Sunday, 18 November 2018

491 The Stones of Blood: Part Four

EPISODE: The Stones of Blood: Part Four
TRANSMITTED: Saturday 18 November 1978
WRITER: David Fisher
DIRECTOR: Darrol Blake
PRODUCER: Graham Williams
RATINGS: 7.6 million viewers
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who - The Key to Time Box Set (Ribos Operation/Pirate Planet/Stones of Blood/Androids of Tara/Power of Kroll/The Armageddon Factor)

"The prisoner has been tried and sentenced in his absence. The sentence will now be carried out. The sentence is death. You are to be executed immediately!"

The Megara intervene saving the Doctor and put him on trial, with the Doctor conducting his own defence. During the trial he coerces them to scan the mind of Vivian Fay proving that she is Cessair of Diplos, the criminal they have been hunting. They are all transported back to the stone circle, where the Doctor seizes Cessair's pendant, the source of her powers. The Megara transform her into stone before the Doctor uses the pendant, actually the third segment, to return them to their ship in Hyper Space. Bidding farewell to the Professor the Doctor, Romana & K-9 return to the Tardis to transform the segment into it's natural form and attempt to combine it with the first two.....

Some nice fun and games this episode but it's not a touch on the previous ones. In fact the whole story is a bit of a game of two halves with lots of Gothic horror in the first half and a sterile space ship in the second. For me, at least, the first half is the superior of the two.

The centrepiece of this episode is the Doctor's legal confrontation with the Megara and you can tell Tom's having a lot of fun starting with The Doctor pulling a lawyer's wig from his pocket.

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MEGARA: We are justice machines.
MEGARA: Judge.
MEGARA: Executioner.
The Megara are voiced by David McAlister and Gerald Cross. Cross made a vocal appearance earlier in this story when he supplied the off screen voice of the White Guardian in episode 1. He'd previously appeared in UFO as the Insurance Man in Reflections in the Water.
MEGARA: We are allowed to execute only prisoners who have been found guilty.
DOCTOR: Mmm. Well, it certainly adds a new dimension to the role of defending counsel. Wait a minute, wait a minute. Aren't you supposed to be offering me a last toffee apple or something? A blindfold, a hearty breakfast, a free pardon? No?
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The Megara may look like talkative balls of flashing light but they get to display some power in this episode. They disintegrate one of the two remaining Ogri to start with, the third having been presumably destroyed in it's fall over the cliff in episode three.

MEGARA: This humanoid is not Vivien Fay. She is Cessair of Diplos. Wait. She is guilty of the theft and misuse of the Great Seal of Diplos. Also of removing silicon based lifeforms from the planet Ogros in contravention of article seven five nine four of the Galactic Charter, and employing them for her own ends.
Then towards the end of the episode they transform Vivien Fay into stone, imprisoning her in the circle.
MEGARA: Cessair of Diplos, you have been tried and found guilty of the following charges. Impersonating a religious personage, to wit, a Celtic goddess, for which the penalty is imprisonment for one thousand five hundred years. Theft of the Great Seal of Diplos, for which the penalty is perpetual imprisonment. The sentences to run consecutively. Have you anything to say before sentence is passed?

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I remarked on the reuse of props during the last episode but while watching this episode I spotted another which is quite mad, and I don't believe anyone has ever spotted before I did!

Here's the control console in the prison spaceship, portions of which are reused from UFO as we pointed out last episode. But what are those orange boxes underneath, they remind me of something. A closer look shows some more detail:

vlcsnap-2017-01-21-16h37m19s-00007 2001

They are not one but two of the spacesuit chest units from 2001: A Space Odyssey! The one on the left is shown from the bottom, with the black control handle still attached to it's right side, while the one on the right is shown from the top!

2001_Dave 2001_Dave_2

The Say Hello Spaceman blog has looked extensively at the 2001 spacesuits and tells the story that although all props from the film were ordered destroyed some spacesuit elements survived and have popped up in various BBC productions, including the previous story The Pirate Planet where I completely failed to notice the backpacks!

Stones of Blood was novelised in Terrance Dicks and published in March 1980. Target books are at present being turned into audiobooks but Stones of Blood, uniquely, uses a new adaptation for it's audiobook release penned by original author David Fisher in preference to the original novelization.

Stones of Blood was released on video in May 1995 on the same day as the Androids of Tara to form the second pair of stories from the Key to Time season released, with The Ribos Operation & The Pirate Planet coming out the previous month and Power of Kroll & Armageddon Factor the next. The Key To Time season was a set of releases which came with a specially designed spine picture that ran over all six title. While there has never been a video boxset release of the Key To Time, it's only ever been available as a boxset on DVD. In October 2002 all six Key To Time stories were released in Region 1 with minimal extras & restoration to help satisfy the American demand for Tom Baker stories. The Key to Time was then released as a special edition, numbered & limited to 15,000 with brand new extras in Region 2 on the 24th September 2007, which sold out very quickly with this set commanding a premium price on eBay for quite some time. The Key to Time Box Set was reissued in a non limited edition in November 2009 and can now be had for a very reasonable price.

The final word on this story really needs to go to Professor Rumford. Beatrix Lehmann has been a superb guest star, helping bring out the best in Tom Baker. Both he and John Leeson, the voice of K-9, spoke very fondly of her on the DVD. It was Beatrix Lehmann's last television role as she passed away the following year.

EMILIA: Poor Vivien. I can't help feeling sorry for her, but she hasn't finished making trouble yet.
ROMANA: What do you mean?
EMILIA: The Nine Travellers. They'll have to be surveyed all over again. Oh, that'll put the cat amongst the pigeons, believe me.
DOCTOR: Professor, you could write a monograph about it.
EMILIA: Ah yes, and make Idwal Morgan look a fool.
ROMANA: Will you write everything that happened?
EMILIA: Certainly not. I do have my academic reputation to consider. Funny, I never noticed a police box there before.
ROMANA: Goodbye, Professor, and thank you for everything.
EMILIA: Goodbye? Where
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EMILIA: I do have my academic reputation to consider.

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