Doctor Who Reactions: "Horror of Fang Rock" (SPOILERS)

1)This is the story Terrance Dicks wrote when the BBC wouldn't let him use the story that later saw daylight as "State of Decay", becasue at the time they were doing a version of Dracula with Louis Jourdan, and were afraid people would think Doctor Who was mocking them.  Dicks has also said, more or less humorously, that making him write a story set on a lighthouse was Bob Holmes' revenge for Dicks making him write a story set in the Middle Ages ("TheTime Warrior") when Dicks was story editor.

 

2)Louise Jameson does really well as Leela in this, we see how her skills as a huntress are an asset to the Doctor.  Another thing I liked was Leela's initial glee at operating the fog horn, followed rapidly by boredom, showing her to be like a big kid, in some ways. Her reaction to Adelaide the Faint-Hearted Victorian was fun, too, the way she slapped her and later rolled her eyes when Adelaide fainted. She also does a good job of appearing unaware of how to use a shovel. And I nice little bit at the end where she stops to pick up her knife.

"Your eyes have changed color." I gather they'd been making her wear contact lenses up to this point, and they were hurting her eyes.

 

Some fun Leela quotes:

  • "I'm not a teshnician."  A nice callback to her first story.
  • "You should talk often with the old ones of your tribe. That is the only way to learn."  Assuming, of course, that the old ones of your tribe know anything.
  • "Silence! You will do as the Doctor instructs, or I will cut out your heart!"
  • "Come out, old one!"
  • "I too used to believe in magic, but the Doctor has taught me about science.  It is better to believe in science."
  • "Has she never seen death before?"
  • "You will easily dispose of this primitive creature, Doctor. You are a Time Lord."  I love how she grins at him behind his back, showing that for once she's sending him up.  Also perhaps a little of Louise Jameson sending Tom Baker up a bit in there, as well.
  • "Where shall we look for this mognal sigulator?"
  • "Are you suggesting tha tI convert the carbon arc beam?"  "Well, obviously."  I love that bit!
  • "Enjoy your death as I enjoyed killing you."  I bet Andred went through his reamining regenerations real fast.
  • "Slay me now. It is the fat eof the old and crippled."

 

3)In its natural form, the Rutan looks a bit like a big snotball.  Dicks has said that he decided that since the Sontarans were so squat and solid and rigid, he decided to make thier Rutan enemies more flexible and amorphous.

 

4)Colin Douglas does an excellent job as Reuben, the oldest of the lighthouse crew.  He does an especially good "deranged grin" when he's playing "Reuben the Rutan".

 

5)John Abbott does OK as Vince, the youngest of the lighthouse crew, coming across as amiable and naive. He conveys the character's bemusement at Leela's behavior well.

 

6)Tony Orlando Ralph Watson is OK as Ben, rounding out the lighthouse crew - he's not really init long enough to get much to do.

 

7)"We got lost in the fog."  It seems odd that the TARDIS would be affected by the fog.  Probably just the Doctor covering up for his lousy navigating, again. It also neve rseems to occur to him that, rather than let everyone sit around in the lighthouse wating to get zapped, he could bundle them all into the TARDIS.

 

8)On the commentary track, Dicks himself says that the characters from the yacht don't add much to the story - essentially they exist in order to be killed by the Rutan.  that said, Alan Rowe, Sean Caffrey, Annette Woollett and Rio Fanning do OK as Skinsale, Palmerdale, Adelaide and Harker, making the best of what are fairly one-dimensional characters. Alan Rowe does particularly well.

 

9)I never noticed before the scene where the Doctor discovers Reuben's stash of naughty postcards.

 

10)More Fun Quotes:

  • "They always said that the Beast of Fang Rock would be back."  I suppose it's a bit of a stretch that the Rutan would just happen to land near a lighthouse that had a legend attached to it, but then I suppose that most lighthouses do.
  • "Are you in charge here?" "No, but I'm full of ideas."  Full of something, anyway...
  • "They're almost as primitive and supersition-ridden as your lot are."
  • "Gentlemen, I've got news for you - this lighthouse is under attack and by morning we might all be dead. Anyone interested?"   I like how gleeful he is saying this.
  • "The Malicious Damage Act 1861 covers lighthouses."
  • "The chameleon factor, sometimes called lycanthropy."  Wait, what?
  • "You're at last losing that interminable war with the Sontarans."

 

11)Cliffhangers:

  • Part One: A toy ship hits the rocks!
  • Part Two: Reuben screams!
  • Part Three:  The Doctor realizes that he's locked the enemy in with them rather than out!  Idiot.
  • Part Four: The Doctor recites part of The Ballad of Flannan Isle, by Wilfrid GIbson...

 

Overall:

Quite a good story, this, and one that serves the character of Leela quite well.

 

[Part of list of Doctor Who episodes here.]

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It's been a long time since I watched a Leela story.  Between your reviews and About Time (which are oddly in synch for me right now), I'm getting a lot of nudging in that direction.

I've been meaning to try to get Action Lad some Who exposure.  He watched "The Eleventh Hour" with me a while back.  I think he was more interested in the Giant Eyeball Alien than he was in the Doctor.  Which is understandable -- cool monsters are inherently more interesting to 7-year-old boys than eccentric-but-human-looking time travellers.

But Tom Baker?  He might have a little more appeal.  I think "The Deadly Asassin" was my own first Who story, so revisiting the Leela era might not be a bad place to start.  Giant rats and slimy blob monsters and robot dogs are pretty cool.

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