The Doctor’s travels through time are interrupted by an unwelcome guest – not Charley, his strange new traveling companion who seems to know more than she’s saying (and claims to have amnesia), but rather a small ‘bot which arrives to tell the Doctor that a library book he checked out is long overdue. The book in question, a rather paint-by-numbers 18th century romance which makes a romantic hero out of notorious highwayman Dick Turpin, captures Charley’s imagination, but now she’ll have to help the Doctor return it before she can finish it. At the library, the Doctor and Charley discover a group of Grell arguing over the merits (or lack thereof) of fiction. Unable to grasp anything but the truth, the Grell have little tolerance for fiction, and it looks as though they’re about to put literary masterpieces into a bonfire. Charley interrupts their plans, but the book she was trying to return to the library is charred almost beyond recognition. The TARDIS next destination is the 18th century itself, but when events begin to unfold that parallel the plot of the damaged book, the Doctor grows suspicious. The plot developments spiral out of control, and Charley lterally loses herself in the story, becoming first the heroine of the piece, and then Dick Turpin’s deadly sidekick. Can the Doctor bring this land of fiction back to reality before Charley has a fatal date with destiny?
Cast: Colin Baker (The Doctor), India Fisher (Charlotte Pollard), Nicky Henson (Dick Turpin), Jonathan Firth (John), Hayley Atwell (Eleanor), Trevor Cooper (Sir Ralph), Geraldine Newman (Lady Sybil), Daisy Douglas (Susan), Suzie Chard (Molly)
Timeline: after The Condemned and before Brotherhood Of The Daleks
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: A rather entertaining tale, The Doomwood Curse lets the listener think they’ve worked out what’s going on, long before laying out the real ground rules of the story. It’s all too easy to roll one’s eyes and dismiss the first two episodes as a Doctor Who version of the perennial “holodeck gone wild” story, but it”s a little more intricate than that.
Those looking for further revelations of the sixth Doctor’s awkward relationship with Charley – who had already traveled with his eighth incarnation but of course can say nothing about it – may be disappointed to find that it’s moved from the foreground to mere background bread crumbs (Charley has to hastily backpedal when she replies “I’ve already got one” to the Doctor’s offer of a TARDIS key). The real meat of the Doctor/Charley character development is the Doctor’s innate trust of his new sidekick – she seems to have already developed a deep trust in him in a very short time, after all.
The rest of the story is intriguing, to say the least, and several members of the cast get a chance to go over the top in their performances (to explain why would be to give away too much of the story). It’s fun to hear the cast go for it like this, because after a while, you’re in on the joke – and it’s imperative that you get in on the joke by sunrise!
The Doomwood Curse is a very entertaining story; set it aside for a bit if you’re not in the mood for the relative frivolity of it all, but it is worth a listen.