directed by Nicholas Mallett I have to say I was really rather disappointed The Curse of Fenric & actually consider it a pretty poor story all round. The script by Ian Briggs is a bit of a mess, he tries to bind everything together at the end with some tenuous explanations about everyone being pawns in Fenric's plans & everything that has happened has been down to Fenric's manipulation. There's even a little environmental message here as well with the Doctor confirming that the mutated Haemovores are in fact humans of the future after centuries of pollution. Then there's a bizarre ending in which Ace jumps into the sea fully clothed for no apparent reason, there's a pointless subplot about Audrey the baby being her own mother & the entire episode revolves around a game of chess between the Doctor & Fenric. Maybe it's all meant to be symbolic or have some great significance somehow but a game of chess? Come on, please the entire fate of the planet rests on a game of chess? For some reason the Doctor never makes a move, I always thought it took two people to play chess. Also considering Fenric is some sort of super evil bad guy from the dawn of time that can possess people & travel in time he is killed rather easily at the end isn't he? If he was that easy to kill how was he going to survive his own plan to wipe the human race out since he was vulnerable to the toxic gas as well? Speaking of the toxic gas how do the Doctor & Ace survive when the gas grenade goes off in Commander Millington's room? There is clearly lots of the green toxic gas yet they only cough a bit while a few minutes later when it is used on a couple of soldiers they die almost instantly & so does Fenric while in the body of Capatin Sorin at the end. So why doesn't the toxic gas kill the Doctor or Ace? Also why does Fenric & the Ancient Haemovore kill all the other Haemovores? Surely it would have been better to keep them around as guards or protection or something like that. Maybe I have been a touch harsh but I have to say the more I actually think about The Curse of Fenric the more I dislike it. I also think that this story doesn't really suit the four twenty five minute episode format & I think the longer 'movie' style version on the DVD is a lot better with extra scenes that fleshes out the plot a bit better.
The Curse of Fenric was the final four part story of the classic era & the penultimate story as a whole with only the three part Survival (1989) left before it was canned. There's a couple of reasonable battle scenes & explosions but nothing compared to some of the stuff from the 70's & the Jon Pertwee & UNIT eras in particular. They just seem a little bit flat, almost like those amateur war recreations people put on during the weekend. Compare this to some of the footage in The Sea Devils (1972) for instance & it's like night & day. The Ancient Haemovore looks pretty impressive although it doesn't really get to do much except just sort of stand there.
The Curse of Fenric: Part Four is a disappointing end to what I think is actually a pretty poor story, it's watchable but I doubt I would ever want to see it again & there's no sense of fun here either. Overall I will give The Curse of Fenric a distinctly average five stars out of ten across it's four episodes.
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