Oh Wizards vs Aliens, you arch manipulators of emotion.
I can honestly say, when I set about to watch ‘The Daughters of Stone’, I did not expect to find myself uttering the above sentiment, but here we are. What drives this adventure of witches and deceptions and haunting are a series of overlapping stories about family.
But first, the scary: granted, any instance of ventriloquist puppet horror is enough to render me a blubbering mess. Those things are terrifying. But beyond that, the haunting scenes felt straight out of a good classic ghost story, and Lee Haven Jones’ direction was bang-on creepy. Adjoa Andoh (Martha’s mum from Doctor Who) is joyous as Old Bethesta, her performance brimming over with such mad, cackling enthusiasm in classic witchy tradition. You can just tell she was having fun with it.
As for family, it’s Katie’s grandfather’s encounter with the witches haunting his beloved theatre that alerts our heroes to danger, and Old Bethesta herself is a mother hell-bent on the return of her lost daughters. Ursula’s estranged husband – Tom’s grandfather – reappears following a 30-year absence in the Neverside, and it’s indeed lucky he was there to save her life just in the nick of time: I honestly thought that was the end of Ursula. After all, following Benny’s departure last week, it sure feels like anything’s possible.
I can already hear the cries of legions of fans who genuinely thought this story would see Katie take on the unenchanted best friend role on an ongoing basis, but writer Phil Ford has thrown us a curveball by showing us the possibility of a continuing story where Katie becomes involved in the magical world – using her own unique set of skills and strengths to help fight against the dark forces that menace the planet – and immediately snatches it away.
Honestly, Tom – how’s the conversation going to go when you let your magic skills slip around Katie again, and have to admit she’s already had her memories purged of it once? Awkward. Katie already shows here that she has her own contribution to bring to the team: she may not be as scientifically gifted as Benny was, but she makes up for it with enthusiasm.
I suppose it would perhaps have been too easy and too predictable just to have another friend step seamlessly into Benny’s shoes right after his departure, and there’s something to be said for seeing how knowledge of the magical world could conceivably be a pretty overwhelming paradigm shift for anyone to adjust to, especially when one’s love interest stands at the epicentre of it all.
Still, what we have here is something a bit tragic, seeing not only memories wiped, but the potential growth that might have come with being privy to the often dangerous, always fun world of magic.
Aired at 5pm on Monday 10 November 2014 and 5pm on Tuesday 11 November 2014 on CBBC.
What did you think of the story? Let us know below…