‘THE CROOKED MAN’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
The Land of Fiction with the Fourth Doctor and Leela
This is an intriguing and mind-boggling ‘Doctor Who’ story to listen to! It’s one I’ve greatly enjoyed!
‘The Crooked Man’ is the third adventure in the second season of Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’ starring Tom Baker as the Doctor and Louise Jameson as Leela. It’s a story that revisits familiar territory in ‘Doctor Who’ but with a different slant on it. I’m very happy I managed to listen to this audio drama.
This is a two-part adventure by John Dorney and it is directed by Nicholas Briggs. This is John Dorney’s second contribution to the second season of Fourth Doctor and Leela audios (the first was ‘The King of Sontar’). The producer David Richardson specifically asked John Dorney to write this one, based on an idea.
In this, the Doctor and Leela visit a seaside town called Eastwold in England. A series of murders have taken place at this strange town and a mysterious creature stalks the streets of Eastwold. The Doctor and Leela know something is amiss and it concerns this young family with a connection to fiction itself.
This story, in many ways, is a sequel to ‘The Mind Robber’ as the Doctor and Leela visit the Land of Fiction. Or rather, the Land of Fiction visits them. The Crooked Man maliciously haunts the young Corbett family and they become these victims when fiction and reality become too much to cope with.
I like how John Dorney gradually builds up the story when revealing the Doctor and Leela are in the Land of Fiction. It’s not as exciting as I found ‘The Mind Robber’ to be, but it’s intriguing how that world becomes over-filled and the gateway to that world gets opened for the Crooked Man to get into ours.
Tom Baker is superb as the Doctor in this adventure. I like some of Tom’s funny lines and he clearly enjoys working on the John Dorney-penned scripts as he said so in the CD extras. It’s interesting how Tom’s Doctor works things out and realises what’s happening as he and Leela are in the Land of Fiction.
It was funny when the Doctor and Leela interacted with the author Lesley King and how he initially thought she was asking for his autograph when she wasn’t. The Doctor recalls his experiences of being in the Land of Fiction before, though it’s very different with there being no Gulliver or Rapunzel.
Louise Jameson is lovely as Leela in this adventure. Recently, Leela was reading books such as ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ in the TARDIS from ‘White Ghosts’. It’s interesting how Leela copes with being in the Land of Fiction and the Doctor remarks how she can be so literal-minded and not very imaginative.
There’s a nice touching moment and an interesting character point for Leela where she mentions her father’s death in ‘The Face of Evil’. She shares this with Laura Corbett who also lost her father. It’s intriguing how the comparison is made with how Leela mourned for her father and how Laura mourns her father.
Sarah Smart guest stars as Laura Corbett. Sarah has appeared in the ‘Doctor Who’ story ‘The Rebel Flesh’/’The Almost People’ with Matt Smith. It was lovely to hear Sarah in this audio drama. She’s lovely; got a clear voice for ‘Doctor Who’ audio and delivers the emotional core of this story superbly.
Laura is a mother and a wife who lives in Eastwold. She tries to sell books to a bookshop run by someone called Rance and she lives in this idealised world with her perfect husband and baby. But Laura’s life isn’t as cosy as it seems since her father was an author and she knows of the Crooked Man.
Neil Stuke guest stars as the Crooked Man. Neil delivers this chilling and terrifying performance as the Crooked Man, making him sound so maniacal and malicious. Neil was the choice of producer David Richardson and it’s interesting how John Dorney toned down the character during the scripting stages.
The Crooked Man comes from the Land of Fiction and haunts the streets of Eastwold. He kills people by stuffing paper down somebody’s neck including bookkeeper Rance. He also breaks the spine of a book to kill Celia Turner and he steals the Corbetts’ baby. Will Tom Baker’s Doctor defeat this monster?
Robin Pearce guest stars as Simon Corbett, Laura’s husband. I enjoyed the scenes between Laura and her husband Simon as they seem so happy and idyllic in their marriage and raising a family. But it transpires that Simon isn’t what he seems and may prove to be an important link to the story’s events.
The guest cast also includes Richard Earl as P.C. Ellis Andrews as well as Rance and there’s Lizzie Roper as the sweet Celia Turner as well as the not-so-nice author called Lesley King. I won’t say any more about the tale’s conclusion since that would give away the spoilers. That would never do, would it? 😀
‘The Crooked Man’ has been a great ‘Doctor Who’ audio adventure to listen to. It’s not as good as ‘The Mind Robber’ in my humble opinion. But it’s an interesting angle that John Dorney’s taken to revisit the Land of Fiction and it’s interesting how the Doctor and Leela cope with what happens during the story.
