Tom Baker as Doctor Who

Tom Baker as Doctor Who

Sunday, 15 October 2017

460 The Invisible Enemy: Part Three

EPISODE: The Invisible Enemy: Part Three
OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 460
STORY NUMBER: 093
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 15 October 1977
WRITER: Bob Baker & Dave Martin
DIRECTOR: Derrick Goodwin
SCRIPT EDITOR: Robert Holmes
PRODUCER: Graham Williams
RATINGS: 7.5 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who: K9 Tales Box Set (Invisible Enemy/K9 and Company)

"I am the virus of the Nucleus of the Swarm!"

The cloned Doctor & Leela make for the Doctor's brain. K-9 is controlled by the virus and stuns Leela, allowing Lowe & his virus controlled medics enter the ward and take control of Marius. Marius clones Lowe, shrinks the clone and injects him into the Doctor too where he pursues the Doctor & Leela. The Doctor confronts the virus nucleus in the Doctor's brain, while Leela protects them from the pursuing Lowe clone which is consumed by antibodies. As the clones expire the Nucleus escapes through the Doctor's tear duct and is increased to human size by Marius.

3y 3z

I can see the conversation now: Robert Holmes says to Bob Baker & Dave Martin "Let's do a homage to Fantastic Voyage!" which is what we get here.

The reason for the clones becomes obvious here in order to have the Doctor wandering round his own body. Why not get someone else infected so the real Doctor could be shrunk down and injected into someone else's body?

3a 3b

In many ways it's similar to Deadly Assassin 3: while the Doctor himself is lying prone take a duplicate of the Doctor, stick him in an unusual environment and throw some threats at him. Unfortunately what they're trying to do needs a few more pounds thrown at it: some not too brilliant sets and far too much dodgy CSO.

3c 3d

The results here didn't put them off too much so CSO providing the scenery will make a return later in the series and they don't do quite as well then!

Nowadays the technique of CSOing sets in is quite commonly used so in many ways his and Underworld are somewhat ahead of their time!

While we're on the subject of dodgy CSO.... Look at how the picture of Lowe on the screen shifts as the camera position for the main set adjust slightly!

3e 3f

We will turn our attention and both barrels on the Nucleus next episode!

When this story was released on DVD there was a disc fault at the end of this episode, which necessitated a recall & replacement. Anyone who had to return their copy to 2 Entertain was compensated with a free copy of The Hand of Fear on DVD.

Due to the problems with the previously broadcast story, The Horror of Fang Rock, this story was made first, although it was broadcast second. Following Fang Rock the fourth story, The Sunmakers, was recorded and then the third, The Image of the Fendahl, with the final two stories , Underworld & Invasion of Time, being made in the order they were broadcast.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

459 The Invisible Enemy: Part Two

EPISODE: The Invisible Enemy: Part Two
OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 459
STORY NUMBER: 093
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 08 October 1977
WRITER: Bob Baker & Dave Martin
DIRECTOR: Derrick Goodwin
SCRIPT EDITOR: Robert Holmes
PRODUCER: Graham Williams
RATINGS: 7.3 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who: K9 Tales Box Set (Invisible Enemy/K9 and Company)

"Affirmative, master!"

The Virus orders the Doctor to attack Leela but after wildly firing the gun he collapses, with a strange hairy growth on his hands. He puts himself into a trance to preserve his strength. Lowe, concealing the growth round his eyes with a visor, helps Leela take the Doctor to the Tardis and they journey to the Bi-Al foundation in the asteroid belt to seek help for the Doctor. He is taken to their isolation ward for treatment while Lowe is sent to the eye section. Professor Marius examines the Doctor assisted by his robot dog/computer K-9, who detects the Doctor's alien origins and the virus infection.

2 K9 a 2 K9 b

The Doctor awakes while being examined and deduces how he was infected in the Tardis. Lowe infects the staff treating him. Leela seeks the Doctor but is prevented from seeing him by K-9, until Marius arrives. He wishes to have Leela scanned to discover why she is immune. Lowe and his infected medics approach where the Doctor is being treated. A second shuttle is infected by the organism and crashed into the Bi-Al space station isolating the level the Doctor is on. Lowe's team find a way round through a service shaft. Leela attacks the approaching infected medics. The Doctor has Marius clone himself and Leela. K-9 takes over the defence of the ward. Lowe issues Marius with an ultimatum and gives him 2 minutes to surrender. The Doctor clone fetches some equipment from the Tardis which he uses to shrink both himself and the Leela clone which are injected into the real Doctor as Lowe tells Marius that his time is up.

