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Doctor Who: Horror of Fang Rock

Tom Baker , Louise Jameson    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 18.74 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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"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


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my all-time favourite Who stories Dec 5 2003
Format:VHS Tape
I can remember watching this story very young actually, and it's one of the few that I can watch today and remember seeing back then (the rest seem to have gotten lost in a fog of memory). Besides that, it's one of my favourites because it's a great story during one of the best times in Doctor Who...Tom Baker as the Doctor and Louise Jameson as Leela, his companion.
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
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best Doctor Who shows ever! May 29 2005
Format:DVD
As a beginning Dr. Who fan back in the late 1980's I was already hooked but this was the show that reeled me in. The Horror of Fang Rock is easily one of the best shows not only of Dr. Who but also in science fiction history. The Doctor arrives with his companion Leela near a lighthouse. Unknown to the inhabitants there is an unearthly creature lurking about determined to destroy all life on Earth. It is up to the Doctor to save the day!
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Everything You Could Want from Doctor Who March 14 2003
Format:VHS Tape
In one of Tom Baker's best performances as the Doctor, Horror of Fang Rock has nearly everything a fan of the series could want: snappy dialog between the Doctor and his quasi-reformed savage companion, Leela; a menacing and thoroughly cheesily-done up enemy; a well-written and executed story lacking silly tangents; and a piece that fits well within the overall Dr. Who universe.
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!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Ten Little Indians in a lighthouse Aug. 28 2002
Format:VHS Tape
Season 15 opens with what has been aptly described as Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians set in a lighthouse in the early days of the 20th century. Vince Hawkins, an amiable enough young man and one of three employees at a lighthouse on Fang Rock, sees an object fall towards the sea. Three things happen immediately after: One, there's a "fog coming up here like it's nobody's business." Two, Ben, the electrician, is electrocuted. Three, the TARDIS arrives with the Doctor and Leela.
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.
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