Whilst on the way to visit the birthplace of Mr. James, a chance encounter with a spiritualist on a train sends the Doctor and Romana on the trail of a ghost. It’s the most convincing case of haunting he’s ever heard of, he tells them. And so, on their arrival, does it appear to be.
Things go bump in the night at Malkin Place. The voice of a crying child. Birds bursting into flight. Strange movements in a seance. The Doctor is determined there must be a rational explanation. But is science always the answer to everything?
Archetypal Ghost Story
Writer, Phil Mulryne had achieved an impressive feat by giving us a familiar-feeling, yet wholly original take on the archetypal ghost story. This sounds like a contradiction, but Mulryne takes a largely commonplace set-up but gives us a twist only Doctor Who could deliver. Yes, there’s a seance and a poltergeist style spectre, but it’s the introduction of the time travel elements of the show and the wartime sub-setting that elevate and differentiate this story from its predecessors. Big Finish once again demonstrates that Doctor Who can adapt to fit any genre.
Do You Believe?
Simon Jones gives a fantastic, humorous performance as the spiritualist Talbot, but it’s Gunnar Cauthery and Fiona Sheehan who steal the show with a highly charged emotional companionship as brother and sister duo Maurice & Beatrice. Tom Baker and Lalla Ward both shine, with perfectly judged dialogue and interaction. Again, Mulryne expertly captures these two well-loved characters different reactions to his story’s specific plot points. Whilst the Doctor is open to the possibility that this might actually be a haunted place, Romana, of course, doesn’t for a moment believe in Ghosts.
Delivers a Great Deal
My only criticism of the whole production is that the denouement feels a little rushed. That aside, however, this piece works well to deliver a great deal in the short two-part time frame.
The end of the story works perfectly as a horror genre “just-when-you-thought-everything-was-resolved” moment. It’s not a set up for a follow-up story but wraps up the plot with a quintessential horror conclusion.
If you like Doctor Who and ghosts stories then you’ll love the perfect synthesis of the two in The Haunting of Malkin Place.
BLOGTOR RATING 9/10
Written By: Phil Mulryne
Directed By: Nicholas Briggs
Tom Baker (The Doctor), Lalla Ward (Romana), Simon Jones (Talbot), Denise Black (Mrs Mountford), Gunnar Cauthery (Maurice), Fiona Sheehan (Beatrice), Rikki Lawton (Tom), Phil Mulryne (Jack).
Producer David Richardson
Script Editor John Dorney
Executive Producers Jason Haigh-Ellery and Nicholas Briggs