The Curse of Fatal Death

Doctor WhoThe Doctor lures the Master to the planet Terserus, the home of an extinct race infamous for its method of communicating via flatulence. Perhaps feeling his half-human oats, the Doctor announces his intention to wed his pretty assistant Emma, something which disgusts the Master to no end – so it’s fortunate that the evil Time Lord has prepared a series of nasty traps, to which he immediately and repeatedly falls victim himself. But the Master’s allies, the Daleks, are rather less clumsy and have plans to take over the universe. The Doctor makes a final bid, for the love of Emma and the entire cosmos, to halt the Daleks’ evil plans at the cost of not just one, but three of his precious lives…

written by Steven Moffat
directed by John Henderson

Cast: Rowan Atkinson (The Ninth Doctor), Jonathan Pryce (The Master), Julia Sawalha (Emma), Richard E. Grant (The Tenth Doctor), Jim Broadbent (The Eleventh Doctor), Hugh Grant (The Twelfth Doctor), Joanna Lumley (The Thirteenth Doctor), Roy Skelton (Dalek voice), Dave Chapman (Dalek voice)

LogBook entry & review by Earl Green

Review: This hysterically spot-on Comic Relief spoof brought Doctor Who back to the BBC in style, and puts the lie to the BBC’s assertion that it doesn’t have the facilities to produce Doctor Who anymore. In some scenes, the effects work seen in The Curse Of Fatal Death outclasses the 1996 Fox TV movie! And even though it recycled a couple of elements from the Tom Baker era opening titles, the new title sequence made my heart skip a beat. Silly though it may be, Doctor Who was once again back.

And I can’t stress enough what a wonderful Doctor former Blackadder/Mr. Bean star Rowan Atkinson makes. Other parodies have played the comedy to the hilt, but Atkinson and his co-stars wisely aim for understatement and deadpan humor, barely cracking so much as a smile until the lightning-fast succession of silly regenerations begins, at which point the proceedings become much more tongue-in-cheek. The funny thing is that I could actually imagine the Doctor calmly asking “how are things?” upon being reunited with the Daleks. Jonathan Pryce also makes a magnificent Master, and I heartily recommend a reunion of these two actors in these two roles when the Beeb finally comes around and revives the series properly.

The rapid-fire regenerations barely give one a chance to get used to each resulting incarnation of the Doctor, but the point was to squeeze as many famous actors and comedians into as short a space as possible. Of the various prematurated Doctors, the best is easily – surprisingly – Hugh Grant, who was pooh-poohed by many fans when he was rumored to be in the running for the role in the 1996 Fox movie. He lasts all of a couple of minutes in The Curse Of Fatal Death, but Grant makes a passable Doctor. When Hugh regenerates into Joanna Lumley, the show dives off the deep end into outrageous camp – but it’s also almost over by that point!

Though I’m not sure any sane Who historians would consider it “canon” (but if the show is never revived, what the hell?), but I tremendously enjoyed The Curse Of Fatal Death…if for no other reason than proving that the BBC could be, and should be, producing new Doctor Who adventures right now…if they’d just come to their senses.