The CD extras are as follows. At the end of the disc, there are behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew. They are interviews with Tom Baker; Louise Jameson; Sarah Smart; Neil Stuke; Robin Pearce; Richard Earl; Lizzie Roper; writer John Dorney; producer David Richardson; director Nicholas Briggs; etc. There is a trailer for the next story with the Doctor and Leela called ‘The Evil One’.
‘The Crooked Man’ rating – 8/10
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Do you remember my rant about this story towards a certain Sci-Fi magazine who gave it 2/5? I asked em if they actually listened to it because it’s worthy of 4/5 or 8/10 as you brilliantly reviewed & rated this excellent audio drama.
There’s a touch of the Brother’s Grimm about this story in the writing, a dark fantasy type audio which plays to the strengths of Tom’s bonkers but brilliant Doctor & Leela.
Fantastic review Tim & perfectly summarised.
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I don’t remember that actually. Which sci-fi magazine was it? That’s a bit harsh to give it a low rating. It wasn’t that bad surely. Maybe the reviewer didn’t enjoy it so much as you and I, which is understandable. I haven’t heard this story in a while but I did enjoy it from what I can recall of it. I’m glad you enjoyed it too.
I liked the links to ‘The Mind Robber’ and the Land of Fiction with the Fourth Doctor and Leela in this adventure. I need to listen to this again. I’m sure it’s very good with Tom Baker and Louise Jameson as well as Sarah Smart and Neil Stuke.
Thanks for your comments.
Great review Tim
I have to say that this two-part adventure was an absolute thriller and a great introduction to the Big Finish Fourth Doctor Adventures. I recently created a thread on this story on the Divergent Universe and I rated it 5/5. The Crooked Man himself was a very epic villain and the way he was defeated was such a shock when coupled with the twist just before. Tom Baker and Louise Jameson were stellar as the Doctor and Leela. I wonder why Louise wasn’t in any of the BTS photos.
As you may know, the standout for me other than Neil Sturke as the Crooked Man was Sarah Smart as Laura Corbett. She brought a lot of drama and emotion into the character. Remember when you said you didn’t know that Sarah was in ‘At Home with the Braithwaites’ with Peter Davison. Well she mentions that she did the series with him in the BTS feature at the end of the CD and that Peter is her favourite Doctor. Then again it might have been a while since you heard the extras. I’m surprised Sarah didn’t mention playing Jennifer Lucas in ‘The Rebel Flesh’/‘The Almost People’. Furthermore I’m surprised that Sarah hasn’t done any Fifth Doctor audios. Did you decide to watch a few episodes of ‘At Home with the Braithwaites’ Tim or do you still think it’s not your kind of series?
Today and tomorrow, I will listen to ‘Feast of Fear and share my thoughts on it.
Take care, WF92.
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Glad you enjoyed my review on ‘The Crooked Man’. It’s been a while since I heard this story, but I’m glad you enjoyed it. I quite enjoyed this adventure of the Fourth Doctor and Leela visiting the Land of Fiction and meeting the Crooked Man. I don’t know why Louise Jameson isn’t in the behind-the-scenes photos either. Maybe she and Tom recorded on different days for the story. I’m not sure.
Maybe Sarah Smart will do some Fifth Doctor audios. You never know. I haven’t had a chance to check out ‘At Home with the Braithwaites’ yet. I’m still enjoying ‘Stingray’ on Britbox and I’m looking forward to seeing perhaps ‘Captain Scarlet’ and ‘Space: 1999’ next. There’s a lot of stuff to check out and I don’t have enough time to check out everything. Also, I don’t see ‘At Home with the Braithwaites’ as a top priority despite Peter Davison being in it. Maybe I will someday. Also, when I say I think it’s not my kind of series, I’m a bit wary of shows that have an adult theme to them, especially since ‘Braithwaites’ contains strong language and scenes of sexual nature according to Britbox. It doesn’t mean I won’t check out the show. I just need to find the time to check it out.
Hope you’ll enjoy ‘Feast of Fear’. I’ve seen the 80s-styled trailer for ‘The Lost Resort and Other Stories’. It’s got good music in it. 😀
Thanks for your comments.
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