Writer: Paul Magrs
Director: Gary Russell
Producers: Gary Russell and Jason Haigh-Ellery
Companion: Charley Pollard (India Fisher)
Running Time: 1 hour 51 minutes
Summary: The Doctor and Charley land in the final days of Venice in the distant future.
The Duke Orsino has spent a century mourning the loss of his love, Estella. Estella cursed him to live a century after betting his life against her in a card game. She extended her curse to include the whole city of Venice, which will crumble around him when he dies.
Charley befriends a gondolier who hypnotizes her into taking Estella’s place. Pietro is actually a part of a race of gilled aliens who’ve organized a cult around Estella’s memory. Can the Doctor save Venice, or is it truly cursed?
Review: I’ve read that the Eighth Doctor’s range had a pretty tragic air to it, making it one of the Doctor’s darkest regenerations. (This may explain his demeanor in “The Night of the Doctor”) This story seems like an indication of the tragedy that will come later.
Michael Sheard is great as the Duke Orsino. You can hear how distraught his sadness and despair has left him. I also like that the story has both a fantastic and a scientific feel to it, making you wonder if there actually is a curse, or another explanation. It’s the kind of approach that could only work in Doctor Who.
I’m slowly beginning to see why the Eighth Doctor has so many fans, especially those who like Charley.
Overall Review: 9/10
Continuity: The Fourth Doctor and Romana rode a gondola in “Sharda”, the Fourth Doctor story that never aired. (although footage from it was used in “The Five Doctors”.
Trivia: Michael Sheard has played four roles in four episodes of Doctor Who, most notable as Dr. Summer in the Third Doctor episode “The Mind of Evil”