Reviewed By: JMChurch25
Review Date: 3/4/19 9:52 pm
1 out of 1 found this review helpful.
"Castle of Fear" by Alan Barnes is the first of a trilogy of stories surrounding the Fifth Doctor and the tiny English village Stockbridge with which he has a fondness for. Spending Christmas in the town of Stockbridge in 1899, the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa are perplexed by his and the TARDIS' appearance in a local play. Several centuries early in the same place, a young Earl returns to claim his title and castle home only to find it infested by demons. It's obvious the two events are connected and when the duo travels back in time to find out more, they are whisked up in a whirlwind of kooky peasants, wild boars, stuck up warriors, and a surprise foe with a lesser known Classic history.
If all of this sounds like a Doctor Who version of "Monty Python and the Holy Grail", then you are going to be rather happy because that's more or less what this audio is. While it's more amusingly humorous than laugh out loud hilarious, "Castle of Fear" is still a silly and rather enjoyable ride in that regard. Despite the rather intimidating cover art, everything in the soundscape from the medieval setting to the weird hit or miss humor is meant specifically to replicate that sort of vibe. If that's not your cup of tea, then you will utterly despite this story as Barnes' script really envelops you with that atmosphere regardless of whether the various elements stick with you or not. The premise is appropriately timey-wimey justifying the reason why characters sound similar to each other though it takes a while for the story to get to where it wants to go. The story only grabs you once the Doctor and Nyssa jump back in time which at the end of Part 1 meaning the first fourth is mostly set up with not much to go on. It tries to have a few twists to provide a fair bit of tension but only one of them actually works with the rest falling a little bit flat.
But that doesn't mean it's still not enjoyable because once things get going, it becomes a riotous romp of a tale with the TARDIS team forced from one situation to the next. Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton are forced into the more serious nature of their roles in conjunction with all of the over the top zaniness and you can tell both actors are having a lot of fun with that conjunction. The side cast is all also a lot of fun even if the surprise villains struggle a bit with their voices in sounding too much like another popular foe.
Honestly, I really want to rank "Castle of Fear" a bit higher than what it deserves because it's such a fun time. I do think it is a great story and well worth checking out especially for fans of the genre and Monty Python. But unfortunately, some of it's bigger flaws do keep it from being an amazing release and it's not one for everyone even if it has become a personal favorite of mine.