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The Curse of Fenric

Rating Votes
10
43%
50
9
30%
35
8
18%
21
7
8%
9
6
2%
2
5
0%
0
4
0%
0
3
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2
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Average Rating
9.0
Votes
117
Director:
Writer:

Latest Community Reviews

From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
10
Plot Rating:
9
Acting Rating:
9
Replay Rating:
10
Effects Rating:
9
Has Prerequisite(s):
Yes
Reviewed By: XxDachshundxX Review Date: 9/23/18 8:10 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

My favourite Doctor Who stories are the gothic, scary, spine-chilling narratives with lurking monsters and ancient lore thrown in for good measure. If you’re like me in loving that, you’re going to love The Curse of Fenric.
The Curse of Fenric is an incredible story set in WWII with the Doctor and Ace chronicling the rise of vampires from the future that are controlled by an Elder God called Fenric. The Doctor has met Fenric before, where he beat him at a game of chess and imprisoned him, and now Fenric has escaping to wreak havoc upon creation.
One of the strongest features of The Curse of Fenric is how it is set up. The first two episodes are essentially just establishing the training camp, the English soldiers, the Russian soldiers, the other characters and the Viking curse. It’s a bit slow, but not like padding. It has relevance to the story and is actually very interesting. Without the two establishing episodes, I’m not sure whether this narrative would have been as strong.
Once we get to the action packed last two episodes, things take a dramatic turn as vampires rise from the sea and attack people. The horror of it is very realistic and is probably the most horrific violence we have seen on television. The imagery of the vampires attacking the church and graveyard is very well done. The whole thing of faith works very well within the story, but better than in The God Complex which is a rip-off of the themes in this story.
The music in this story is very iconic, with the slow menacing tinkling and the inverted scales. It’s very much a trademark of this story.
This story also marks one of the biggest character development moments for Ace. At the start of this story, she is a girl, acting sassy towards everyone and being playful. When it becomes apparent that she and her past are part of the narrative, her character takes a turn and she becomes hardened and worried. At the end, after Fenric has been defeated, she becomes a woman in her own right. Luckily, in the next story, her character is the same, so the development pays off.
This story is my second favourite Doctor Who story of all time and it really deserves the place.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
10
Plot Rating:
10
Acting Rating:
9
Replay Rating:
10
Effects Rating:
8
Has Prerequisite(s):
Unsure
Reviewed By: BrainofMorbius23Review Date: 9/5/17 1:05 am
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.

Blimey well it's either this or rememberance of the daleks... but both stories are a testament to the fact that if they kept going this show would have probably come into the nineties in its original health. The stories clearly starting to improve in 25th - 26th seasons but curse is not just good it's classic tier !
Fenric is a great villain , we have great companion development which may influence how they are done now !
The wolves are freaky zombie like sea swollen terrors and the side cast is excellent!

Yeah it's a ripper 10/10
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
8
Plot Rating:
8
Acting Rating:
10
Replay Rating:
9
Effects Rating:
10
Has Prerequisite(s):
Yes
Reviewed By: TCar96Review Date: 12/19/16 9:49 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

It's hard to think that Ian Briggs wrote both this and Dragonfire - it's the antipode of that serial in almost every respect: dynamic, exciting, mature and engaging.

A well textured period piece, the Doctor and Ace finding themselves amidst WWII fall into (problematic, given 'fall' implying a degree of chance - not the cunning foresight of 7!) a trap several millennia in the making...

There's a Norse mystery; military spying; multiple fulfilling character arcs and a spectacular monster invasion with the awesomely executed Haemovores. To cap it all off there's the culmination of a range of thematic and plot elements surrounding Ace. It's hard to place all of this at the pen of Briggs: Ace's maturity in particular and the weight of thematic elements all suggest a great deal of influence from Cartmel. His other trademarks: mystery, machinations and memorable moments all come to the forefront.

