Doctor: Sodium Chloride
obviously affects the
conductivity, ruins the overall electrical balance and prevents
disruption to the osmotic pressures.
Leehla: The salt
Doctor: I just
Just in time for Halloween viewing BBC Video has released
one of the more atmospheric Tom Baker episodes of Doctor Who,
Image of the Fendahl. This four part
adventure is a solid outing
for the Doctor and his companion Leela who are both at the top of their
game. While the story does drag in parts
and the monster isn't nearly as horrific looking as it should be, this
a nice Who tale that comes recommended.
While traveling in the TARDIS, the Doctor and Leela
encounter a ripple in time that could have catastrophic results for the
where it originated. Tracing the anomaly
back to its origin, the Time Lord and his companion find themselves on
once again. There they find a privately
funded research lab owned and operated by Dr. Fendelman and his
Ransome, Adam Colby, and Maximilian Stael.
Fendelman has discovered a seemingly human skull in a 12-million
old lava flow, which is 8 million years before the oldest recorded
walked the Earth.
To solve this mystery and win a Nobel Prize (in what
field?? There's not a Nobel for
paleontology) the team hooks the skull up to a temporal scanner. When it's turned on the skull begins to glow
and Thea goes into a strange trance. Not
only that, but a hiker who has wandered to close to the secluded
up being killed mysteriously, drained of all life.
The Doctor quickly concludes that the dead was caused by an
old Time Lord legend, the Fendahl. They
were a mythical race that evolved to absorb life-energy itself. But how could a fairy tale used to scare
children really be responsible for the death, and what connection does
to the skull? Looking into the matter
the Doctor discovers both an ancient secret of the Time Lords that has
hidden for millions of years and a terrible danger to Earth.
One of the things I like about Doctor Who is that the format
allows the series to play with different types of stories.
This one is a gothic horror, similar to the
films that Hammer released in the 60's.
It has an eerie feeling through out that really builds the
suspense. The creepy mansion (owned by
Mick Jagger) and the small cast create a claustrophobic mood that adds
a lot to
Tom Baker is at the top of his game by this time, and he
does a great job adding just the right dose of humor to the proceedings. At one point he tells a technician to turn
off a machine in three minutes and not a moment later.
He then exits the room only to reappear a few
seconds later holding up four fingers and saying "Remember: three minutes." These
little jokes ensure that the program
doesn't get overly dramatic and consequently ludicrous by taking itself
While this is a good story, there are some things that keep
it from the top tier of Doctor Who
serials. It does take a bit for the
story to get rolling. There are several
overly long scenes at the beginning that keep the show from really
the pace. At one point in the commentary
track, Tom Baker jokes that there's something missing from a scene. "I know what it is" he says at last
"me!" He's right too.
The Doctor isn't in the first episode nearly
as much as he should be.
The rather convoluted story is a bit hard to follow at
times, and the horrific monster, something that implies an H. P.
monstrosity, is a bit silly looking when it finally appears. Of course Who
fans are used to overlooking the less than glamorous special effects,
skill will come in handy for this adventure.
One other positive note is that K-9 doesn't appear in this
story except for a moment at the beginning when the Doctor says that
disassembled and needs to be fixed. I
was never a huge fan of the character and so I was pleased he sat this
This show comes with the original mono soundtrack that fits the show
fine. The dynamic range is nothing to write home about, but the
generally crisp and clear and there is no background noise, tape hiss,
distortion or dropouts. There are optional subtitles in English.
The full frame image looks good, though not
outstanding. The Restoration
Team has done their magic and this show looks as good as can be
the age and videotape origins of the program. The color is good
not quite as intense as I would have liked. The fine detail is
the show is a little on the soft side and the exterior scenes are a bit
grainy. Aside from that this looks just fine.
This disc has some great extras included, as is the standard for Doctor Who releases. There
is a commentary track with Tom Baker,
Louise Jameson (Leela), Wanda Ventham (Thea), and Edward Arthur (Adam
Colby). It's a bit sparse with some long
gaps and not a lot of information. Most
of the commentators don't have a lot to say, though they do talk about
other actors and what they've been up to since the show aired.
There is a Making of
featurette with the writer, special
effects designer and several of the actors.
Sadly Tom Baker doesn't appear in this nice overview of the
In addition there is a pop-up informational text option
which is very informative as always. It does give some dry
statistics, like how many people viewed each episode, but there are
interesting notes such as script changes that were made and background
information on the supporting characters. The extras are rounded
a series of very minor deleted scenes (11 minutes), a trailer for the
photo gallery, and the listing from the Radio Times in .pdf format.
This is a nice sold middle-of-the-road Doctor Who
adventure. It does drag in parts but the
atmosphere and Baker's performance make up for any deficiencies in the