Time for another Doctor Who supercut. This one is "The Curse of Fenric" from 1989, the 7th Doctor's (Sylvester McCoy) third and final season, and the old show's final season before it was unceremoniously canceled by the BBC.
Ian Briggs Might be the Best Writer Doctor Who Ever had!
Ian Briggs' script is perhaps the most inventive, multilayered, subversive, and complex in the show's history. He created Ace (Sophie Aldred) after all back in "Dragonfire" two seasons before. Here we get World War II, a warmongering army officer who wants to unleash a weapon of mass destruction, heroic Soviet soldiers, vampires, and an ancient, practically Lovecraftian evil entity, Fenric, who has been battling the Doctor since the dawn of time and has been manipulating history and bloodlines for billions of years. It's possibly the most epic villain and storyline the show ever had.
Briggs also introduces some fascinating Science Fiction concepts that should be ripped off but hardly were: calling vampires "haemovores" and that it's not the crucifix that holds them at bay but the mental energy of faith, as demonstrated by a Soviet soldier using his Red Star as a totem of his faith in Communism to drive them back.
The late Nicholas Parsons, normally the comedy game show host of BBC Radio 4's Just a Minute for decades, turns in his first dramatic role since his career began. He plays a nuanced, tragic character as Reverend Wainwright, a priest who has lost his faith but never his gentleness or his compassion. His own guilt and self-doubt lead to his death, which feels genuinely poignant, a man who died doing good but felt himself not good or worthy enough.
Damn, why hasn't Ian Briggs been invited back to write more episodes, including now?!
Alas, Poor Ace
Ace gets put through the wringer in this story: manipulated by The Doctor, manipulated by Fenric since the dawn of time, betrayed by the Doctor because he had to break her faith in him in order to defeat Fenric, her rage and guilt at discovering the baby she loves and saves will grow up to become the mother she came to hate. The story also addresses Ace's sexuality -any companion's sexuality for the first time – her attraction to soldiers and potentially violent men in uniform. These are the most complex series of emotions any companion ever had to go through and it made Ace one of the best and most modern companions. She sets the template for the companions in show's return in the 21st Century but none of the modern companions to this day match Ace's layers.
The supercut ends abruptly and cuts off the epilogue where Ace calls out the Doctor for psychologically abusing her. It's really here to promote the Season 26 Blu-Ray and DVD box set, so you'd have to stream the show or buy the box set to experience the whole story.