Unfortunately so do Cartmel's negative traits. One of by major issues (and font of praise!) of Cartmel's tenure is the political dimension of the show. Whilst a welcome addition bringing depth and some meatier sci-fi to the programme, occasionally pushing the envelope too far introduces an irritating preachy-ness that is counter-productive at best, jarring and quarrelsome at worst. Fenric really illustrates both. Reverend Wainwright is a George Bell archetype and successfully weaves in the philosophical and ethically quandary of allied carpet bombing during the war. Done with aplomb its there for us internet dwellers to sink our teeth into - but light enough to sail over the heads of those simply wanted a pacy mystery and alien invasion. The quandary is posited by one character, opposed by another. No caricature is used (ala the infamous 'no coloureds' of Remembrance). Such tact is wholly ignored however when the Red Army are introduced on screen. Thankfully, the audience is reminded that Hitler was a "dreadful man" as if we're all drooling canvasses - meanwhile we're treated to a wholly benign view of the Red Army!

This, for me, is the issue when Doctor Who gets explicitly political rather than illustrating ethical dilemmas with tact. It is the difference between political commentary and instruction. The latter, in a time-travelling drama for family audiences leads to big issues. The Red Army breaks into a British military installation - with the script and direction telling us the latter are the antagonists. British soldiers graphically murder Red Army soldiers whilst we cheer along as Ace is handed the Hammer and Sickle. For a programme that revolves around a principled hero tearing down autocracies - this is problematic, big time. The grass is only just growing over Katyn; the toll of Holodomor only just being taken into account - broadcast in October 1989 only half a year had passed since the brutal Tbilisi massacre. Having our British reverend killed in his lack of faith in Christianity - before having our Red Army soldier heroically survive through his faith in the revolution - is again, really problematic. The Doctor wouldn't, in my view at least, be 'in character' if happily allowing an einsatzgruppen to pin a swastika onto Ace. He oughtn't be accepting to happily allow a Hammer and Sickle to be pinned onto a companion either.

Besides the politics there's another Cartmel gripe to boot, namely that there's a fine line between complexity and mystery.. and just simply poor explanation. There's a repeat of my Ghost Light problem - namely to what extent do I just 'not get it'; to what extent am I expected to do the donkey work (not necessarily a bad thing!) and to what extent is the script just not cutting it. Other areas of pedantry would include the one poor effect: the chemical shells clearly some partially vacuum formed wall and that heartwretching ending - which is brushed off far too easily. After shattering Ace's faith in him, there ought to have been a monster of a credit cut with ramifications well into the next serial. A real missed opportunity.

It can't be emphasised enough however that these gripes, despite my excessively long elucidation, detract very little from what is a superb little serial. Great location work; snappy editing; a great score and some fantastic action too - with the Church fight in particular up there with the Dalek assault on Coal Hill school as one of my favourite action set-pieces. It certainly misfires on the odd occasion, but is doing so because it's really raising the bar of what Doctor Who is expected to do. A fine illustration of why the old mantra of Season 26 is wholly true. Following Remembrance, Ghost Light and Greatest Show within a matter of months - Doctor Who wasn't just finding its feet, but was embarking on a golden age tragically cut short.
From the Reviewer:
User Rating:
7
Plot Rating:
7
Acting Rating:
7
Replay Rating:
7
Effects Rating:
8
Has Prerequisite(s):
No
Reviewed By: adamelijahReview Date: 6/10/15 11:52 pm
0 out of 0 found this review helpful.

The Curse of Fenric is spooky and full of atmosphere as we deal with a combination of Norse legends, vampires rising from water, a timey wimey backstory for a companion, and the Doctor battling an age old foe.

The relationship between the Doctor and Ace is often enjoyable and there are great sparks such as Ace really letting the Doctor have it for all of his manipulation and games, the warm moments between, and the absolutely devastating point when the Doctor tells Fenric to kill Ace and works to disillusion her. This set the stage for the direction the Virgin New Adventures would take Doctor Who during the wilderness years. In many ways, this and Ghost Light feel like the Beta test for New Who and the relationship between the Companions.

Curse of Fenric is a fine story, but it's only a Beta test. For all that's engaging and fascinating stuff going on, there's a still a sense that it's not quite there. Many of the story's most powerful moments between Doctor and Companion seem to come out of nowhere and carry little of the lasting impact you'd expect. I also have to admit it's a little hard to wrap my mind around the idea that this is a story arc that's been going on for 3 seasons as the stories don't seem related.

The Curse of Fenric was directed by Nicholas Mallett, who also worked on Paradise Towers and this story had many of its strenghts--and its weaknesses. Overall, this is an important and landmark Doctor Who story and it's definitely a worthwhile story, but its flaws ultimately stop it from rising to relative greatness compared to the truly Doctor Who stories that came before and after.