The 15th season opened with this story and a new producer: Graham Williams. This led to the horror element being phased out of the show in favour of a lighter approach. The Hinchcliffe/Holmes era from 1975-77 (seasons 12-14) are widely regarded as a golden era in the show, as fondly remembered as the Monster season in Troughton's era (season five).
Horror of Fang Rock is in the same style as the previous stories, though. Terrance Dicks's script is dark and claustrophobic as the action takes place in a lighthouse. That does lead to a lot of toing and froing as the characters run up and down stairs to talk to each other or investigate something; however that is a minor irritant. I was genuinely frightened by this episode as a child. There are some lovely, spooky moments: the Rutan's eye view of Leela when she is out on the rocks; Reuben's devilish smile as he comes to kill Harker; the end of episode three when the Doctor realises he has locked the foe in with them.
"Reuben the Rutan", when he does appear, is a real let down. It looks like a slimey, phosphorescent brussell sprout and not the sort of thing engaged in a galactic war with its arch-enemies the Sontarans. The Rutan mothership is also a forgettable special effect.
There are some good performances, notably by Colin Douglas (Reuben). Dicks introduces a nice bit of class structure into the story with the keepers, Colonel Skinsale and the greedy and callous capitalist Lord Palmerdale. The character of Adelaide, though, has come in for a lot of criticism down the years. She basically contributes nothing to the plot (other than be another victim), screams alot and is hysterical. When she faints upon hearing Palmerdale is dead, the audience rolls its eyes like Leela does. However,Adelaide does have a fan!
- when she gloats at the death of the Rutan.
- when she asks to be slain because she thinks she is blind.
Vince: I go out sometimes and talk to the seals, just to get a change from Reuben and Ben.
Leela: Seals are animals? ... That is stupid. You should talk often with the old ones of your tribe. That is the only way to learn.
Vince: I'll get you a hot drink.
Leela: I could do with some dry clothes....
Vince: We don't have anything suitable for a lady.
Leela: I'm no lady [she laughs, as she starts undressing]
Leela: Silence! You will do as the Doctor instructs or I will cut out your heart!
Leela: I too used to believe in magic but the Doctor has taught me about science. It is better to believe in science.
A nice story but let down by episode four.
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