2y 2z

Things move on quite a bit in this episode with the Doctor regaining some control of himself:

DOCTOR: Leela, I can't stop it. Got to fight it. Got to fight it.
LEELA: Doctor, what's wrong? Doctor, what was all that?
DOCTOR: I'm fighting for my mind. Whatever it was that attacked Safran and the others is also affecting me.
LEELA: Why not me?
DOCTOR: Perhaps because. Oh! I can feel it gathering strength to attack again.
LEELA: The evil one?
DOCTOR: Some kind of organism that attacks the mind, the intelligence. It's trying to take me over, Leela. It's trying to change me.
LEELA: No, Doctor, please.
DOCTOR: I need help. I must withdraw into myself, save strength.
LEELA: Why not me?
Excellent question from Leela there that will get returned to later.
LEELA: Come with me. The Doctor's ill, very ill. He told me to get help.
LOWE: But there are no facilities here.
LEELA: Well, where, then?
LOWE: The nearest place is the Centre for Alien Biomorphology. But that's in the asteroid belt.
LEELA: We'll take the Tardis. Doctor, we're taking you somewhere to get help, but we need the Tardis. Now, where are we going?
LOWE: The Bi-Al Foundation, asteroid K four zero six seven.
LEELA: What are the coordinates? Doctor, what are the coordinates?
DOCTOR: Vector one nine, quadrant three. Seven four three.
LEELA: Seven four three.
DOCTOR: Eight zero zero.
Want to tell me how, even armed with the co-ordinates, Leela managed to fly the Tardis to the Bi-Al foundation? No I don't know either, and that's the distinct impression I got from the episode watching it!

2 K9 e 2 K9 f

This episode is most famous for is the introduction of K-9, Professor Marius' mobile dog shaped computer. He's often presented as Doctor Who's answer to R2-D2 in Star Wars, but at the time of the story's writing Star Wars was still a few months in the future and at the point of broadcast (8th October 1977) had yet to be released in the UK (27th December 1977). The mechanical prop became the bane of the show's existence but it's voice artist, actor John Leeson (who also voices the Virus Nucleus) was a big hit crawling around on the floor in rehearsals in place of the prop. Up until Doctor Who his best known role was as Bungle in Rainbow but while in Doctor Who would also voice Jigg in Jigsaw, a children's series created by former Doctor Who vision mixer Clive Doig, alongside presenter Janet Ellis (Horns of the Nimon) and O-Man Sylvester McCoy (The Seventh Doctor).

LEELA: Doctor!
K9: Negative, negative, negative. No entry. No entry.
LEELA: Look, whatever you are, I
K9: I am K9 and I am warning you.
LEELA: Look, I came to see the Doctor. I arrived with him.
(She points her gun at K9.)
K9: I too have offensive capability. You have been warned. Retreat. Retreat. Patient in total isolation. Contagion risk. Retreat. Retreat.
(Marius enters and pushes Leela's gun down.)
MARIUS: Who are you?
LEELA: I am Leela.
MARIUS: Ah, yes, of course. The Doctor's aide.
LEELA: I think so.
MARIUS: K9, memorise. Friend.
K9: Memorised. Friend.
LEELA: Is that tin thing something to do with you?
MARIUS: That tin thing is my best friend and constant companion. He's a computer. You see, on Earth, I always used to have a dog. But up here, the weight penalty, well, it's just not possible. So I had K9 made up. He's very useful. He's my own personal data bank. He knows everything that I do, don't you, K9?
K9: Affirmative, and more, master.
MARIUS: I'm afraid there's not much I can tell you about the Doctor, yet. You know, I should like to have you scanned and datalysed, just to see why you're immune. You see, if we can isolate that factor, we can inoculate against it. You get it?
2 K9 c 2 K9 d

We're still a year (in program time) away from the point where I started watching the show, but this episode represents the first piece of Doctor Who I saw from before I started watching it. In 1980ish a section from this episode, the piece where Leela meets K-9, was played on a Saturday morning TV program. It was almost certainly Noel Edmonds' Multi-Coloured Swap Shop and I suspect was in connection with the BBC announcing plans to write K-9 out of the series which was met with much protest in the media.

K-9 creator Professor Marius is played by Frederick Jaeger who was Jano in The Savages and Sorenson in Planet of Evil. Outside of Doctor Who he was in Out of the Unknown playing Leebig in the missing third season story The Naked Sun and in Doomwatch as Richard Massingham in Waiting for a Knighthood, one of the few existing third season stories that you can see as part of The Doomwatch DVD set. He's also been in The Sweeney as Goldman in Trojan Bus and The Professionals as Schuman in Fall Girl. His performance here is a somewhat stereotypical mad scientist and owes some debt to Professor Heinz Wolff who was making a name for himself on television when this program aired, later going on to present The Great Egg Race.

2 Marius 2 Parsons

Marius's assistant Parsons is played by Roy Herrick who was Jean in The Reign of Terror and one of the voices of Xoanon in The Face of Evil. He has also appears in in Survivors as Lewis Fearn in By Bread Alone & Parasites.

One actor & character is only seen in this episode: Kenneth Waller who plays the medic Hedges. He later plays "Old" Mr. Grace in the famed sitcom Are You Being Served? and Grandad in Bread. You can also spot him in The Professionals as the caretaker in Killer with a Long Arm. Hedges is the taller, older of the two Doctors who Lowe & the Ophthalmologist meet and infect. His younger companion, Cruikshank, who does most of the talking is played by Roderick Smith.

