Part One

Sue: What do I need to know about this one?
Me: Well, it’s a new season and there’s a new producer in charge.

She didn’t ask me for a name. That’s how interested she is.

Me: Oh, and this story was made in Birmingham.
Sue: Fascinating.

She couldn’t care less. In fact, it’s probably fair to say this story gets off to a very rocky start. Sorry.

Sue: New season. New producer. New shit special effect.

Horror of Fang RockTwo men are keeping watch on a lighthouse.

Sue: The CSO’s a bit dodgy. They probably weren’t used to it in Birmingham. I bet they didn’t use CSO on Pebble Mill at One all that much.

When the TARDIS lands nearby, Leela fears the worst.

Sue: It’s official – Leela is definitely psychic. She isn’t a very good psychic, though. She needs to be more specific. Of course something feels wrong, you’re a Doctor Who companion. Get used to it, pet.

Back in the lighthouse…

Sue: Gorgeous brickwork.


Sue: Lovely cabinets.
Me: There’s enough confectionary on those shelves to open a sweet shop.

Freezing fog envelops the coastline and the power goes out. The lighthouse keeper (or George Harrison, if you’re Sue) heads to the generator room to investigate, only to be brutally murdered.

Sue: It’s like The Mist. Maybe we should watch this in black and white?

Horror of Fang RockThe Doctor and Leela enter the lighthouse and he makes a bee-line for a discarded hat.

Sue: His hat fetish is back again, I see. Oh dear, that isn’t a good look for him. Take it off, please.

The Doctor pumps Vince for information about the lighthouse.

Sue: Lovely cabinets.
Me: I know. You’ve already said that.
Sue: But they’re really nice cabinets. And speaking of wood, this guy is terrible.

Vince tells Leela that working in a lighthouse is a lonely business, and he amuses himself by hanging around the local seal population.

Sue: That isn’t the best chat-up line in the world. Trust me, no one will want to marry this lighthouse keeper.

Horror of Fang RockReuben has his own pet theories about what could have killed George Harrison, including Frogs, Ruskies and spirits.

Sue: So this guy is basically a superstitious racist? I don’t fancy his chances.

Sue makes some appreciative noises about this episode’s camera movement, and she isn’t surprised when I tell her that the director, Paddy Russell, was a woman.

Sue: What I can’t believe is this was shot in a TV studio. It looks better than some locations we’ve been to. It’s all down to the lighting. Paddy knew what she was doing.
Me: You can count the number of female directors who worked on the classic series on one hand.
Sue: That is very sad.

The Doctor charms Vince with tales from other worlds.

Sue: He’s calling it Gallifree again. Maybe Tom Baker pronounces it the right way and we’ve been saying it the wrong way all this time? That would be embarrassing.

A circular frame is placed over the camera to represent the alien’s point of view.

Sue: It isn’t a Dalek, is it? A Dalek wouldn’t fit in a cramped lighthouse, so I’m guessing not.

Horror of Fang RockA luxury yacht appears out of nowhere – and it’s heading for the rocks.

Sue: They’re trying their best, bless them.

And then, after an interminable delay, the theme music crashes in as well.

Sue: That was rubbish. Why didn’t they finish the episode with Leela being threatened by that alien thingy? What was Paddy thinking?

As the credits roll, I notice a familiar name.

Me: Look! It’s John Nathan-Turner’s first credit.

Before you start, I know he worked on The Space Pirates (as John Turner) but who wants to bring that up again?

Sue: That name rings a bell. Is he important?


Part Two

Horror of Fang RockSue: Leela couldn’t care less about the crew of this ship that’s just crashed. That’s not very nice.

Leela gazes down from the top of the lighthouse and we get our first real glimpse of the alien creature.

Sue: What the hell was that? There’s no scale. How big is it supposed to be? Is it the size of a bus? Can you step on it? Which is it?

The survivors from the stricken yacht stumble into the lighthouse. They include Lord Henry Palmerdale (“A ****”), his secretary, Adelaide (“Posh totty”), and Colonel Skinsale, who just happens to be the local MP for Thurley (“I bet he’s a Tory”).

Sue: Here comes the fresh meat. It’s clever, actually. I have no complaints about this script.

Reuben tells Leela the creature she spied earlier was the dreaded Beast of Fang Rock.

Sue: You know, this definitely rings a bell. Have I seen this before?
Me: You’re probably thinking of Fraggle Rock.
Sue: Possibly.

