Wizards vs Aliens: 305-306 “The Daughters of Stone” Review
Reviewed by Patrick Kavanagh-Sproull.
At the end of The Quantum Effect I started to have my doubts about Wizards vs. Aliens. The core dynamic was always of Tom and Benny, and removing Benny seemed like a dangerous move albeit one the production team could do nothing to prevent. The Daughters of Stone managed to quash any misgivings about the show not surviving without Benny despite not filling the hole Percelle Ascott has left in the show, and nicely distracted the viewer with some excellent character development and superb action sequences.
I think that I was partly fearful of Wizards vs. Aliens’ future because the preview trailer for this week showed Katie serving as the deuteragonist. Katie filled the role serviceably but she was a stopgap until the next secondary character is introduced (my guess is late in this series or in series four should it come to fruition and judging by what series three has produced, it ought to!). Manpreet Bambra was rather excellent as Katie but her relationship with Tom was drowned out in the second part as storyline after storyline struggled for air.
The Daughters of Stone was really quite terrific but the second half was unfortunately cluttered. Old Behesta was stifled by the introduction of Simeon, Tom’s reckless grandfather, and then there was the potential demise of Ursula before Katie’s memory erasure. A lot more happened in The Daughters of Stone than I expected but while it might have gotten a little packed, it was still a thrilling ride.
Investigating Katie’s grandfather’s allegedly haunted theatre, Tom and Katie discover that the sinister Old Behesta, a very real witch is stalking the premises in the hopes of finding her daughters who have been entombed in stone. Tom enlists his gran and dad and the quartet set about trying to stop the wicked hag from reacquainting with her equally venomous offspring.
Phil Ford’s second script for this worryingly short series is another cracker, sizzling with some great lines and giving Simeon the introduction he needed. Trevor Cooper is an excellent addition to the cast, embodying the grandfather to Tom and husband to Ursula that we all imagined whenever his name was raised. Adjoa Andoh, too, was great as Old Behesta, oozing boo-hiss wickedness out of every pore. I don’t even need to comment on the regulars because they’re always excellent but Annette Badland, Scott Haran and Manpreet Bambra truly shone in the last half of part two.
Was that really Alex Childs de-Nekross’d (that’s a term now)? Gwendoline Christie was easily identifiable because of her role in Game of Thrones and Jefferson Hall looked quite similar (sans, you know, the pineapple complexion) but Alex Childs was totally different therefore I didn’t guess the Laura Piper twist. Since the journalist didn’t actually do much in the end, I knew she was up to something but I didn’t expect her to be Lady Lyzera (initially, I thought she might be one of Old Behesta’s daughters). Crafty Mrs Varg’s plans have been advancing week by week and now she has a vial of wizard DNA in her possession, I fear those plans might start to reach a climax – we only have two more weeks, after all.
Wizards vs. Aliens is the kids’ show that keeps on giving. It impresses each time with strong performances, storylines and a lot of heart. The Daughters of Stone is no exception and another delight from the mind of Phil Ford, delivering a spooky, atmospheric ghost story as well as introducing a great, new character. Oh, and did I mention the ventriloquist’s dummy? That would put the combined likes of Annabelle and Chucky to shame.