Monday, August 29, 2016

"The Talons of Weng-Chiang"

Aired Feb 26 - Apr 2, 1977

6 Episodes

Story 91

Written by Robert Holmes

Directed by David Maloney


The TARDIS arrives in London at the close of the 19th century, and the Doctor and Leela quickly become embroiled in sinister goings on. They are attacked by members of a Chinese tong, while innocent women are disappearing form the fog-shrouded streets.

The mystery seems to centre on the Palace Theatre, where impresario Henry Gordon Jago has employed Chinese stage magician Li H'Sen Chang for a long run. But Chang is much more than he appears. He is behind the disappearances, using his immensely effective powers of hypnosis to control the women. And his ventriloquist's dummy, Mr. Sin, appears to be both alive and assisting him.

The Doctor's investigations, meanwhile, involve seeking the aid of Professor Litefoot, the pathologist investigating a dead body found in the Thames. The corpse appears to have be mauled by a large unknown creature and the Doctor deduces that the creature is some kind of giant rat. He and Leela eventually encounter just such an impossible animal in the sewers beneath London, it having been created by someone unknown advanced science capable of  enlarging creatures.

Eventually, the Doctor uncovers the role of Li H'Sen Chang, and discovers that Chang is in service to what he believes is the embodiment of an ancient Chinese god Weng-Chiang. But Wneg-Chiang is in fact Magnus Greel, a despotic war criminal from the war-torn 51st Century. Using a dangerous form of time travel he has invented, Greel has journeyed back to the 19th Century, whereupon he lost the Time Cabinet that brought him here. The journey also severely damaged Greel's body, forcing him to absorb the life essence of others to survive. Greel's twisted nature means he prefers young girls to provide him with the essence he needs, and it's his experiments responsible for the giant rat in the sewers. His acolyte Mr. Sin is not a dummy, but is in fact a cybernetic homunculus with the brain of a pig.

Greel discovers that the Time Cabinet is in the possession of Litefoot, and he sends his men and Mr. Sin to retrieve it. The Doctor and Leela, along with Litefoot and Jago, arrive at Greel's lair to stop the criminal. During the battle, the Doctor manages to force Greel into his life force extraction chamber where the Butcher of Brisbane is finally destroyed. The threat from Greel may be ended, but the Doctor must still deactivate the berserk Mr. Sin, which he manages to do by ripping out his control circuitry. 

Bidding farewell to Jago and Litefoot, the Doctor and Leela head on their travels through time and space...

Monday, August 22, 2016

"The Robots of Death"

Aired Jan 29 - Feb 19, 1977

4 Episodes

Story 90

Written by Chris Boucher

Directed by Michael E Briant


Materializing on a desolate alien world, the TARDIS is scooped up by a massive vehicle roaming the planet for precious minerals. The sandminer boasts a small crew of humans bolstered by the aid of a support staff of robots. The robots exist in three classes, the mute and simplistic Dums, the more sophisticated and verbal Vocs, and a single Super Voc to oversee them all. As the Doctor and Leela arrive, the human crew are being murdered one by one by an unseen killer.

The travelers immediately come under suspicion for the crimes, especially in the eyes of the avaricious and petty captain Uvanov. As the bodies pile up, the Doctor is able to obtain two allies, both undercover government agents; the human Poul and his robotic associate D84, a Super Voc posing as a Dum. 

Together, they soon uncover the real culprit is one of the crew members, Dask, who is in fact the renegade mad scientist Taren Capel. Capel was raised by robots, and subsequently became the foremost expert on robotics before disappearing. Capel believes robots need to take their true place in dominance over the humans, and insanely regards himself as their brother and leader. He has been reprogramming the robots on board the sandminer to kill the humans.

The Doctor manages to trap Capel by offering himself as bait, allowing Leela to release a helium canister in the room that alters Capel's voice print to the point where the Super Voc SV7 no longer recognizes Capel's voice and therefore murders his master. This allows the Doctor to use a laser probe to destroy the Super Voc and end the threat from the robots.

With a rescue ship on the way, the Doctor and Leela depart in the TARDIS to continue their travels once more...

Monday, August 15, 2016

"The Face of Evil"

Aired Jan 1 - 22, 1977

4 Episodes

Story 89

Written by Chris Boucher

Directed by Pennant Roberts


The Doctor arrives on an unnamed planet and begins exploring a foreboding jungle. He soon encounters a tribe of primitive people called the Sevateem, first meeting an outcast warrior named Leela. The Sevateem worship a god named Xoanon, and upon meeting the Doctor they immediately dub him the Evil One, obviously recognizing his face.

The Sevateem believe Xoanon is being held prisoner by the Evil One and a rival tribe known as the Tesh, and have been mounting unsuccessful raids in an attempt to free their god. The Doctor is fascinated by the tribe's collection of holy relics, which turn out to be nothing more than remnants of high tech devices. The shaman, Neeva, speaks to Xoanon through a communications device.

The Doctor discovers he has been to the planet before, as evidenced by the fact that his face has been carved into the side of a mountain. On his previous visit, he repaired the computer of a colony ship, but his efforts involved downloading his own personality into the data core. Having forgotten to wipe his mind from Xoanon, the computer has now gone insane, suffering from multiple personality disorder.

The Tesh are revealed to be descendants of the mission's technicians, while the Sevateem sprang from the mission's survey team. The Doctor and Leela succeed in gaining access to Xenon's data core and repair the computer, rendering it sane once again.

As the Doctor prepares to go on his way, alone once more, Leela asks to come with him. It seems the Doctor has a travelling companion once more...