2 Cruikshank Hedges 2 Opthalmogist

Meanwhile the Ophthalmologist is played by Jim McManus. He'd previously been in the science fiction disaster movie The Day the Earth Caught Fire, which I really must watch, as the Man at Water Station. You can see him in The Sweeney as Ollie Parsons in Visiting Fireman & the Barman in the second Sweeney film and The Professionals as the Lorry Driver's Mate in Heroes. He's also got an appearance in future Doctor Who writer Steven Moffat's Press Gang as Station Master Dutton in Friends Like These.

There's some familiar names that IMDB has down against episode 1 who are actually Bi-Al staff: Cy Town is there somewhere: he's been a Technician in Doctor Who and the Silurians, a Medical Orderly in The Mind of Evil, an Extra in Invasion of the Dinosaurs, a Vogan in Revenge of the Cybermen and a Brother in The Masque of Mandragora as well as being a Dalek Operator in Frontier in Space, Planet of the Daleks and Genesis of the Daleks. He'll repeat that role in Destiny of the Daleks, Resurrection of the Daleks, Revelation of the Daleks and Remembrance of the Daleks as well as appearing as a Guard in The Sun Makers, a Passerby in Attack of the Cybermen, Harold V.'s Brother in The Happiness Patrol and a Haemovore in The Curse of Fenric. He was in Doomwatch playing a man in Flood and a Technician in all six episodes of Moonbase 3.

One of the other crew members, and I'm not 100% sure which, is Ken Sedd who, like episode 1's Harry Fielder, previously appeared as a Crewmember in Wheel in Space. He spends a large part of his career working with and stunt doubling for Benny Hill. but he also appears in Doomwatch as as an uncredited man in You Killed Toby Wren, Flight Into Yesterday, The Inquest, The Logicians and The Killer Dolphins plus credited as the Barman in High Mountain. Some of these episodes survive and can be found on The Doomwatch DVD.

Somewhere out there is our Pat Gorman as a Medic: I think I found him in this episode but m'learned colleagues disagreed! His Doctor Who and other credits are far too long to list

Unfortunately I don't think I've seen Nell Curran, the Reception Nurse, in anything else. Neither has Elizabeth Norman popped up in anything else I've seen but I'm told she is the wife of Director Derrick Goodwin making his only Doctor Who appearance with this story.

2 Receptionist 2 Nurse

Which brings us back to matters medical and the thorny issue of the cloning.

DOCTOR: K9. Cloning techniques. Give me a rundown, state of the art so far.
K9: Cloning. Cloning is replication, making a copy of an individual from a single cell of that individual. Clones. Clones retain characteristics of original organism.
DOCTOR: Go on, go on.
K9: Successful experiments first carried out in the year thirty nine twenty two.
DOCTOR: Thirty nine twenty two. Oh good.

DOCTOR: Hurry, K9, hurry.
K9: At present, cloning procedure is possible, but unreliable.

K9: Replicants do not maintain their existence for long because of possible unsolved psychic stress problems.
DOCTOR: How long? How long?
K9: Longest recorded clone life, ten mi
MARIUS: Ten minutes, fifty five seconds.
DOCTOR: Professor Marius, could you clone me?
MARIUS: Certainly. The Kilbracken technique is very simple. But it's a circus trick. It's of no medical value.
DOCTOR: Could you clone me now?
MARIUS: Now?
DOCTOR: Yes. Because if you don't clone me now and the virus gets to me, it'll take the whole centre with it.

DOCTOR: Hurry, Marius. Hurry.
MARIUS: Now, you must realise, Doctor, this is not in any real sense a clone, but a short-lived carbon-based imprint. A sort of three dimensional photograph.
DOCTOR: Leela. I shall need Leela.
MARIUS: Leela? Why? Why Leela?
LEELA: What does he mean, he needs me?
MARIUS: Ah, it must be because you are immune. I think he wants you cloned as well.
LEELA: But what will happen to me? The real me?
MARIUS: Nothing. Nothing at all.
LEELA: But you said it was just short-lived.
MARIUS: Oh, yes. A permanent clonal copy is theoretically possible, but it would take years to achieve because of the experiential gap. Now, you see, in this way, we manage to transfer both heredity and experience, but the transfer is unstable.
LEELA: What?
MARIUS: Well, it means that your photocopy twin will deteriorate and expire after a maximum life of ten or eleven minutes.
LEELA: Oh, well, in that case, if you do not mind, I will not stay to see.

There is a load of rubbish being spouted about clones in this episode and effectively the script does cop to it in Marius' line " Now, you must realise, Doctor, this is not in any real sense a clone, but a short-lived carbon-based imprint. A sort of three dimensional photograph." In which case why call it cloning? Star Trek's transporter accident duplicates are a far more believable way of getting what we see here. And what sort of biological technique produces a duplicate fully clothed? A piece of Tardis equipment is needed to shrink the clones, why not go the whole hog and have a piece of the Tardis produce the duplicate.
LEELA: Doctor? Which one was that?
K9: That was the Doctor two.
LEELA: Can you explain?
K9: Affirmative. The Kilbracken cloning technique replicates from the single cell as a short-lived carbon copy. Efficacy of individuation not completely guaranteed.
LEELA: Can you explain simply?
K9: Negative.
That's because it's a stupid idea that's a bad way of producing what they want in the next episode.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

458 The Invisible Enemy: Part One

EPISODE: The Invisible Enemy: Part One
OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 458
STORY NUMBER: 093
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 01 October 1977
WRITER: Bob Baker & Dave Martin
DIRECTOR: Derrick Goodwin
SCRIPT EDITOR: Robert Holmes
PRODUCER: Graham Williams
RATINGS: 8.6 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who: K9 Tales Box Set (Invisible Enemy/K9 and Company)

"Contact has been made!"

As a shuttle ferries a relief crew to the base on Titan it passes through an unidentified organism which infects the crew. Arriving on Titan they kill three of the crew. The station supervisor, Lowe, sees what is happening and sends a mayday call which the Tardis receives. The Tardis passes through the same organism with a strange glow enveloping the Doctor. He too has been infected by the virus and passes out. Leela however proves immune. The Tardis lands on Titan, bearing the Doctor who is to be the host for the virus. The Doctor recovers conciousness , but Leela is worried by his odd behaviour. Lowe confronts the relief crew, killing one of them, and is chased away. The Doctor & Leela find the body, and then the remaining two members of the relief crew who are preparing a hive for the nucleus. The Virus orders Leela destroyed and the controlled Doctor takes a blaster to kill her. Leela finds & rescues Lowe. The Doctor tries to resist the virus. Leela kills one of the relief crew but as he dies he infects Lowe.

1z 1y

As Lowe & Leela try to escape a controlled Doctor advances on Leela bearing his gun .....

The first thing I thought as I saw this was "Have I switched on an episode of Blakes' 7 by mistake?". Of course the BBC's other science fiction show was still a few months in the future when this episode first aired but the effects and sound of the episode are so similar. In particularly the revolving rocks moving towards the screen is reminding me of something Blake's 7.

1a 1b

There's also more than a little bit of Space 1999 here with the shots of the shuttle moving diagonally over the planet and landing on a pad that descends into the ground!

1c 1d

You know what's always annoyed me about the the shuttles in this story: why have they got their bay doors open? It just looks odd!

The shuttles have always reminded me of the ships in Frontier in Space, but I've checked they are different and that's beyond having a different nose on them!

But there are some reused elements here: First we have one of our old friends the UFO control panels:

1 IE UFO 1 IE Panel

Then there's this control panel that's previously been in Ark in Space and Planet of Evil and, prior to both of those, the James Bond film Live and Let Die.

The biggest thing this episode is the return to a more traditional style console room:

LEELA: We've never been in here before.
DOCTOR: You've never been in here before.
LEELA: What is it?
DOCTOR: Number two control room has been closed for redecoration. I don't like the colour.
LEELA: White isn't a colour.
DOCTOR: That's the trouble with computers. Always think in black and white. No aquamarines, no blues, no imagination.
The wood panelled console room, which made it's d├ębut in Masque of Mandragora and was in use in Leela's first few stories had warped in storage necessitating a replacement and the designer opted for the more traditional white.

1 Tardis A 1 Tardis B

It's an interesting moment for me seeing it on screen because this is the control room I was used to when I was growing up and watching Doctor Who, complete with the two part sliding cover for the large monitor screen on one wall. We're getting very close now to the point where there's episodes I saw as a child, in fact the first complete story I ever saw is just one season away. Unfortunately with the new console room comes a very dodgy motion on the time rotor which visibly wobbles from side to side!

As an episode this is competent enough and the idea of the Doctor controlled by an alien force is a good one that I don't think we've seen before. There's a lovely speech by the Doctor at the start which neatly foreshadows what's going on:

LEELA: Have we materialised?
DOCTOR: Yes.
LEELA: Where?
DOCTOR: Solar system, between Jupiter and Saturn. About five thousand AD. Five thousand AD? We're still in the time of your ancestors.
LEELA: Ancestors?
DOCTOR: Yes. That was the year of the great breakout.
LEELA: The great what?
DOCTOR: Mmm. When your forefathers went leapfrogging across the solar system on their way to the stars. Asteroid belt's probably teeming with them now. New frontiersmen, pioneers waiting to spread across the galaxy like a tidal wave. Or a disease.
LEELA: Why disease? I thought you liked humanity?
DOCTOR: Oh, I do, I do. Some of my best friends are humans. When they get together in great numbers, other lifeforms sometimes suffer.
We've seen two of the relief crew before: Brian Grellis plays Safran, the one who survives beyond this episode, and he was Sheprah in Revenge of the Cybermen and will be the Megaphone Man in Snakedance. Like Colin Douglas who was Reuben in Horror of Fang Rock, Grellis appeared in God's Wonderful Railway playing Spider in The Permanent Way Parts 1 & 2. Grellis has an appearance in Out of the Unknown to his name too, playing the Sergeant in the missing third season episode Something in the Cellar and also was in Survivors playing Les Grice in Parasites.

Silvey is played by Jay Neill who was previously a Pikeman in The Masque of Mandragora and returns as Guard Klimt in Underworld. He was a regular supporting artist on Doomwatch appearing in Project Sahara as a Man, The Battery People as Laing, By the Pricking of My Thumbs... as a Man, Flight Into Yesterday as a Young Man and Flood as a Man. All bar the last episode exist and can be seen as part of The Doomwatch DVD

1 Safran Selvey 1 Meeker

The commander of the crew, Meeker, is played by Edmund Pegge who while not being in Doctor Who before has appeared in Barry Letts & Terrance Dicks' Moonbase 3 as Macadam in Outsiders and will appear in the first episode of the David Maloney produced Day of the Triffids as Walter.

By far the most famous face in this episode is our old friend Michael Sheard, back for his fourth Doctor Who guest role as Station Supervisor Lowe. He's been in The Ark as Rhos, The Mind of Evil as Dr. Roland Summers & Pyramids of Mars as Laurence Scarman and will return in Castrovalva as Mergrave and finally, with more than a little bit of an in-joke nod to his role as teacher Mr Bronson in Grange Hill, in Remembrance of the Daleks as the Headmaster. If you don't know who from any of these then you'll have seen him as Admiral Ozzel in The Empire Strikes Back and Hitler in Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade, one of five times that he plays the Nazi dictator.

1 Lowe 1 Titan

To the right of his quickly massacred Titan Base crew I spot another old friend, Harry 'aitch Fielder. Before this story is done several of Doctor Who's other "Supporting Artists" will have put in an appearance! The chap in the middle, who speaks and thus gets a credit, is Anthony Rowlands who won't trouble us further. But the man on the left is a bit of a poser as there's nobody listed on IMDB it could be. Fortunately m'learned colleague Mr Brunt came to my assistance identifying him as Stuart Myers. There's no IMDB credit for this story for him but amusingly he seems to have been in an episode of Microbes and Men called The Invisible Enemy in 1974 as a Student! IMDB does think he was in Doctor Who and the Silurians as a Technician and Frontier in Space as a Draconian but I'm told he's been in several others: UNIT Soldier in Doctor Who and the Silurians 6, Plague Victim in Doctor Who and the Silurians 6, Technician in Doctor Who and the Silurians 7, UNIT Soldier in The Ambassadors of Death 1 & 7, Rolling Axon Glob in The Claws of Axos 2, Draconian in Frontier in Space, Photographer in Invasion of the Dinosaurs 1, Pangol Clone in The Leisure Hive 4, Foster Z in The Keeper of Traken 1-3, Cricketer in Black Orchid 1, Buccaneer Officer in Enlightenment 3-4, Citizen/Unbeliever in Planet of Fire 1-4, Resistance Fighter/Alphan in The Trial of a Time Lord 6-7 and Customer/Mercenary in Dragonfire 1, 3 He also appears in Blake's 7 Space Fall as a crewman, alongside Aitch, and was in Moonbase 3 as a Technician in Outsiders, alongside Edmund Pegge who plays Meeker here, and reappears in the same role in Castor & Pollux.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

457 Horror of Fang Rock: Part Four

EPISODE: Horror of Fang Rock: Part Four
OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 457
STORY NUMBER: 092
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 24 September 1977
WRITER: Terrance Dicks
DIRECTOR: Paddy Russell
SCRIPT EDITOR: Robert Holmes
PRODUCER: Graham Williams
RATINGS: 9.9 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - Horror of Fang Rock

"Your mockery will end with your race, Earthling, when the mighty Rutan battle fleet occupies this planet!"

"Reuben" climbs the light house and kills Vince on the lamp gallery. The Doctor finds an alien power relay which he thinks is being used as a distress beacon. He orders the survivors to assemble in the lamp room, but while collecting Skinsale & Adelaide, Leela is cornered by Reuben in the crew room. He kills Adelaide, but Leela & Skinsale escape. The Doctor gets them to scatter powder from maroons down the stairs. He confronts "Reuben" who is revealed to be a Rutan, the ancient enemy of the Sontarans. The Rutan tells him that a mothership is on the way to Earth. The Doctor ignites the powder injuring the Rutan and driving it off. They decide convert the lighthouse lamp into a laser using diamonds carried by Palmerdale. The Doctor & Skinsale go to the crew room to get the diamonds from Palmerdale's body. The Doctor takes the largest diamond and returns to the lamp room, but Skinsale is killed trying to gather up the remaining ones. Leela kills the Rutan with a distress rocket. A glowing orange sphere approaches Fang Rock which the Doctor identifies as the Rutan mothership. The Doctor destroys it with his makeshift laser, but the blast temporarily blinds Leela permanently changing her eye colour from brown to blue.

DOCTOR: Blue. 'Aye, though we hunted high and low, and hunted everywhere.'
LEELA: What?
DOCTOR: The Ballad of Flannan Isle, by Wilfred Gibson.
LEELA: Who?
DOCTOR: Wilfred Gibson. 'Aye, though we hunted high and low, and hunted everywhere, of the three men's fate we found no trace. In any time, in any place. But a door ajar and an untouched needle and an over-toppled chair.'
What a fabulous end to the story!

Let's start with Vince's death. Poor lad, he's been in terror the whole story and ends up cut down by someone he thought was he friend without ever finding out what was going on, though I suspect he wouldn't have understood it anyway!

4a 4b

But that's a lovely visual cut from "Reuben" in the lamp room to the corpse of the real Reuben hidden by the boiler and the Doctor & Leela examining it!

4c 4d

"Reuben's" next target is Adelaide who'd have escaped had she not panicked and been a little quicker on her feet. She didn't do a lot to elicit any sympathy from me in her screen time this story I'm afraid just sticking up for her crooked employer, who I'm pretty convinced she was having a thing with, screaming and fainting! Thankfully it's a much better story and episode for the other woman in the cast!

Nice effect when Adelaide dies though and another great one shortly after as Leela attempts to kill "Reuben" with a knife.

4e 4f

The effects work has been pretty good this story as too has the lighting, kept low which creates a decent atmosphere. Several later day Doctor Who lighting directors could have done with watching this story!

We get one more summing up of "what the alien can do", which explains some of the behaviour we've seen, before the big reveal.

LEELA: This alien must have great power to change its shape at will.
DOCTOR: It has. But it needed to study the human life pattern first.
LEELA: That is why it took the engineer.
DOCTOR: Organic restructuring is elementary physiology for Time Lords.
LEELA: Then there is nothing we can do.
DOCTOR: What?
LEELA: Well, if this creature is a Time Lord
DOCTOR: No, not a Time Lord. Elementary physiology for us is something that lesser species might master after a few thousand centuries.
LEELA: Oh. Then we have nothing to worry about.
DOCTOR: We don't?
LEELA: No. You will easily dispose of this primitive creature, Doctor. You are a Time Lord.
DOCTOR: Yes, but it took Reuben's form for a reason.
LEELA: To kill us stealthily, one by one. Doctor!
DOCTOR: What is it?
LEELA: Suppose we pretend that we still think Reuben is Reuben, and not the alien, then we can get close enough to it and kill it.
DOCTOR: No, no, no, no. We can't. If we got within touching distance of it, we're dead. It packs too many volts.
LEELA: What is it?
DOCTOR: It's some kind of power relay.
LEELA: Does it belong to the alien?
DOCTOR: Yes, yes. Rule one after surviving a crash landing, set up distress beacon. To do that it would have needed a power source. That's why it came here. There must be a signal modulator somewhere, transmitting. To whom? To it's own kind. Leela, get the surviving humans to the lamp room.
LEELA: To the lamp room.
DOCTOR: Yes, that's the easiest place to defend.
LEELA: Oh, but Doctor, where shall we look for this mognal sigulator?
DOCTOR: I'll do the looking. Hurry, there isn't much time.
Ah now the power relay is a nice touch, being used to reveal that the alien has been calling home for help. A nice bit of Chekov's Gun for later.

So finally The Doctor gets to confront "Reuban".

4g 4h

DOCTOR: May I help you? Having trouble, Reuben, hmm? Not easy holding a human form stable, is it.
REUBEN: No longer necessary. We can abandon this ridiculous shape.
DOCTOR: Good idea. You'll find it a lot comfier.

4i 4j

DOCTOR: Now I remember. Reuben the Rutan!
RUTAN: You know our form?
DOCTOR: Well, when you've seen one Rutan, you've seen them all.
RUTAN: We are a Rutan scout. We are specially trained in the new metamorphosis techniques.
DOCTOR: Well, I expect you'll get better at it in time. What are you doing in this part of the galaxy anyway?
RUTAN: That doesn't concern you. You are to be destroyed.
DOCTOR: Got it! You're at last losing that interminable war with the Sontarans.
RUTAN: That is a lie!
DOCTOR: Is it? You used to control the whole of the Mutter's Spiral once. Now the Sontarans have driven you to the far fringes of the galaxy.
RUTAN: The glorious Rutan army is making a series of strategic withdrawals to selected strong points.
DOCTOR: Rutan, that's the empty rhetoric of a defeated dictator, and I don't like your face, either.
RUTAN: Your mockery will end with your race, Earthling, when the mighty Rutan battle fleet occupies this planet.
DOCTOR: Why invade an obscure planet like Earth? It's of no value to you.
RUTAN: The planet is obscure, but its strategic position is sound. We shall use it as a launch point for our final assault on the Sontaran rabble.
DOCTOR: But if you set up a power base here, the Sontarans will bombard it with photonic missiles.
RUTAN: That is unimportant. It will serve the cause of our final glorious victory.
DOCTOR: And what about its people?
RUTAN: Primitive bipeds of no value. We scouted all the planets of this solar system. Only this one suits our purpose.
DOCTOR: I can understand your military purposes, but why murder a hatful of harmless humans?
RUTAN: It is necessary. Til we return to our mother ship, and the mother ship informs the fleet, no one must know of our visit to Earth.
DOCTOR: But you crashed, didn't you, just as you made your discovery. You failed.
RUTAN: Failed? We are sending a signal to the mother ship with the power from the primitive mechanism below.
DOCTOR: You're not, you know.
RUTAN: It's of no importance. The ship will home in on the primary signal.
DOCTOR: I'm sorry to disappoint you. I fixed that as well, oyster face.
RUTAN: All your interference is useless. The beam was transmitting long enough for the mother ship to trace the signal.
DOCTOR: You can't be certain.
RUTAN: It will come.
DOCTOR: But by then, you'll be dead.
RUTAN: What could you Earthlings possibly do to us?
DOCTOR: Well, if you'll just step this way, I'll show you.

Huzzah it's a Rutan! We've heard about the Rutans in the previous two Sontaran stories (The Time Warrior & Sontaran Experiment) so it's nice to see them on screen at last. The Doctor intimates here he's met them previously but we've not seen them, just their long time foes.

Like I said, the power relay, and that it's being used to transmit a signal serve a purpose flagging up that more of them are coming which creates an additional problem for the Doctor:

DOCTOR: Of course, it's not just this Rutan I'm worried about, it's the others.
SKINSALE: Others?
DOCTOR: Yes.
SKINSALE: You mean to say there are more of these beasts?
DOCTOR: There's a whole battle fleet out there. By the time the Rutans and the Sontarans
SKINSALE: Sontarans?
DOCTOR: Yes. By the time they've finished with it, this planet'll be like a cinder hanging in space.
SKINSALE: You mean to say that there's a whole battle fleet coming here?
DOCTOR: Yes. Unless, of course, we could knock out both the mother ship and the scout ship. If we could do that, they just might conclude that this section of space was too dangerous.
LEELA: How can we do that?
DOCTOR: I don't know. We've nothing here that would stop a Rutan spaceship in its tracks. Rutan ships have a crystalline infrastructure, you see. Shielded, of course. Still, landing on a planet like this, they might just cut off the energy fields to save power. No, I'd need an amplified carbon oscillator.
LEELA: What is an am, what did you say?
DOCTOR: It's like a laser beam but much more destructive.
SKINSALE: A laser beam?
DOCTOR: Yes.
LEELA: Yes, that's some kind of very powerful light, isn't it, Doctor?
DOCTOR: Well, yes, put in it's simplest terms.
LEELA: Why don't we use this?
DOCTOR: What?
LEELA: This.
DOCTOR: That? Are you suggesting I convert the carbon arc beam?
LEELA: Well, obviously.
DOCTOR: Leela, that's a beautiful notion.
The look on Leela's face here is beautiful: from being a technologically ignorant tribesperson she's suddenly the star pupil who's gone to the top of the class!

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Small catch though:

DOCTOR: Unfortunately I'd need a focusing device, a fairly large piece of crystalline carbon.
LEELA: Crystallised carbon?
SKINSALE: A diamond.
DOCTOR: Yes.
DOCTOR: No, that's too small. I'd need a much bigger one for the primary beam oscillator.
SKINSALE: Palmerdale.
DOCTOR: What?
SKINSALE: Palmerdale. He always carried diamonds.
DOCTOR: He did?
SKINSALE: He called them his insurance.
I'm a little concerned about the diamonds: I can believe Palmerdale would carry them as insurance but it's not referred to until right at the the point it's needed. Hang the gun on the wall, use the gun later. It's almost as if Terrance Dicks has backed himself into a corner here and now needs to pull something from nowhere to perform the escape. Now if Palmerdale had tried to bribe Vince with a diamond in the previous episode, and the Doctor had found the diamond, damaged by the Rutan perhaps, on the the gallery floor giving him the idea for the laser.... It's a minor point but it's still there.

Even in the midst of the crisis the Doctor still has time for a funny line!

DOCTOR: All right. Remember, Leela, don't fire until you see the green of its tentacles.
LEELA: Doctor, how are you going to get past the Rutan?
DOCTOR: With discretion.
With the threat to his name gone with Palmerdale and Adelaide's deaths, Skinsale's military background and training kicks in against the threat and he aides the Doctor well locating the hidden diamonds on Palmerdale's corpse. However with the Doctor having got the diamond he needs he discards the ones he doesn't and it's while greedily scrabbling on the floor for the remainder that Skinsale meets his end.

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LEELA: Are you all right?
DOCTOR: You singed my scarf.
LEELA: And the Colonel?
DOCTOR: Dead with honour.
LEELA: Then at least we have avenged him.
So I don't 100% agree that Skinsale death was honourable but right up till the moment of his demise he had done much to redeem himself. We never learn what exactly advantageous piece of information he'd told Palmerdale in return for having his gambling debts ripped up!

In some ways Horror of Fang Rock could be described as formulaic Doctor Who done by the numbers: Base Under Siege, isolated location with a small group of people who are bumped off one by one. Maybe, it is but it's done so well here that you just don't care. Easily one of the best Base Under Siege stories and also the first story where every member of the guest cast dies:

Reuben - killed at the end of episode 2
Vince - episode 4
Ben - episode 1
Lord Palmerdale - episode 3
James Skinsale - episode 4
Adelaide Lessage - episode 4
Harker - end of episode 3
The only survivors are the unseen remaining members of the boat crew, the Doctor and Leela,
LEELA: It is here, Doctor. I did it! Finished!
RUTAN: Your triumph will be short, Earthling. Our mother ship will blast this island into molten rock.
LEELA: Empty threats, Rutan. Enjoy your death as I enjoyed killing you.
RUTAN: We die for the glory of our race. Long live the Rutan empire!
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Leela's gloating feels somewhat out of place but her attitude doesn't go uncorrected by The Doctor.

LEELA: They are hard to kill, these Rutans.
DOCTOR: Been celebrating, have you?
LEELA: It is fitting to celebrate the death of an enemy.
DOCTOR: Not in my opinion. I haven't got time to discuss morality.

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DOCTOR: Look out there.
LEELA: Is that the Rutan mother ship?
DOCTOR: It is. When it gets within range, this will lock onto its carbon resonator and knock out its anti-grav, I hope. We've got about a hundred and seventeen seconds to get out of here. Understand?
LEELA: Perfectly.
DOCTOR: Good. So when I switch on, you run for it, all right?
LEELA: Yes. It's getting nearer, Doctor.
DOCTOR: Come on. Whatever you do, don't look back. I said don't look back! Let's go. Now!
Unfortunately, like Lot's wife, Leela does look back and sees the improvised laser destroy the Rutan mothership.

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Fortunately she doesn't get turned into a pillar of salt and neither is her fate as bad as she initially fears:

DOCTOR: That'll teach them. I thought I told you not to look back!
LEELA: Slay me, Doctor.
DOCTOR: What?
LEELA: I'm blind. Slay me now. It is the fate of the old and crippled.
DOCTOR: You're neither old nor crippled. The effects of the flash will pass.
LEELA: You are sure?
DOCTOR: Mmm. Blink. That's interesting.
LEELA: What is?
DOCTOR: Pigmentation dispersal caused by the flash. Your eyes have changed colour. Leela, stop blinking now. Let's go.
LEELA: What colour are they?
DOCTOR: Blue
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There's a real life reason behind this scene: Leela's eye colour is changed in order to get rid of the contact lenses Louise Jameson had been wearing for the role and was having difficulty with.

This is a last Doctor Who job for director Paddy Russell. She's started out as an actress appearing in the first two, surviving episodes of The Quatermass Experiment as a Crash Site Onlooker in Contact Has Been Established and a Comet Passenger in Persons Reported Missing, both of which you can see as part of The Quatermass Collection DVD. After that she turned to directing with Out of the Unknown: Come Buttercup, Come Daisy, Come...? as an early assignment which you can see as part of the Out of the Unknown DVD Set. Her first Doctor Who came shortly after as she directed The Massacre after which followed an extensive break before she returned for Invasion of the Dinosaurs, Pyramids of Mars and finally Horror of Fang Rock. Sadly she didn't have a good working relationship with Tom Baker during the making of this story and vowed never to do a Doctor Who again.

It's all the last Doctor Who for some time for writer Terrance Dicks. His next credit comes 3 years later for State of Decay which is a rehash of The Vampire Mutation, the story which Horror of Fang Rock replaced at short notice.

For me Horror of Fang Rock is one of the very best Tom Baker stories and is amongst my top Doctor Whos full stop. It's a great base under siege and is very well done in a limited set under somewhat trying circumstances. It's one of Leela's best stories, she gets lots to do and actually gets to wear some sensible clothes for a change! My wife Liz loves it too and it frequently goes in the bag to watch when we go away to the seaside so it gets seen more often than many of the stories.

Horror of Fang Rock was novelised by the television story's author Terrance Dicks. My local library didn't have a copy so I believe the first time I read it was when I borrowed it from the central library in Kingston. It is one of Terrance's thinner efforts though, right in the middle of his "knocking a Doctor Who novel out every month" phase!

Horror of Fang Rock was one of the later Doctor Who video releases appearing on July 1998 and on DVD in January 2005. The documentary on Terrance Dicks in this set comes especially recommended and is one of my favourite special features on the DVDs.