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New Who 11.8 The Witchfinders

This story raised the question of the Doctor's non-interference policy for Earth history early on, when Yaz asked "even if something's not right?", but it also found two ways to dodge really answering it. Graham's insistence that he has never heard of Bilehurst (sp?) Crag equates to the way Hartnell and Troughton's pure historical episodes were increasingly slotted into explicit gaps in the historical record (e.g. The Highlanders), while this one eventually proved to be a pseudo-historical in any case.

I'm afraid I found the Moxon hordes pretty underwhelming once they were released from their tree and able to speak through what had been Becka Savage - just another roaring monster, blithering about its plans and then being implausibly-easily defeated, really. There was also a bit of a stylistic mis-match between crisp, twinkling King James and the dreich, dismal atmosphere of the village - itself sometimes so muddy it threatened to tip over into Monty Python or Maid Marian and her Merry Men-style comedy territory. And I fully expected to hear at some point exactly what had happened to Mistress Savage's husband and why she had had all horses shot - some poor script editing there, perhaps, leaving unresolved loose threads?

Still, the early witch-ducking sequence was pretty good, as were the possessed revenants; there was just enough dialogue about systemic misogyny without it becoming preachy; and I enjoyed both Siobhan Finneran as Becka Savage and Alan Cummings as the king - especially when he was flirting with Ryan. I think I'd sum this one up as 'could have better, but definitely not bad'. Certainly better than last week's, anyway, which I liked less and less the more I thought through its implications over the couple of days following its broadcast.

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 26th, 2018 07:12 am (UTC)
I enjoyed this one quite a bit - certainly more than "Kerblam!" which - as you note - seems to be less & less enjoyable as time progresses.

Whilst the plot of Witchfinders was mediocre and the ultimate foes being nothing more than generic alien 'conquer-the-world-blah-blah-whatever', there were some bright spots: Alan Cummings was particularly enjoyable as King James & enough to carry the episode over the line from 'alright' to 'enjoyable'. Ok, perhaps it veered more pastiche & panto than plot & peril than absolutely necessary, but it was enjoyable nonetheless.

More generally, this felt as though it had been inspired by 'The Unquiet Dead', except set in Elizabethan times with King James instead of Charles Dickens!
Nov. 26th, 2018 08:41 pm (UTC)
The Unquiet Dead

Yes, indeed - very much so!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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