A good spot of Victorian melodrama for this second part of Paul Magrs’ latest opus for the fourth Doctor. Terence Hardiman gets his teeth into his role as a country priest who is only barely managing to keep in control of his own life, let alone keeping a weather eye on his “ward” – a young boy who has to wear a mask all the time, in case his disgusting real face frightens everyone in the village.
Again, this is more of a full-cast play, with some occasional necessary monologues from the young boy (whose real origins aren’t really difficult to guess, particularly when Mrs Wibbsey recognises his tutor), and at an hour, is slightly shorter than most of the instalments in any of these serials. In fact, it could probably have been trimmed even further: like some of the recent Torchwood series, the plot has to get from point A to point B by the end of the episode, and there does feel like there’s some padding so that we don’t get there in 35 minutes or so!
It’s still a major improvement on the pacing and characterisation of the first serial, Hornet’s Nest, and it’s good to see that Mrs Wibbsey has grown in confidence to reflect her experiences with the Doctor. Tom Baker has reined in his whimsical interpretation and this does sound far more like a Missing Adventure than a re-invention of the era.
Verdict: In an omnibus edition, you’d probably only need half of the running time to get the plot points across, but it’s still entertaining. 6/10