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Doctor Who: The Talons of Weng-Chiang Special Edition

 Unrated   DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
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Product Details

Product Description


"The Talons of Weng-Chiang" is one of the very best Doctor Who stories, a six-part adventure set in a gothic Victorian London inspired by The Phantom of the Opera and Sax Rohmer's tales of Fu Manchu, with nods toward Jack the Ripper, Dracula, and Sherlock Holmes. The final story from the Golden Age of the show, Philip Hinchcliff's three-year tenure as producer, the tale boasts superior production values and a bizarre storyline involving a time-traveling war criminal, giant rats in the London sewers, and a malevolent ventriloquist's doll with the brain of a pig.

Pitted against this flamboyant madness, largely centered on an East End music-hall run by the self-important Henry Gordon Jago (a memorable performance by Christopher Benjamin) are Tom Baker's fourth Doctor, in pre-self-parody top form, and Louise Jameson's Leela at her primal best. There's strong support from Trevor Baxter as the Watson-like Professor Lightfoot, and John Bennett as the villainous Li H'sen Chang. Really helping matters is the first-rate direction from David "Genesis of the Daleks" Maloney, evoking a creepy atmosphere in a fantasy London of shadows and fog. "Weng-Chiang" was the pinnacle of gothic Who and still remains highly enjoyable entertainment. --Gary S. Dalkin

Special Features

Doctor Who: The Talons of Weng-Chiang offers all six original episodes with good, if variable, full-screen picture and crisp and clear mono sound. There is also highly informative on-screen trivia text and a lively group commentary track with David Maloney, Louise Jameson, John Bennett and Christopher Benjamin. The highlight of disc 2 is an hour-long documentary, Whose Doctor Who, shown on BBC2 the day after the final episode of "Weng-Chiang" aired. Also included is 23 minutes of extremely poor-quality black-and-white timecoded video production footage and--much more fun--26 minutes worth of clips from Blue Peter with Lesley Judd, John Noakes and Peter Purvis showing how to build a Doctor Who music-hall theatre. There's also an interesting 11-minute 1977 interview with Philip Hinchcliffe, continuity announcements and trailers, a photo gallery, a short new animation, Tardis Cam No. 6, and optional subtitles. --Gary S. Dalkin

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be six stars! June 9 2004
If you went through the 26 years of Doctor Who, the longest running sci-fi show in history and you needed to pick the top 5 or maybe even the top 3 adventures, I feel comfortable saying that 99% of the fans would easily place The Talons of Weng-Chiang" in that group. The show comes from the pen of Robert Holmes and was the final show under the helm of producer Phillip Hinchcliffe, who had produced the greatest group of adventures ever for the Doctor. This, combined with the most popular Doctor of them all, Tom Baker and a wildly popular companion, Leela, makes for a grand adventure.
Taking place in Victorian London, this is one of the richest adventures in the history of the show and one of the most well written with some fantastic characterization. Magnus Greel and the Homonculous creature as well as Li Sen Chang are magnificent villains in this thriller. Yes, the giant rat is cheesy but it's all part of the fun of '70's Doctor Who. I can't recommend the adventure highly enough and there are a lot of great extras as well. I think it's also a great homage to Robert Holmes that, of the Who adventures that are out on DVD or are about to come out, there are quite a few Holmes stories amongst the few out so far, including "Carnival of Monsters", "Spearhead from Space", "The Power of Kroll", "The Ribos Operation", "The Ark in Space", "The Two Doctors", "The Talons of Weng Chiang" and "The Caves of Andozani". So, in essence, of the 158 adventures in 26 years, so far, 23 have come out on DVD. Of those 23, 8 have been written by Robert Holmes! And I believe Pyramids of Mars is coming out next, also from Holmes. Can there be any doubt that this man has done some of if not THE best "Who"?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Secrets under the theater Aug. 25 2011
Out of the entire Dr. Who series, "The Talons of Weng-Chiang" remains one of my favorites -- it was one of the first serials I ever saw.

And it doesn't hurt that it's a ripping good yarn as well, with the Doctor and Leela going back into the Victorian era in time for Chinee cults, Jack The Ripper-style killings, and a deadly secret hidden underneath a theater. This is one of those Dr. Who stories that simply gets everything RIGHT, whether it's well-developed guest characters, humor, or even a semi-sympathetic villain.

