Review by Doctor Squee (Host of Gallifrey Stands Podcast)
I love the 4th Doctor range and usually only have good things to say; so where as this adventure isn’t without it’s charms, it’s with a heavy heart that I say it misses on a number of levels.
The story is set around the Doctor (Tom Baker) & Romana (Lalla Ward) meeting a spiritualist by the name of Talbot on a train. He is on the way to the titular Malkin Place to investigate the most convincing case of haunting he has ever come across. This is off course too much for the Doctor to pass up. When they get there, they hear sounds of children that aren’t there and so much more that can’t readily be explained.
The pacing miss-fires in this for me. It’s all mystery up front, then all resolution in the last 10 minutes. The Doctor doesn’t do his usual job at hinting he knows what’s going on, or at least has an idea. There is no looking at a seemly innocuous item and stating ‘this may very well be the key to it all’ only for it to be explained later. They don’t even seem to have many theories till they work it all out.
Tom Baker of course plays the Doctor in an interesting way as always as does Lalla Ward as Romana but I feel they aren’t given much to work on with the script. The Doctor is short on his mile a minute dialogue and whereas Romana does keep saying she doesn’t believe in ghosts and there must be a rational explanation, she does seem to offer many other than vague ideas.
The last 10 – 15 minutes are really good though. The explanation we finally get is satisfying and fits neatly. I’m just not sure why this wasn’t diced into the 45 minutes that went before.
The casting by director Nicholas Briggs is also on point. Simon Jones (famous for playing Arthur Dent in TV & radio’s Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy) is wonderful as Talbot and I didn’t even realise it was him. He perfectly embodies this egocentric spiritual investigator. Denise Black as Mrs Mountford is also just right and gives a great presences as the housekeeper who isn’t keep on séances.
The real shame is this has in it a good script from writer Phil Mulryne; I just wished I had felt as good throughout the story as I did in it’s dying minutes.
I give this 6/10 on the E-metre
You can buy it here https://www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/the-haunting-of-malkin-place-1237
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