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Doctor Who: Horror of Fang Rock
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Doctor Who: Horror of Fang Rock (Episode 92) (DVD)
"Something is going on here. Something I don't understand." So states the old lighthouse keeper on the remote, fog-shrouded island of Fang Rock in this haunting story from Doctor Who's 15th season. If you are a new visitor to the universe of this venerable British sci-fi series, no doubt you will share his sentiment.
But for this particular story, you need not know that Doctor Who is a Time Lord who travels the cosmos in a spacecraft called the TARDIS, an interplanetary time machine that looks like a police call box, or that Tom Baker, who portrays him here, is the fourth and perhaps most popular incarnation of the good Doctor.
Horror of Fang Rock is as much ghost story as science fiction. The TARDIS has deposited the vacation-bound Doctor and his companion, Leela, on Fang Rock ("You told me I would like Brighton," an unimpressed Leela remarks about the desolate surroundings), just after a strange light was witnessed plummeting from the sky into the sea. A mysterious fog envelopes the lighthouse, and one of its inhabitants is mysteriously killed. When a ship runs aground, its passengers take refuge in the lighthouse and find themselves stalked as well. Is it the mythical Beast of Fang Rock or, as the Doctor suspects, an alien menace?
The cheesy mid-1970s-vintage special effects are part of this show's charm. Like Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons, what Doctor Who lacks in production values, it more than makes up for in verbal ingenuity. "Are you in charge?" someone asks the Doctor. "No," he responds, "but I'm full of ideas." --Donald Liebenson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Just the fact that the entire story takes place in a lighthouse was a stroke of brilliance. It's a perfect setting for this horror-laced story, brimming with tension and suspense a-plenty. The entire cast gives great performances and there are some classic Tom Baker moments: The survivors or a ruined ship take refuge and start to bicker amongst one another, and the Doctor is just sitting there amidst it, until he suddenly interrupts: "Just a moment! We haven't been introduced!" and then slumps back in his chair. Additionally, later on in the story, he returns to the survivors and says, in his usual maniacal fashion, "Gentlemen, this lighthouse is under attack and by morning we might all be dead. Now, who's interested?" Classic stuff, to be sure. Not to mention we finally see the nemeses of the Sontarans, the Rutans.
I would heavily advise this story to anybody looking for a primer in not only the Tom Baker era of Doctor Who, but Doctor Who in general. I've shown this as an introduction to several friends who were unfamiliar with the show and they've become fans as a result, so I suppose I must have chosen wisely! LOL
Clearly special effects were never Dr. Who's strong point and they certainly are not here in this episode as well but who needs them when a story is so well-written and as wonderfully acted as this episode is? I certainly plan on buying this dvd even though I already own the VHS copy.
In this episode, the Doctor's usual poor navigation skills land the Tardis not in Brighton for a holiday but upon an isolated lighthouse isle in the middle of a supernatural fog--just in time to witness a shipreck and the mysterious deaths of various members of the lighthouse crew and crash survivors.
The Doctor soon finds out that he culprit is a Rutan, the enemy of the big-headed Sontarans but no friend to humans or timelords (how a mass of glowing green jelly ever built a tremendous space fleet is beyond my comprehension, but I guess a monster with a head and arms wouldn't be scary enough). Leela's antics are hillarious as she plays the role of the savage before Victorian Brits quite well, offering to wear men's clothes while hers dry, holding a woman at knifepoint, and general skulking about and waspishness.
The story fits well within the episodic length without diverging onto silly tangents (see perhaps the Stones of Blood from the Key to Time series for a perfect example of said failing) amd encapsulates a rather entertaining story. Certainly one of the best Leela episodes and one of the better during Tom's tenure as well.
Trivia note: Louise Jameson (Leela's) ceasing to wear colored contact lenses is explained away by her eyes being temporarily blinded by intense laser light--a quick if painful form of cosmetic surgery!
Reuben, the stout oldster of the group, is initially suspicious of the Doctor and Leela, but when she tells the Doctor of a glowing creature she saw, he attributes it to the Beast of Fang Rock, which according to legend, killed two lighthouse employees and drove one mad back in the 1820's. He prefers oil to electricity, as the lights keep playing up, and has that experienced instinct of looking at the sky to see if there's going to be any fog.
Ben's body then vanishes, but before long, comes another crisis.
A yacht crashes aboard the rocks after one of the electricity foul-ups. The survivors are the arrogant Lord Palmerdale, a millionaire and crook, Colonel Skinsale, an MP who gave Palmerdale inside information in exchange for tearing up his IOU's, Adelaide Lesage, Palmerdale's high-strung secretary, and Harker the coxswain. It is he who finds Ben's body, which has had a post-mortem done on it. There then follows probably the highest casualty rate of any Who story.
Great dialogue by the Doctor: "localized condition of planetary atmospheric condensation caused a malfunction in the visual circuits." He then gives the simpler answer: "We got lost in the fog." To the members of the yacht in the crew room: "Gentlemen, I've got news for you.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I haven't seen these episodes for years. Thanks for making them available again. Oh & thanks for not enhancing that which doesn't need it. ChuckPublished on Nov. 12 2009 by Edward Charles Thompson
Tom Baker was blessed with some of the best Dr. Who scripts and this one, for me, remains one of the best and one of the most intriguing. Read morePublished on Nov. 7 2003 by Simon Wood
The Doctor and Leela arrive at a lighthouse which, unknown to the keepers, has already received a visitor. Read morePublished on June 29 2003 by Illumination
While this episode doesn't have nearly the number of "Doctorish" moments as others (with the exception of one of my favorite Doctor lines, delivered to Leela after she saves his... Read morePublished on Feb. 19 2002 by kentuckyreader
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