Horror of Fang RockSue tuts every time Palmerdale opens his mouth, and she enjoys watching the Doctor put him in his place.

Sue: Why hasn’t the Moff asked Terrance Dicks to write for the new series yet? He isn’t dead, is he? “Bwarry said to me”. Just think, he could be saying, “The Moff said to me” instead. Just think about that for a moment, Neil.

The Doctor and Leela investigate the generator room.

Sue: This lighthouse sounds exactly like our washing machine.

Vince retrieves George Harrison’s remains from the shoreline.

Sue: I wasn’t sure about Vince at first, but he’s starting to grow on me. He’s sweet. Stupid but sweet.

It turns out Palmerdale and Skinsale are involved in a dodgy insider trading deal.

Sue: This is a bit deep for the kids, but I’m loving it.

The Doctor admits to Leela that they are in terrible danger.

Sue: Tom is really selling the threat to me this week. And Leela is great, too. I love the way she tells the Doctor not to be afraid.

We momentarily perceive events from the alien’s perspective.

Sue: Am I supposed to know what that is?
Me: Well, they are mentioned in a David Tennant story.
Sue: That doesn’t help.

Horror of Fang RockPalmerdale wants to leave, so the Doctor unleashes Leela.

Sue: So it’s okay for Leela to be violent when it suits the Doctor. That’s a bit rich.

The episode concludes with Reuben’s agonised screams echoing through the lighthouse, as Skinsale looks on, bewildered.

Sue: Another poor cliffhanger. Shame.


Part Three

Vince is surprised when the power comes back on.

Sue: This set is so good, it still looks great when you light it.

Horror of Fang RockAdelaide’s incessant whining shows no signs of abating.

Sue: She belongs on the stage. Take it down a notch, love.

Palmerdale bribes Vince into sending a telegraph back to the mainland.

Sue: No Vince! Don’t do it! Don’t be a Benny!

A green blob makes its way up the side of the lighthouse.

Sue: What the **** is that?

The alien reaches the gallery and kills Palmerdale.

Sue: Thanks for that.

A man who looks like Reuben locks himself in his room, so Leela breaks it down with a sledgehammer.

Me: Here’s… Leela!

The Doctor tells her to leave the poor man alone.

Sue: Is it just me or is the Doctor off his game this week? He’s making a right pig’s ear of this.

The Doctor excels at one thing, though – when it comes to scaring the crap out of the remaining survivors, nobody comes close. Cue Adelaide’s screams.

Sue: Oh, somebody slap her. Please.

Horror of Fang RockLeela is only too happy to oblige. Meanwhile Reuben is glowing bright green in his bedroom.

Sue: Like an evil gnome.

The corpses start to pile up and Adelaide screams the place down.

Sue: There’s no way she’ll be the next companion. Leela can rest easy.

The episode concludes with the Doctor admitting he’s made a terrible mistake.

Sue: See!

He’s locked the enemy inside with them.

Sue: Finally, a decent cliffhanger.


Part Four

Horror of Fang RockSue: I’m a bit confused.
Me: What’s the problem?
Sue: How many aliens are there running around this place?
Me: Just the one.
Sue: Right, so how can it be hanging off the side of the lighthouse and an evil gnome at the same time?
Me: It climbed out of the window.
Sue: Okay, that makes sense. But there’s something else I don’t understand – how has this happened before?
Me: Er…
Sue: They keep telling us this thing has killed people before, many years ago. But how can that be true if it landed here today?
Me: Well, the original story about the beast is just a myth.
Sue: So it’s just a massive coincidence?
Sue: Yes, well, erm…

The Doctor finds the alien’s power source. It was trying to contact its own kind.

Sue: Maybe it’s like ET and it just wants to go home?

The creature kills Adelaide.

Sue: See, it’s not all bad.

The Doctor sends Leela and Skinsale off to find something they could use against the alien.

Sue: Why is the Doctor asking them to look for biscuits?
Me: What?
Sue: What good are macaroons at a time like this?
Me: Not macaroons, you fool. Maroons!
Sue: What the hell is a maroon when it’s at home?

Horror of Fang RockThe Doctor confronts fake-Reuben on the stairs. The creature reverts to its natural form. It’s a Rutan, scourge of the Sontarans.

Sue: I definitely don’t remember seeing that in a David Tennant episode. I think I would have remembered that.

The Rutan proudly boasts that no human could possibly harm it.

