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A chilling new nemesis in search of a firmware upgrade terrorises a literary coterie at the absolute zenith of its creativity

Doc and the fam have reached the ‘let’s dress up and meet some famous authors’ stage of deliberately avoiding dealing with your mysterious backstory, and with Shakespeare’s labours lost to a previous series, it’s the turn of Mary Shelley and Frankenstein to waste some time. So our needlessly many heroes rock up at Lake Geneva in 1816, the year without a summer, but to their chagrin it seems our literary squadron are equally intent on dancing around the subject.

Doc is fearful Mary may not be inspired to begin her novel on this dark and stormy night—but relax, Doc, things are about to get modern prometheus AF. No one knows where Percy Bysshe lurketh, Byron has designs on being a total cad with Mrs. Doctor, and the house has a habit of transmogrifying into a labyrinthine nightmare, and to cap it all it appears a traveller from across time and space has set his sights on making this soiree at the Villa Diodati a night to remember.

Here's what we think of N163 The Haunting Of Villa Diodati

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken

4.3

Drew | @drewbackwhen

4.2

Here's what we think of N163 The Haunting Of Villa Diodati

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken

4.3

Drew | @drewbackwhen

4.2

Here's what you think 3 Responses to “N163 The Haunting Of Villa Diodati”
  1. Kieren Evans | @kjevans2

    Hi folks

    ‘There’s nothing to be afraid of’

    Well…

    So Big Finish have already done a story where the Doctor meets Mary Shelley and inspires Frankenstein, and another one where they met Cybermen in late 19th century Vienna (Shelley is from 1816 of course). Not saying they took the idea from BF. Of all the Doctor Who villains, the Cybermen are the most like Frankenstein’s monster. And we should talk about our Lone Cyberman. An emotional cyberman is somewhat of an oxymoron, but it works here. Deranged, half complete, relentlessly searching for the key to the future. He’s quite effective as a villain though I suppose we will get more of him next time. Fairly brutal dispatching the valet and maid, which I suppose fits with the horror theme of this one, probably should have been a Halloween episode and not *checks notes* 16th February 2020. Sigh, it’s been a long 3 years…

    Anyway, Creepy ghost house is fairly well done. The valet is quite funny with his eyerolling at Bryon and co. And the spatial maze is done well.

    Lord Bryon as an arsehole, yeah I think that’s fairly accurate to be fair. And god, that other guy looks a lot like Ed Miliband. Like, a lot. I can’t unsee it.

    The 12th Doctor once said ‘Sometimes the only choices you have are bad ones, but you still have to choose’ which describes the ending to this one. Good atmosphere, creepy villain but for some reason I didn’t quite fully engage with it so 3.7/5 T-1000 worm

    Cheers

    Kieren

  2. Michael Ridgway | @bad_movie_club

    Likes:
    – The stormy, eerie claustrophobia. This story oozes with dread. Akin to the gothic horror of 1970s ‘Who.
    – A genuinely scary and threatening cyber-villain – who actually wins! Bleak stuff. Ashad is mean-ass. Loved the
    Frankenstein’s monster homage. Take that, so-called Nightmare in Silver!
    – A cheeky moral conundrum bringing out the Doctor’s dictatorial qualities.
    – A bunch of ghosties from The Others thrown in for the hell of it.

    Beefs:
    – What was the Cyberium’s motivation? Why did it bugger off in the first place?
    – Maybe the writers should have had Mary Shelly make more of a breakthrough when appealing to Ashad’s remaining humanity, rather than him being an out-and-out baddy. After all, Frankenstein’s monster was misunderstood and pretty nice to a bunch of people, like the blind guy and that kid (who it then drowned – but that was an accident!).

    Rating: 4.3/5 servant vacancies at Villa Diodati for immediate start. Duties may include being hurled across the room breaking every bone in your body and / or hiding in box until a monster finds you and snaps your neck like a chicken. Benefits include three meals a day and funeral costs.

  3. Ben O'Neill

    Hi Who Back When Fam!
    Before listening to your review, I was thinking it was near perfect, but that you would tear it to shreds mercilessly. Instead you sang it’s praises, but still gave it scores in the low 4s. Maybe it’s because the companions didn’t have much to do, but I have come to expect that in this era, so I take it as read.
    The first thing that struck me about this episode was how closely it mirrors the beginning of The Bride of Frankenstein, except that there were more people in the house when they chose to tell ghost stories.
    The first time I saw the skeletal hand crawling, I immediately thought of Cybermats, but that was just a red herring.
    I loved the atmosphere, costumes, and entire production values of this episode; they really outdid themselves.
    I am also thrilled that we now have Ashad, who is to the Cybermen what Davros is for the Daleks, a face with a name. Although that’s sort of counter to the horror of the cybermen, who are meant to be uniformly faceless and inhuman. But at least now we have a new recurring villain.
    I struggle to find anything wrong with this one (other than the things you pointed out), so I give this 4.8 out of 5.

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