The Doctor (Peter Davison) encounters the entity known as the Malus on this two-parter that was written by Eric Pringle and that aired from 19 to 20 January, 1984.
The Doctor, Teagan (Janet Fielding) and Turlough (Mark Strickson) arrive in Little Hodcombe, where a reenactment of an English Civil War battle is rousing the Malus from its dormant state.
There is a crack in a wall, a being mistakenly perceived as the devil, two things that would appear again a little further along in the Doctor’s regenerations.
The time travelers had planned on visiting with Teagan’s grandfather, Andrew Verney (Frederick Hall), but it seems it vanished right before the latest round of reenactments took place. Teagan is understandably upset, but quickly stumbles into trouble, as Sir George (Denis Lill) the magistrate of the town, and unknowingly under the influence of the Malus, captures her and plans to use her as the doomed May queen.
Turlough gets himself captured, and the Doctor is left to pair up with a schoolteacher, Jane Hampden (Polly James) and a man out of time, Will (Keith Jayne) who believes he is in the year of 1643, the last time the Malus arose, and the date of the battle the re-enactment is based on.
The Malus, it seems, uses psychic energy, and is using Sir George as a focal point, manipulating the village to a bloody battle, as opposed to a reenactment, unless the Doctor can stop it.
As enjoyable as the longer stories can be, they can also be a little top heavy in unnecessary moments, and characters, I find that, for the most part, these two-parters tend to be tighter stories, and race along rather nicely.
I would be remiss though, if I didn’t complain, once again, about Teagan. I just don’t get her. Sure, the first time around she found herself on the TARDIS and travelling time and space by accident, but then she chose to come back, but all she seems to do is complain. Where’s the sense of wonder about all the things she gets to see?
I just don’t understand her as a character I guess.
As the story plays out, the Doctor traps the Malus, containing it’s psychic influence, mostly, but not before having a final confrontation with Sir George. Through the course of the story, we learn that the Malus was a spearhead for an invasion force that never arrived… perhaps there’s a story thread there that will be picked up at some point?
By story’s end, the TARDIS is full, and everyone demands that the Doctor stay for a while, and perhaps enjoy a spot of tea. Something he admits he rather enjoys, and apparently so does Turlough…
And though it only looked like a tiny flashlight, there’s a hint that the sonic screwdriver may have made an appearance…
Next time the Time Lord and his Companions travel to Frontios.