Sue: Just jump on it. It would be messy, sure, but it wouldn’t stand a chance. Or repeatedly whack it with a plank of wood. You could even squeeze it like a big, fat zit if you had some insulated gloves. It’s not all that, is it? How do the Sontarans take them seriously?

The Doctor has to destroy the Rutan mothership, and to do that he’ll need to convert the lighthouse’s lamp into a carbon arc beam, and for that he’ll need some crystallised carbon. Skinsale recovers some diamonds from Palmerdale’s corpse, but when the Doctor discards the gems he doesn’t need to complete his mission, and Skinsale tries to salvage them, the Rutan nobbles him.

Sue: Killed by greed. Typical MP.
Me: There goes the last surviving member of the guest cast.
Sue: Well done, Doctor. I told you he was mucking it up this week.

The Doctor tells Leela that Skinsale died with honour.

Sue: With honour? He was killed because he was a greedy bastard!

The Rutan is mortally wounded with a barrage from a Schermuly, and Leela takes some time out to gloat over the corpse.

Sue: She needs psychiatric help.

The Doctor makes some adjustments to the lamp, and then, as soon as he’s switched it on, he and Leela make a run for it.

Sue: Don’t slip on any phlegm on your way out!

The lamp destroys the Rutan ship, but Leela disobeys the Doctor’s orders and she’s blinded by the explosion. She begs the Doctor to put her out of her misery.

Sue: He may as well. He is having one of those days.

Horror of Fang RockLeela’s blindness is only temporary, although it has changed the colour of her eyes (we have to take the Doctor’s word for this because it’s too dark for us to tell). I have to explain to Sue that Louise Jameson’s eyes were naturally blue and she had to wear painful contact lenses to make them appear brown.

Sue: Really? I hadn’t noticed. What a complete waste of time. Hey, wasn’t Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue in the charts when this was made? Or is that a massive coincidence as well?

As they make their way back to the TARDIS, the Doctor recites a quick verse from ‘The Ballad of Flannan Isle’ by Wilfred Gibson.

Sue: So everybody dies and the Doctor celebrates by larking about. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

The TARDIS dematerialises.

Sue: I’m sorry, but that model looked terrible. Our TARDIS biscuit barrel is more realistic than that.


The Score

Sue: You could definitely make that story again today. You wouldn’t have to change all that much. It was a confident script, and Tom Baker has never been better. I really enjoyed it.


Me: Why did it lose a mark?
Sue: The alien.
Me: That’s a bit shallow, isn’t it?
Sue: Oh come off it, Neil, it was terrible!
Me: I can’t believe you’re still knocking marks off for the special effects.
Sue: It wasn’t just the special effects, it was the whole concept. How could that thing win a fight against a Sontaran? Unless it pretended to be a Sontaran, and that would be confusing, visually. All right, I was disappointed when the Sontarans didn’t turn up at the end. Okay?
Me: Fair enough. So what about the new producer, Graham Williams?
Sue: Oh, I forgot all about him. I honestly couldn’t tell the difference between him and the last one. I’m sure he’ll be fine.




  1. Al  June 18, 2012

    “Made in Birmingham. Yes, that’s the main requirement.”
    Both to avoid M&S ‘food’ trebuchets, please.

  2. Simon Harries  June 18, 2012

    Welcome back – and glad to hear Sue is recovering. In fact, on the strength of what she said about episodes three and four, one might almost say, “Dear me, she seems to be almost back on form!” 🙂 I’m very pleased that this one scored highly, it’s always been a favourite of mine. I agree about the TARDIS model shot – they had the police box at Ealing, they could at least have done a dematerialisation with the full size prop? Budget cuts, budget cuts…

  3. Jez Noir  June 18, 2012

    Very fair review, although it didn’t seem like it was going to get such a high mark at the end. I too would love to see what Dicks would bring to the new series (especially if what he brought was a Raston robot)

    Incidentally, I read this while listening to that new album “Drokk: Music inspired by Mega-City One” by the lad from Portishead. It really would have made the ultimate soundtrack to Horror of Fang Rock.

  4. Glen Allen  June 18, 2012

    “when the Doctor discards the diamonds he doesn’t need to complete his mission, Skinsale tries to salvage them. The Rutan nobbles him.”

    We’re talking about one of the most powerful …(things) in the cosmos. “Nobble” him?