The Doctor has decided to show Leela her heritage by taking her to Victorian London, where they attend a stage show starring the Chinese magician Li H'sen Chang. But their evening is ruined when they see a cabbie murdered by a gang of Chinese men, and find that the dead guy was searching for his wife -- who went mysteriously missing during Chang's show. And she wasn't the first disappearance.

With the help of Professor Litefoot (who is very smitten with Leela despite her odd behavior) and the bumbling theater owner, the Doctor sets out to discover who Chang is working for, and what this mysterious masked figure wants. However, nobody except the Doctor can recognize who this person really is -- and the horrors they can unleash all through history.

Giant rats, Chinese gods, a killer ventriloquist dummy and a serial killer in Victorian London -- "The Talons of Weng-Chiang" is just a deliciously pulpy story, but somehow it avoids falling into outright silliness. It's one of those episodes that is immensely fun to watch, but it is also a very well-written mystery (since we don't know who Weng-Chiang is) and sci-fi story.

But another great part of this story is the guest cast.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Retro is good Doctor July 10 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Finally get to see the whole thing.
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Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is probably one of my favourite stories of classic Who, definitely in my Top 10 I would say. From the disturbing atmosphere, the authentic Victorian period costumes and atmosphere, it is brilliant. Leela shows her true competence as usual, she is definitely one of the most memorable companions. Louise Jameson balances well between Leela's naivety, strength and almost child like innocence very well. Tom Baker shines well as he usually does in his tenure as the Doctor, and he demonstrates a rather well adaptation of a Sherlock Holmes-like persona. I recommend this story to any classic Who fan, as well as, any fan looking to get into classic stories.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Talons of Weng-Chiang Oct. 11 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
After watching this again after several years, I can understand why many Doctor Who fans consider this to be one of the best (if not the best) episodes ever made. The script is excellent and the story has so many wonderful elements: adventure, horror, comedy and history. It's especially a treat for anyone with a love of Victoriana. The DVD has some incredible features, including a behind-the-scenes featurette and documentaries on the Victorian time period and Doctor Who itself.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disc 2! Feb. 7 2004
The DvD is great, but disc 2 has fantastic items on it. Documentary and Blue Peter and a nice 40th anniversary montage. This DvD also has an easter egg. They did this set of DvD's right, it is rich with details and great material. You will feel this was money well spent.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Victorian Adventure!! July 25 2002
Format:VHS Tape
This episode of Doctor Who is seen by many Whovians as one of the best, and with good reason. The Doctor and Leela (wearing the most clothes for any time in the series) land in Victorian London in the midst of strange goings on at a Chinese Magician Show. As with all DW adventures, they quickly get drawn into these myterious shenanigans, are put in danger and escape by the skin of their teeth.
What makes this different is the characterisations of the supporting characters, especially Litefoot and Jago who both inject great humour into the story. The villains are very creepy, especially Mr Sin, truly a creature of children's nightmares. The giant rats are probably the only mistake in an otherwise flawless story.
You have to see this to understand why Tom Baker is probably the most loved of the Doctors and also to view the series at one of its peaks.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars garbage
One of the lamest, most boring, dreary, plotless piles
of shallow trash ever to insult the name of Dr.Who. Read more
Published on May 4 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Who DVD
Talons is a very well put together DVD, with a horde of extras, and a great restoration job. The story itself is one of the few six parters in Doctor Who that doesn't sag by the... Read more
Published on Nov. 17 2003 by "seanusc"
5.0 out of 5 stars Doctor Who in London
There are those who consider Doctor Who to be at its very best when the errant Time Lord is visiting Earth and dealing with alien threats that are Earthbound. Read more
Published on Oct. 30 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars There can be only one.
Fact: Doctor Who is the longest running sci-fi television show. Not Star Trek!
Tom Baker is the best Doctor! Without a doubt! I hope BBC puts all the Tom Baker shows on DVD! Read more
Published on Oct. 17 2003 by TSOP
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun, magic and chinese in Victorian London
The first two-thirds or so of this Doctor Who adventure are among the best Who episodes ever. The Doctor and Leila arrive, appropriately costumed, in Victorian London, and end up... Read more
Published on Sept. 29 2003 by J. Fuchs
Regarded by fans as one of the best Doctor Who stories ever made, The Talons of Weng Chiang transports the Doctor and Leela to 19th Century Victorian London. Read more
Published on July 24 2003 by Darrin Lanchbury
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent end to Doctor Who's finest season
The Talons of Weng-Chiang is a six-part serial, and clearly much of this episode's budget went into authenticity of period costuming and set design. Read more
Published on June 13 2003 by Amazon Customer
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