Written by Stephen Mark Rainey, directed by Joe Salvatore
In which Dr. Gretchen Warwick (Wallace), eminent Egyptologist and friend of Professor Stokes, arrives at Collinwood with a shocking proposal for Carolyn Stoddard (Barrett) – assist her with an ancient ritual, and Gretchen can bring both of their late husbands back to life…
During the Leviathan storyline, Carolyn definitely got put through the wringer – briefly meeting her father before his sudden murder, then falling in love, getting married and widowed in quick succession – but the show’s sprinting through timelines meant that viewers never really saw the consequences these things had on her. Curse of the Pharaoh goes some way in rectifying this.
A bit older and definitely wiser, Carolyn still mourns her losses, and at one point visits the Blue Whale with a mixture of nostalgia and regret at the wild nights she used to spend there.
Marie Wallace’s Gretchen Warwick is a first for the Big Finish Dark Shadows audio line – a wholly original character played by a veteran castmember. Headstrong and supremely confident, she reminds Carolyn of Dr. Hoffman in many ways – especially her tendency to snap first and apologise later. Despite these traits, Wallace lets the essential sympathy of Warwick’s situation be glimpsed occasionally, and it’s this that leads Carolyn to her fateful decision.
Since the Leviathans were more of an off-screen menace – never seen in their true forms onscreen – Curse of the Pharaoh makes good but sparing use of them: a patch of foul slime here, a crimson-robed, faceless entity there, and their insidious influence on some aspects of ancient Egyptian culture, go a long way in establishing them as powerful, primordial menaces. Additionally, aficionados of H.P. Lovecraft will doubtless appreciate the unobtrusive references to his works and characters throughout the narrative.
VERDICT: Another strong entry in the series, Curse of the Pharaoh benefits from assured performances and a solid script which organically explores the impact that the Leviathans and their agents had upon the characters. 9/10
John S. Hall