    Loved it. I have a soft spot for this story despite the shoddy ship and the hysterical woman.
    In fact I enjoyed putting Leela slapping Adelaide into my Louise Jameson’s birthday video ( forgive the indulgence…..you can see it here)… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_kPPSYI2UEo

    Oh and for a genuine version of Sue’s first line in Episode 4 click the link below:)

    • Roderick T. Long  June 19, 2012

      I have a soft spot for this story despite the shoddy ship and the hysterical woman.

      That’s a bit extreme; Sue wasn’t especially hysterical. Unless you mean hysterically funny ….

  5. Glen Allen  June 18, 2012

    Oh and while Im at it (err as it were) how do I stop being a black box and have an avatar there instead? Is it a gift of the Timelords?

  6. Josiah Rowe  June 18, 2012

    Sue: What the hell is a maroon when it’s at home?

    Fun fact: the teams at my (snooty private American) high school were called “the Maroon”. The official line is that it merely refers to the school colors, maroon and black, but actually it’s a leftover from the school’s racist past: a “maroon” is a runaway slave. (I suppose it’s not a million miles from having teams called the Redskins or Braves.) The school has thoroughly covered up this bit of history — I never saw an image of a runaway slave mascot or anything — but our athletic rivals liked to needle us about our odd team name. I’m not sure whether they knew the unsavory answer to the question, but fans of our rival teams used to chant “What the hell’s a maroon?” at football games.

    • Bestbrian  June 18, 2012

      You think that’s bad, my highschool nickname/mascot was “The Flying L’s”. Stupid Florida. 🙂

      • Josiah Rowe  June 18, 2012

        What the L?

        • Bestbrian  June 18, 2012

          I attended Ft Lauderdale High School, in Ft Lauderdale, Florida. The L stood for Lauderdale. Legend has it that at a track meet some hundred odd years ago one of the school’s runners was so fast that a reporter exclaimed “Look at that L fly!”. Henceforth, and forever more, we were the Flying L’s, with the symbol of a blue and white L with little Mercury wings at the apex. Noone ever got it right, anyway, thinking we were chanting for “The Flying Elves”. 🙂 Lamest. Mascot. Ever. 🙂

  7. DPC  June 18, 2012

    Great review, thanks!

    I’m going to have to watch this story again!

    Oh, in Chicago around 1986, some hackers broke the PBS TV signal and aired something pretty bizarre (a la “Max Headroom”) over the pirated airwaves. Oodles of people have it posted on youtube, sadly… to this day, the people who did it have never been caught. Despite the visual evidence… 😐

  8. encyclops  June 18, 2012

    Sigh. I feel about this one the way Sue and a few of the commenters feel about Robots of Death. I’m not sure why, but it’s just never really been one of my favorites and I’ve never found it very appealing. It seems well done for what it is, but it just doesn’t make much of an impression. I feel much the same way about the first episode of the next season — both have clever scripts and fine characters, and while the monsters are awful I couldn’t care less about that, but the settings are so claustrophobic and drab that I just can’t get excited about either one.

    Granted, there’s only one story this season I like better than this one, but somehow I always lump it in with the previous season in my head and it suffers by comparison.

    I’m a little confused by the David Tennant / Rutan comment too.

    • Roderick T. Long  June 19, 2012

      I’m a little confused by the David Tennant / Rutan comment too.

      Tennant mentions them in “The Poison Sky.” They also get a mention in the Sarah Jane Adventures.

      • Jazza1971  June 19, 2012

        The comment was changed after people posted about DT/Rutan reference, originally Neil posted that the rutans had appeared with David Tennant.

  9. jsd  June 18, 2012

    Sue seemed so down on it, I’m amazed it ended up at a 9/10. I personally would give it more like a 7. I didn’t like it much at all when I was younger but it has grown on me. Strangely violent and bleak for Graham Williams though, isn’t it.

  10. Alisaunder  June 18, 2012

    I liked this one for the strong historical feeling, but always wondered when we would see the sontarans and rutans square off.

    As much as I like Tom, I think Im looking forward to the other Baker so Sue will have more to say. You may as well tell us now how she feels about All Creatures.

    • P.Sanders  June 18, 2012

      Oh I suspect she’ll have plenty to say about the next story…

  11. Ellya Rambuko  June 18, 2012

    Never mind George Harrison, I always thought Vince was the spit for Ray Davies.

  12. Broton  June 18, 2012

    When was a Rutan in a Tennant episode?

