mandag den 13. april 2009

Who Review #92 - the Talons of Weng-Chiang

episode by episode, scene by scene

One of the funny things about seeing Tom Baker episodes again is speculating quite why they scared me as a child. easy to understand though because the atmosphere is as thick as the London fog! This is Fu Manchu, the Ripper, the Phantom of the Opera and Sherlock Holmes meets Dr.Who; even the giant (albeit cuddly, puppet) rats in the sewers added a scary aspect to the story.

The sets are a delight, the costumes immaculate; there are small touches like Hansom cabs and a scene where Tom is in a rowboat on the Thames, that passes a steam barge, which leaves one feeling utterly convinced this is Victorian London.

Trevor Baxter (Litefoot) and Christopher Benjamin (Jago) make a good double act. John Bennett (Li H'sen Chang) is made-up to look Chinese. Although he puts in a good performance, this aspect is a negative feature of the story (in the sense of the Black and White Minstrels); the actual chinese supporting cast are reduced to silent tong ruffians.

There are some subtle touches to Dudley Simpson's excellent incidental music score.

Classic Leela
grabbing a chunck of meat and eating it with her hands at Professor Litefoot's home.
the Doctor shouts Eureka, when he finds a key; Leela asks the Doctor what happens if Weng-Chiang has another eureka.

Leela: These clothes are ridiculous. Why must I wear them?
Doctor: Because you can't walk around Victorian London in skins, you'd frighten the horses. Besides... [exits the TARDIS in cloak and deerstalker hat] ... we don't want to be conspicuous, do we?
Leela: [hears a fog horn] A swamp creature. That was its attack cry!

Leela: [to a policeman] Touch me and I will break your arm! Keep back Doctor, blue guards!
Doctor: Good evening, constable.
Policeman: When I got here sir, he [a chinese man] was being strangled with his own pigtail, sir.
Doctor: Girlish enthusiasm?

Pathologist, Dr. Litefoot: Upon my soul; I am sure we shouldn't be discussing such things in front of the fair sex. Forgive us, ma'am.
Leela: What for?
Dr.Litefoot: For being so indelicate in the presence of a lady of refinement.
Leela: Does he mean me?
Doctor: I don't think so.

The Hound of the Baskervilles
is worth watching. This BBC adaptation from 1982 is quite dark and has some of the Who team: Tom (as Holmes), Caroline John, Terrance Dicks and Barry Letts.

This story - cuddly rats aside - isn't just a great Tom Baker story, it is one of the best in the entire show's history.

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