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The Malus in Little Hodcombe
War games take place in Little Hodcombe, as the awakening of the Malus is about to take place!
This is a two-part adventure by Eric Pringle, set in the English village of Little Hodcombe in 1984. It features Peter Davison as the Doctor with Janet Fielding as Tegan and Mark Strickson as Turlough.
The Doctor takes the TARDIS to Little Hodcombe so that Tegan can see her grandfather. But when they get there, the villagers re-enact dangerous war games from 1643 as the Malus wakes with its evil.
This is an interesting two-parter that flew by pretty quickly for me. I don’t fully understand the story and I think it would have worked better as a four-parter, since a lot of it gets very rushed at the end.
I liked the English village setting of ‘The Awakening’. ‘Doctor Who’ stories set in English villages seem to work well, as they provide an excellent backdrop for engaging action-packed sequences seen in this.
Peter Davison excels as the Doctor in this adventure. The Doctor gets pretty tetchy and flippant at times, as he’s determined to find out what’s going and makes intriguing discoveries about the Malus.
Janet Fielding is okay as Tegan in this adventure. It was interesting to find her wanting to meet up with her grandfather. She gets forced to become the Queen of the May as part of the village’s traditions.
Mark Strickson is also okay as Turlough in this adventure. He tends to be shifty and cowardly at times, especially when he and Tegan split up. He meets Tegan’s grandfather when they get locked up.
Polly James guest stars as Jane Hampden, the village school teacher. She doesn’t like what goes on with the war games in the village and soon helps the Doctor in finding a way to stop the Malus’ evil.
Denis Lill guest stars as Sir George Hutchinson. Sir George is in charge of the war games and is determined to see them carry on. He’s under the influence of the Malus and becomes its servant.
Keith Jayne guest stars as Will Chandler, a boy taken from 1643 and put into 1984. He meets the Doctor and helps to stop the Malus. I don’t know how Will would have worked if he became a companion.
The cast also includes Glyn Houston (who I’ve seen in ‘Some Mothers Do ‘Ave Them’) as Colonel Ben Wolsey; Jack Galloway as Joseph Willow and Frederick Hall as Andrew Verney, Tegan’s grandfather.
The Malus is impressive! The special effects are amazing when it’s in the church wall with smoke.
The DVD special features are as follows. There’s the ‘Return to Little Hodcombe’ making-of documentary; the ‘Making the Malus’ featurette; the ‘Now & Then’ locations featurette; a ‘From the Cutting Room Floor’ item; ‘The Golden Eggs Award’ outtake from the story and a photo gallery of the story.
There’s also a commentary with director Michael Owen Morris and script editor Eric Saward, moderated by Toby Hadoke and an isolated music option by Peter Howell. There’s also an info-text commentary option to enjoy and a ‘Radio Times Listings’ PDF of the story to be accessed on a PC.
There’s a ‘coming soon’ trailer for ‘Paradise Towers’ with Sylvester McCoy and Bonnie Langford.
I enjoyed ‘The Awakening’ with Peter Davison, Janet Fielding and Mark Strickson. It’s not the best Fifth Doctor story I’ve seen, but it’s far from terrible and I love the lush location of the English village.
‘Earth Story’ has been an enjoyable if unusual set of ‘Doctor Who’ stories to watch on DVD. It’s not the best collection I’ve seen, but ‘The Gunfighters’ and ‘The Awakening’ are worth the entertainment. If you fancy an adventure set on Earth with the Doctor, then this box set is for you!
‘The Awakening’ rating – 6/10
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