    • Roderick T. Long  June 19, 2012

      Mention, not appearance; see above.

      • Jazza1971  June 19, 2012

        The comment was changed after people posted about DT/Rutan reference, originally Neil posted that the rutans had appeared with David Tennant. See above ;o)

  13. SparkyMarky  June 18, 2012

    Hello. I’ve been reading this blog for about 2 weeks now and I’ve already caught up with your most recent post, so this is my first comment. There are a couple of stories that I always like to put on when I want a bit of atmosphere, tension and scares, this one and Image of the Fendahl. Only problem with both is the dodgy monster.

    I love your blog although it has annoyed my other half as I’ve been chuckling away to myself in the study while he’s been trying to revise for an exam- oh dear. Anyway keep up the experiment I look forward to future updates!!

    • encyclops  June 18, 2012

      Fendahl is my favorite this season and one of my favorites overall. I love its monsters, but then I frankly love everything about it.

      • SparkyMarky  June 18, 2012

        Fendahl is just creepy. I hate it when the Doctor can’t run. I won’t say anymore….spoilers!

  14. Jazza1971  June 18, 2012

    This has to be the line of the review:-

    “Sue: You know, this definitely rings a bell. Have I seen this before?

    Me: You might be thinking of Fraggle Rock.

    Sue: Possibly.”

    And to echo earlier comments, I too was confused with the Tennant/Rutan remark. The rutans do turn up during “The Gunpowder Plot” adventure game with Matt Smith, but I can’t think of the DT appearance. I suspect I am being incredibly stupid…

    • Roderick T. Long  June 19, 2012

      See above.

      • Jazza1971  June 19, 2012

        Also see above.

  15. Chris Too-old-to-watch  June 18, 2012

    Glad Sue’s better: I’ve had problems with the other end after a dodgy supermarket sandwich last weekend, so we’re obviously resonating in some sort of weird harmony……
    Glad Sue liked this, I’ve always felt the claustrophobic feel was superb, and the direction/story one of the best.

    Personally I think “The Horror of Fraggle Rock” just about sums that series up……

  16. Lewis Christian  June 18, 2012

    “I honestly couldn’t tell the difference between him and the last one. I’m sure he’ll be fine.”


    And, um, which Tennant episode did they appear in?!?

    • Andrew Bowman  June 18, 2012

      They are mentioned in “The Sontaran Stratagem/The Poison Sky” (indeed, I believe Neil says “mentioned”).

      On the subject of Ben and Rueben, when I first saw this I thought it was a Two Ronnies sketch until Ben (Ronnie Corbett) got killed. In fact, that’s the version I always stick to; a Kafkaesque comedy double-act where things take a turn for the decidedly dark.

      • PolarityReversed  June 18, 2012

        Thanks for the Two Ronnies reference Andrew. You’ve awakened memories I’ve spent years trying to suppress!

      • Jazza1971  June 18, 2012

        I believe the “mentioned” is a later edit after comments from others…but I could be wrong.

      • Tim Cook  June 18, 2012

        Oddly enough, when I first saw this story as a 5-year-old, I was convinced Ben was being played by Ronnie Corbett.

  17. Lewis Christian  June 18, 2012

    “He looks like an evil gnome” has gotta be the line of the story! 😀

  18. Lewis Christian  June 18, 2012

    Bar the awful-looking Matt Smith game, it’s quite funny that this has been the only Rutan story/appearance.

    Also, let’s not forget that “Horror of Fang Rock” was a late replacement for the scripts Terrance Dicks had originally submitted, a vampire-based tale entitled The Vampire Mutations, which was cancelled close to production as it was feared it could detract from the BBC’s Count Dracula a high-profile adaptation of Bram Stoker’s classic novel Dracula, which was due for transmission close to when the serial would have aired. A re-written version did, however, eventually see production in 1980 as “State of Decay”, part of the eighteenth season of Doctor Who.

    Thanks Wiki.

    Plus wasn’t Terrance lumbered with the single lighthouse idea thanks to somebody else? I’m sure it’s on the DVD that he’d confined someone previously to very little, and this was their payback. It’s very good though.

    • Simon Harries  June 18, 2012

      Terrance made Robert Holmes write The Time Warrior as a medieval yarn, which did not enthuse him. When the roles were reversed and Terrance claimed to know nothing about lighthouses, Holmes sent him a children’s book about lighthouses.

