Friday, 21 March 2014
REVIEW - DOCTOR WHO - THE CROOKED MAN - (SPOILER-FREE)
It's not what you think - it's better!
After the smash-hit that was The King of Sontar, I knew I was in for a treat with John Dorney's latest script. Like 99% of the fans who'd read the title, I must confess that I was thinking about the Crooked Man from the Series 7 Doctor Who episode Hide. I'd be lying if I said at least a small part of me was expecting something along those lines. Thank god I was wrong and thank the heavens that this Crooked Man only shares the same name. The Crooked Man is one of those adventures I wished could've been broadcast onscreen. Not just for it's dark and scary atmosphere, but for the amount of imagination that leaks out during the script.
John Dorney has written some of my personal favorites in The Burning Prince, The Justice of Jalxar and the King of Sontar, but my respect for this man has shot through the roof. I'm beyond that age where Doctor Who scares me. The closest I get is that odd jump or jolt from time to time, but I found this story harkening back to those days when I watched horror films underage. I'm guessing that's the feeling John wanted to create, so kudos to that.
Moving on to the plot, I can't spoil things, but I will say it features a surprising twist regarding the Crooked Man and another storyline I'm not really very fond of in Doctor Who. Dorney manages to utilize this storyline expertly and I was surprised by how much he managed to reel me into the tale. The Doctor and Leela are on holiday (as usual) when they stumble across a series of murders on the coast. These murders are particularly grotesque and I doubt something like that would've made it past the BBC back in the Tom Baker days. The investigation soon leads to a discovery regarding...
Oops! I said no spoilers, didn't I? Cheeky me!
Usually I only pay attention to like three members of the audio cast. Just the Doctor, companion and another main character. This time however, as with Scavenger, I found myself emotionally invested in all the characters here: Laura Corbett, a woman who just dreams of having the perfect family, her husband Simon and police officer Ellis Andrews. If there is one character I had to dislike, then I'd have to pick Lesley King. Dear god she's annoying. Good job Lizzie Roper for drawing in the realistic character traits of television hasbeens. Lizzie clearly had the toughest job of the cast. I hope your voice is recovering well.
Of course, let's talk about the Crooked Man. He is especially sinister and aptly played by Neil Stuke, who is welcome to haunt the dreams of countless Whovians with my blessing any day. I am especially satisfied that this Crooked Man is in no way connected to the Hide episode. Neil's version is as scary audibly as the visual representation we had in the episode.
I do have one hiccup that may or may not be deliberate John Dorney's part. As a forensic investigator, I found myself deducing the climax and the mystery about 10-15 minutes before it actually came out. Naturally, in these kinds of stories, it's possible for the listener to be one step ahead, but if this wasn't Dorney's intention, then it is something that kinda annoys you. Thankfully, the way I see it: I might just have had the necessary background experience. Not everybody might and so won't make my deduction. The deduction didn't spoil the story for me. In fact, it only served to help me enjoy it more.
Rating this story: 10/10. Perfect score, need I say more?
Catch up on the other spoiler-free Fourth Doctor Adventure reviews with: