Tom Baker as Doctor Who

Tom Baker as Doctor Who

Sunday, 5 March 2017

449 The Talons of Weng-Chiang: Part Two

EPISODE: The Talons of Weng-Chiang: Part Two
OVERALL EPISODE NUMBER: 449
STORY NUMBER: 091
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 05 March 1977
WRITER: Robert Holmes
DIRECTOR: David Maloney
SCRIPT EDITOR: Robert Holmes
PRODUCER: Philip Hinchcliffe
RATINGS: 9.8 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who: Revisitations 1: The Talons Of Weng-Chiang, The Caves Of Androzani & Doctor Who - The Movie

"Patience, Lord. We know the time cabinet is here. The cabinet of Weng-Chiang in the house of an infidel. We shall recover it!"

Escaping the rat they return to Professor Litefoot. Jago's assistant Casey reports seeing a ghost in the cellar, and while investigating Jago finds a ladies glove. However Chang hypnotises him ordering him to forget the cellar & missing woman. Chang then reports to his master in the theatre cellar. He is seeking his missing Time Cabinet and, dying, needs Chang to bring him young women to feed on. A policeman reports, after speaking to the deceased's mother in law, that he'd been to the Theatre. The Doctor goes there and meets Jago, who he discovers has been hypnotised by Chang. Breaking the hold the Doctor discovers that the cab driver was there searching for his wife and they search the cellar where they encounter a "ghost", which the Doctor identifies as a holographic projection. Chang & his master take to the streets in a cab using a high tech device to seek the Time Cabinet. Returning to the theatre The Doctor & Jago encounter Chang's master who has returned. Litefoot has taken Leela to his home but believing there to be an intruder he ventures outside only for Leela to be attacked by Chang's dummy, Mister Sin who has come for the Time Cabinet!

Cracking ending. We'd had it insinuated last episode that Sin was responsible for Buller's murder, with Jago spotting the blood trickling down his arm but here's the big revelation that he can move by himself. It's been carefully concealed too with Chang cradling Sin even when they're on their way to the house:

2x 2z

The last time I watched this I said

But for some odd reason it didn't really hold my attention like the first part did.
This time was a bit different. I settled down and enjoyed the dialogue. Take for example The Doctor's first meeting with Jago:
JAGO: Yes?
DOCTOR: Terrible weather for the time of the year.
JAGO: The theatre's closed.
DOCTOR: Shush.
JAGO: What do you want?
DOCTOR: Are you the manager?
JAGO: I'm the owner, sir. Henry Gordon Jago at the end of a long day, so if you'd kindly state your business.
DOCTOR: Henry Gordon Jago, how do you do, sir. I'm the Doctor.
JAGO: Doctor?
DOCTOR: Exactly.
JAGO: Ah, now I've rumbled your game. I admire your brass, but it won't do. Call back on Saturday.
DOCTOR: Don't move. Hold that.
JAGO: Auditions commence at ten o'clock sharp. Supporting acts booked for one week only.
JAGO: Is that all?
DOCTOR: No. Dramatic recitations, singing, tap-dancing. I can play the Trumpet Voluntary in a bowl of live goldfish.
JAGO: Don't bother coming back on Saturday.
Superb stuff.

Once again Holmes' Magpie like approach to other people's work is seen here with most obviously The Phantom of the Opera being used at liberty through the episode whenever we're in the theatre and made obvious by the Doctor chasing a masked figure through the upper reaches of the establishment!

2 Theatre 3 2 Theatre 4

And then there's a trail of clues laid for us linking the sewers, which we saw in the start of the last episode, to the the Theatre:

CASEY: Ah, it's black as Newgate's knocker down here. It's over this way, Mister Jago.
JAGO: Flickering shadows, Casey. Trick of the light.
CASEY: Shadows don't groan, Mister Jago. Shadows don't clank chains and moan like all the demented souls in hell.
JAGO: There's your ghost. Six-gun Sadie and her Wild West troupe left that behind. All Lombard Street to ninepence, that's what you saw.
CASEY: It weren't that old thing. Anyway, I heard it.
JAGO: Ah, Casey, you're a pixilated leprechaun. The course of the river Fleet runs right under the foundations of this old theatre. What you heard was a clang and the rush of water as they closed the sluice gates down on the Thames.
And again at the police station:
DOCTOR: No plan of the sewers?
KYLE: We don't keep plans of sewers here, sir, but as far as I know, they all connect to the Fleet and then down to the river. But if you've got any information, sir?
DOCTOR: At the moment, Sergeant, we're looking for information ourselves.
Till finally Jago tells the Doctor what he told Casey allowing the Doctor to start to put the trail together:
DOCTOR: What's under here?
JAGO: You mean right where we're standing?
DOCTOR: Yes.
JAGO: Well, they say the course of the River Fleet runs right
DOCTOR: Fleet?
JAGO: Yes, the River Fleet runs right under these foundations.
DOCTOR: Excellent. We're getting somewhere.
One associates London with the River Thames, which flows from west to east through the city. But several other rivers run into the Thames in London, including The River Fleet. However over time the river was built round and used as a sewer by the buildings surrounding it so eventually it was built over and effectively turned into one. The Fleet is still there to this day, flowing under London, and gives it's name to Fleet Street the street built over some of it's length which was formerly the home to the British newspaper industry.

There's more clues the theatre and what's in the sewers are associated: The Doctor escapes from an encounter with a giant rat at the end of the last episode. Now in the theatre he finds a giant spider. OK, neither is the BBC's greatest effect but remember this exchange from the autopsy in last episode?

DOCTOR: What I'd like to know is, what do you think of these?
LITEFOOT: Some sort of hair.
DOCTOR: Yes. I think they're rat hairs.
LITEFOOT: Rat hairs? Do you know what you're saying, man?
DOCTOR: Yes, of course I know what I'm saying.
LITEFOOT: But they're nearly three inches long. Hairs on a rat can't be more than what, quarter of an inch?
DOCTOR: Interesting, isn't it, because I've just remembered something else about Weng-Chiang.
LEELA: What?
DOCTOR: He was the god of abundance. Yes, he made things grow.
It's still bothering Litefoot as he takes The Doctor and Leela home for dinner:
LITEFOOT: It's been jolly interesting, wouldn't you say? Most of the corpses around here are jolly dull. Now I've got a couple of inscrutable Chinks and a poor perisher who was chewed by a giant rat, having been stabbed by a midget.
DOCTOR: A midget?
LITEFOOT: Angle of the wound. Oh, upon my soul. I'm sure we shouldn't be discussing such things in front of the fair sex. Forgive us, ma'am.
LEELA: What for?
LITEFOOT: For being so indelicate in the presence of a lady of refinement.
LEELA: Does he mean me?
DOCTOR: I don't think so.
LEELA: It's very interesting. You say you can tell the height of the attacker by the way the blade was thrust? But when aiming for the heart, we were always taught to strike under the breastbone.
LITEFOOT: Upon my soul!
DOCTOR: Savage. Found floating down the Amazon in a hat box.
LITEFOOT: A hat box?
A bit of The Importance of Being Ernest there with Litefoot's "a hatbox?", and then we get some Pygmallion with Leela's manners at the table:
LITEFOOT: Ah, now, let's see what we have here. Mrs Hudson always leaves me a cold collation. Ham, roast beef, chicken, tongue. Those look like quail, unless I'm much mistaken.
LEELA: Meat.
LITEFOOT: Yes, well, perhaps we shouldn't wait for your friend the Doctor. Help yourself, my dear. Plates on the end of the table. I'll, er, I'll just put a log or two on the fire.
LEELA: It's good.
LITEFOOT: Oh, I'm so glad.
LEELA: Is something wrong?
LITEFOOT: No, no. Would you care for a knife or a fork?
LEELA: It's a good knife. Aren't you going to eat?
2 dinner 1 2 dinner 2

We meet Chang's master, Weng Chiang, for the first time this episode, and he's not a well man:

CHANG: You are ill.
WENG: I am dying, Chang. You must bring another linnet to my cage.
CHANG: But only yesterday
WENG: The disease grows worse. Each distillation lasts less than the time before.
CHANG: And with every girl reported missing, panic increases. I fear one of them will be traced here.
WENG: You must be careful.
CHANG: Careful as I am, Lord, there is always risk of discovery. Even tonight I acted quickly to keep our secret. A man was on his way to police.
WENG: Bah. Those dumb-witted oxen. Chang, I have given you mental powers undreamt of in this century. You are thousands of years ahead of your time. What can you fear from these primitives?
CHANG: True, Lord, I read their minds with ease, but tonight there was a stranger, a man whose thoughts were hidden. A man different from all others.
WENG: Describe him.
CHANG: He is a doctor. Tall with wide pale eyes and hair that curls like the ram. He ask many questions.
WENG: A time agent would not ask questions. A time agent would know.
CHANG: But I fear danger, Lord, and have sent a man to kill him.
WENG: Your opium-addicted scum are all bunglers, Chang. You should have seen to it yourself.
CHANG: If he troubles us further, Lord, I will deal with him personally.
WENG: Very well. We're wasting time. Come.
The references to "Time Agents" and "thousands of years ahead of your time" make you think that possibly he isn't native to this time period and that's seemingly confirmed when we're introduced to what Weng Chiang is doing here:
WENG: You are certain these are different streets?
CHANG: The driver has his orders. Every night we quarter a new sector.
WENG: For how much longer?
CHANG: Patience, Lord. We know the time cabinet is here. The cabinet of Weng-Chiang in the house of an infidel. We shall recover it.
And we also get a big clue to where it is and how it got there:

2 coach 2 Cabinet

LITEFOOT: Yes, as I was saying, they're a mysterious lot, the Chinese. Enigmatic. I never got anywhere near to understanding them, and I was brought up in China.
DOCTOR: Really? What were you doing there?
LITEFOOT: My father was Brigadier General in the punitive expedition of 1860. Afterwards he stayed in Peking as a palace attach. Died there in the end, poor old buffer. Fireworks at the funeral. Odd custom. Odd sort of people.
You even get to see the time cabinet before you know what it is!

Talons of Weng Chiang features plenty of location filming and as we've already seen there was an away trip to Northampton, primarily to use the interior of The Royal Theatre

1 Theatre 2 Theatre 1

The police station interiors were filmed at the City Buildings.

2 Police Station 2 Morgue

The backstage & the mortuary were recorded at the nearby St Crispin's Hospital, where visible electrical sockets had to be taped over: look carefully and you can still spot them!

Many of the remaining locations were filmed in London and of note is the Wapping Pier Head location where, despite requests not to, one of the residents left their car in full view. The production team threw a tarpaulin over it and covered it in hay to disguise it!

2 Haystack 2 h street

A similar set of houses at Bankside Jetty provides the location that Litefoot's coach drops the Doctor off.

One for those who were at RUTC with me: nearby Cambridge Park, next to Marble Hill Park, is the location for Litefoot's House.

2 Twickenham 2 House

There's several Passers By in this episode: John Cannon we saw earlier this year playing the possessed Elgin in Hand of Fear (Eldrad must Live!) but before that he'd been a Miner in The Monster of Peladon. He's back as a Trog in Underworld, a Technican in The Pirate Planet, a Guard in The Armageddon Factor part one, another guard in The Creature from the Pit part one, an Extra in Time-Flight, Striker's Helmsman in Enlightenment and Sir Raulf Fitzwilliam's 1st Servant in The King's Demons part one. As per most supporting artists at this time he's got Blake's 7 on his CV appearing as a Federation Trooper in Project Avalon, Cevedic's Heavy in Gambit, a Labourer in The Harvest of Kairos and a Federation Trooper in Children of Auron. He can be, very briefly, seen in The Empire Strikes Back as a Holographic Imperial Officer and also appears a Technician in the Moonbase 3 episode Castor and Pollux. Away from science fiction he worked with acclaimed Doctor Who director Douglas Camfield as a Legionnaire in Beau Geste (TV Mini-Series), he was in I, Claudius as a Cake Ship slave in A Touch of Murder, Porridge as Prison Inmate in A Night In, The Professionals as Huey in It's Only a Beautiful Picture and two appearances in The Sweeney as a constable in Supersnout and a Policeman in Thou Shalt Not Kill, where he also worked with Camfield.

Passer By number 2 is the similarly named Jean Channon. She started as a Parisian Woman in The Massacre 1: War of God before appearing as an extra in The Green Death and, at the start of this season, a Masquer in The Masque of Mandragora part four. She'll be back as an Extra in Nightmare of Eden and Castrovalva, a Dinner Guest in Snakedance, a Lazar in Terminus and an Extra in Survival. She's also a Zondawl Citizen in the penultimate Blakes 7 episode Warlord.

A third Passer By was Bill Hughes who was in The War Games: Episode Two an an uncredited Prison Guard / Prisoner. Which one was he? One or both? Must check when I reblog that story in two years time!

Didn't spot the Chestnut Seller in the episode: he was David J. Grahame who also started in The Massacre 1: War of God as a Parisian Man before appearing as an Extra in The War Machines episode 4, a Control Room Technician in The Ambassadors of Death, a Villager/coven member in The Dæmons and the Old Man in The Mutants episode one, doing a fabulous impersonation of Monty Python's IT'S man IIRC!

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