      • Dave Sanders  June 18, 2012

        Sue would NOT want to live in a lighthouse, it’s like a vertically-mounted caravan that doesn’t go anywhere.

        • Phuzz  June 18, 2012

          Indeed, I can’t imagine they’re easy to clean either, imagine having to lug a vacuum cleaner up all those stairs.

  19. Lewis Christian  June 18, 2012

    And, finally, this story was a turning point for Baker and Jameson: According to the DVD commentary supplied by Louise Jameson, John Abbott and Terrance Dicks, a scene in Part Three was crucial to the behind-the-scenes relationship between Jameson and co-star Tom Baker. In one scene, he consistently came in ahead of his cue, thereby upstaging her. On the grounds that this move was “not what they had rehearsed” she insisted on three successive retakes until he came in at the rehearsed time. This eventually won his respect. From that point forward, she claims their working relationship was much smoother.

    • encyclops  June 18, 2012

      So Louise Jameson is just as awesome as the character she played? I love it.

      • Neowhovian  June 20, 2012

        Oh, she’s just wonderful! She was one of the highlights of my first-ever con (Gallifrey One) this past February! 🙂

  20. CJJC  June 18, 2012

    Rutans are in this Tenth Doctor story:


  21. Paul Greaves  June 18, 2012

    “Me: You can count the number of female directors who worked on the classic series on one hand.”

    You can count the number of female directors who work on the NEW series on one hand too…

    In fact 5 female directors worked on Classic Who, compared to only 3 so far in the new series. And two of them have only done one story apiece, the other only two. At least Paddy and Fiona did four each. I know it’s still appalling but at least it’s not just the old series that can be implicitly accused of sexism 🙂

    I love Fang Rock and always have. Really glad Sue liked it, although I agree with Neil that knocking points off for dodgy effects is a bit lame by this point. Although I also agree with Sue that it’s… um… not the best monster ever.

    • John G  June 18, 2012

      When you consider that Who’s first producer was a woman, it is somewhat ironic that so few have been involved in senior creative roles in the show in the half century since. Paddy Russell really stands out for me as a Who director, not just because of her sex but because I consider all four stories she directed to be genuine classics.

      • Dave Sanders  June 20, 2012

        What, even Invasion Of The Dinosaurs?

        • John G  June 21, 2012

          Yes, even with the dinosaurs!

    • Lewis Christian  June 20, 2012

      By my reckoning:

      Helen Raynor = wrote 2 two-part stories
      Hettie MacDonald = directed Blink
      Alice Troughton = directed The Doctor’s Daughter and Midnight
      Catherine Morshead = directed Amy’s Choice and The Lodger

      • Dave Sanders  June 20, 2012

        Helen Raynor was also script editor.

  22. Neil Perryman  June 18, 2012

    For some reason, I mistakenly thought that the Rutans were in the Sontaran two-parter. My memory is almost as bad as Sue’s.

    • Lewis Christian  June 18, 2012

      We’ll forgive you for trying to erase that story from your mind.

    • Alex Wilcock  June 18, 2012

      I thought that would be it. I bet it was the gloopy Martha duplicate – we both assumed ‘Rutan’ on seeing her in the season trailer. And I don’t blame you either for not having watched it twice.

    • encyclops  June 18, 2012

      God, if only. That would have improved it (but so would anything).

  23. Dave Sanders  June 18, 2012

    You didn’t tell us about the tweeted Fang Rock row, what was that about? Just don’t come to blows during the next story, we wouldn’t want to see that physical contact has been made.

    • Neil Perryman  June 18, 2012

      We had a few words about knocking marks off for dodgy special effects…

      • Dave Sanders  June 18, 2012

        Um…. you do remember what’s coming up in four stories’ time? Or was that the preemptive strike.

  24. matt bartley  June 18, 2012

    YES! My very favourite story ever; and everything about it works – even the Rutan. Tom’s magnificently pissed off performance, Leela being more awesome than ever, everyone dying, the matte paintings (the ones in episode four of the breaking dawn are gorgeous), an atmosphere of utter dread that Doctor Who rarely manages and the final cliffhanger – hard to believe this was a thrown together at the last minute job.

    It’s all downhill from here, sadly.

    • BWT  June 18, 2012

      I’m afraid I have to agree here (in part). This is the one last proper hurrah of “proper Dr Who” as I grew up watching. Not much that came after it came close to this sort of stuff – and it’s a damned shame too.

      Stoked as I am with Sue’s evaluation and mark. I watched this only just the other day and thought it was bluddy good…

      • PolarityReversed  June 18, 2012

        Agreed. Decline from here on in, IMO. I’m only fond of another handful for the rest of Tom’s tenure, and really not very keen thereafter. The moment is approaching when I shall have to regenerate into the Occasional Lurker.

  25. John G  June 18, 2012

    “Because this wasn’t just sick. This was sick made from the finest diced carrots and petits pois, mixed with sun-ripened tomatoes from Tuscany, and smothered in a creamy, frothy bile laced with fresh sprigs of coriander. This wasn’t just sick – this was M&S sick.”

    Gross, Neil, gross – but very funny too! Glad to hear that Sue is returning to full health anyway.

    Like some other commenters, I was a bit surprised this got a 9 given that Sue was being quite tough on it. I’m glad it did anyway, as it is a classic claustrophobic thriller, and the last great Gothic tale of Tom’s era, as well as being the only really good story in an otherwise highly substandard, highly transitional season. The Rutan didn’t bother me, I have to say, and the story is yet another great showcase for Leela – why did it take Tom so long to warm up to such a well characterised and acted companion? There’s a nice performance from Colin Douglas too. I thought he was a bit wooden in Enemy of the World, but I have just started watching A Family at War on DVD and he is great in that as well.

    In terms of setting the overall tone for their tenure, I don’t think any Who producer has had a more misleading first (broadcast) story than Williams. I fear Sue may be in for a nasty shock with the next one, but who knows, she might just like the variety its very different tone supplies and the debut of a Time Lord’s best friend might keep her diverted to some extent from the worst excesses – that’s a big “might” though!

  26. Bryan Simcott  June 18, 2012

    I absolutley love Horror of Fang rock. Terrance Dicks is one of the best Who Writers ever (anyone who can fix Ambassadors of Death and get away with it is genius) .

    Neil; Show Sue the Cover to the Taget book. Superb image of Tom in his Bowler hat and it looks fine on him.

    I did wonder as reading through the comments that this was going to get 6 or 7 due to the poor Ending, and Sue didnt rate tom very well thinking him off his game, then says tom was great as usual and gives it a 9.

    Which i think is the right score if not a 10. But it didnt chime right.

    Hope Sue is feeling better, but pleae please never ever sign yourself out of a hospital. They dont keep you in for fun, and only do when its very very much needed. (yes I do work in the medical arena) And food poisioning can be very serious especialy the posh end of the market like M&S (seriously food poisioning can kill)

    • Neil Perryman  June 18, 2012

      Sue doesn’t see the Doctor’s fallibility as a flaw…

      • Dave Sanders  June 18, 2012

        Sue ought to get on well with Peter Davison then…

  27. PolarityReversed  June 18, 2012

    Liked this one – moody, claustrophobic isolated horror, Leela Warrior Princess. Don’t think it really deserved a 10.

    Glad to see someone else still refers to Bennies! (For the benefit of those who weren’t around at the time, it’s a reference to a dimwitted handyman in the unintentionally hilarious soap, Crossroads, who also wore that kind of woolly hat.)

    And Who, as so often, decades ahead of its time with laser eye surgery too…

  28. Wholahoop  June 18, 2012

    I’m confused, where did that nine come from?

    I was expecting a 5 at best whilst reading the commentary! Was Sue having a little fun at the expense of the We?

    Yet again you make me want to revisit this one, although the cliffhanger for Part 3 is ingrained in my memory as it stood out so well

    • Richard Lyth  June 18, 2012

      Picking the story to pieces then giving it top marks – looks like Sue’s finally become a proper fan! (Though she really should have waited till the next story before getting rushed to hospital, that would have been much more ironic…)

  29. Alex Wilcock  June 18, 2012

    I hope Sue continues to feel much better (and don’t give her prawns).

    She probably can’t eat them right now, but my favourite line was:
    “Why is the Doctor asking them to look for biscuits?”
    Well, I would.

    Glad that the cabinets gave this some extra marks – and, can’t say I’m surprised, the instant Hinchcliffe’s off the premises Sue’s no longer saying “Not for kids”. Shame. Though many might be surprised that a Terrance script gets “This is a bit deep for the kids”. My own review of Horror of Fang Rock explores the themes in detail: the Who story that’s most about social class (and how it kills you); sex (with Terrance’s very own explanation for why the sex in the script isn’t on the screen); and, yep, agreeing entirely with Sue that Skinsale’s a Tory – and the story’s most total git, for all that people seem to like him – as well as using that very fact to date the tale…

    • PolarityReversed  June 19, 2012

      I’m surprised we haven’t had more 1%iness on this story. Or, for the sake of easy maths, given 8 characters (including the Rutan), 12.5% or 25% if you lump the two together. There’s something gruesomely fascinating about pitting ruthless callous avaricious whip-hand against corrupt faded genteel privilege in the unpopularity stakes. Nobody survives, of course, apart from those that have to, for the sake of the show.

      And then we get that bloody dog…

    • Frankymole  June 22, 2012

      Ah but we all know that Tories are the bestest mates of the Liberals – and vice versa – these days, Alex! 😉

  30. Doctor Whom  June 19, 2012

    *(**This includes the Frogs and the Ruskies. He warns Vince that their friend’s soul will be very angry about this.
    Sue: So this guy is basically a superstitious racist?***

    Xenophobe, surely.

  31. Doctor Whom  June 19, 2012

    By the way, exactly what form of Political Correctness does Sue subscribe to which abhors using dismissive nicknames for foreigners but revels in taking the piss out of someone’s speech impediment? At least Reuben has the defence of being in character for an Edwardian.

    On the upside, Sue never used the “word” posh more accurately and fairly than about the god-awful Adelaide.

  32. DamonD  June 19, 2012

    Lovely Fang Rock. Immensely watchable and atmospheric, a very firm favourite.

  33. Marcus Scarman  June 20, 2012

    Great review for a great story, it’s always the one I wheel out for non fans and they always enjoy it. Used to have sideburns like that myself, a great pity Sue didn’t comment on them, hope she is feeling better soon. Oh, and stick to Morrison’s sandwiches in future won’t you.

  34. Dan  June 20, 2012

    The first story after the Hinchcliffe aeon ends, in Hinchcliffe style with Robert Holmes still in charge, and the ~first credit for John Nathan-Turner, as a sometimes bad but-not-nearly-as-bad-as-what-comes-after era begins. Am I the first to note the symmetry and symbolism here? Almost certainly not.

    It would be great if they made some Doctor Who in black and white. I appreciate it’s already been done.

    • PolarityReversed  June 20, 2012

      You could always watch them in B&W.
      And JNT? I’ve worked for an awful lot of companies where the wrong tea-boy rose through the ranks…. But that’s all to look forward to.

      • Dan  June 20, 2012

        When it’s *intended* to be in black and white, it makes all the difference. Though I was mostly joking..

        • PolarityReversed  June 20, 2012

          So was I – but not about JNT!
          Oh, and IIRC, Underworld was largely filmed in black and taupe, wasn’t it?

      • John G  June 20, 2012

        JNT’s appointment was in itself symptomatic of the fact that the show was already in decline, as nobody else at the Beeb wanted to touch it after the budget cuts and silliness of the Williams era. Mind you, I think JNT did pretty well in his first three years at least – that, however, is a discussion for another day…

      • Frankymole  June 22, 2012

        Or barrow-boy, in Amstrad’s case…

        • PolarityReversed  June 25, 2012

          Ah yes, what was it now, the “dead, finished, kaput” iPod? As opposed to the vibrant, thriving Amstrad PC or the Viglen marque.
          Genius. Have a knighthood. Then cash in on car-crash reality TV and start complaining about it when it impacts poorly on your image.

  35. gangnet  June 20, 2012

    People seem to miss the profound little moment that passes by unawares in “Horror of Fang Rock”, a canonicity that flies in the face of most fan wisdom on the point: ALL Gallifreyans regenerate, not just Time Lords.
    And my understanding (I could be wrong) is that it’s Gal-i-free but Gal-i-frey-ans. But in the end, I suppose it comes down, like so much else, to the TARDIS’ mood (and the Doctor’s) in how it’s translated mentally.

  36. Paul Mudie  June 20, 2012

    I hope Sue has fully recovered from The Horror of the Dodgy Baguette! 🙁

    It’s an odd one this. I feel I ought to like it more than I do, but I’ve always felt it’s missing something. I love the classic horror premise of a small group of people being trapped in a fog-bound lighthouse with a homicidal alien on the loose, but maybe it’s too much of a let-down when the alien is revealed to be a sentient blob of snot.