Thursday 16 February 2012

451 The Talons of Weng-Chiang Part Four

EPISODE: The Talons of Weng-Chiang Part Four
TRANSMITTED: 19 March 1977
WRITER: Robert Holmes
DIRECTOR: David Maloney
SCRIPT EDITOR: Robert Holmes
PRODUCER: Philip Hinchcliffe
FORMAT: DVD: Doctor Who: Revisitations Box Set - Volume 1 (The Caves Of Androzani / The Talons Of Weng-Chiang / Doctor Who - The Movie)

The Doctor uses a gun from Litefoot to repel the rat allowing them to escape. Returning to Litefoot's house Leela relates her story to the Doctor who recognises the organic distillation process used. The Doctor examines the "Puzzle Box" again, and the label their foe as "Weng Chiang" after the Chinese God. The Doctor & Leela leave for the theatre where they enjoy an evening's entertainment while waiting for Chang. When he comes on stage he selects the Doctor to participate in a trick involving cards and a gun. He is then called to the stage. Mr Sin infiltrates Litefoot's house in laundry basket. The Doctor participates in a Cabinet of Death trick but makes a fool of Chang by escaping. Chang gets his assistant to participate instead but when the cabinet is opened Jago's assistant Casey is inside dead. Chang's master has tired of him, sabotaged the trick and deserted him. The Doctor finds Chang in the underground lair. Chang tells the Doctor that "Weng Chiang" appeared in a blazing cabinet of fire. He nursed his ill visitor but soldiers took the cabinet. Chang escapes into the sewers but runs into one of the giant rats, his screams echoing through the tunnels. The Doctor, Leela & Jago find the clothes of the missing girls but notice the organic distillation machine has gone. The Doctor thinks he was injured using the cabinet which has destabilised his DNA matrix. With the aid of a number of Chinese thugs Mr Sin abducts the "Chinese Puzzle box", Weng Chiang's Time Cabinet, from Litefoot's house....

After three episodes of not really caring this one clicked a bit better for me. And once again I have no idea why! Sometimes you watch an episode and it ticks your boxes, other times it doesn't. Possibly it's down to a feeling that the story is finally going somewhere....

Christopher Benjamin, as Henry Gordon Jago, has generally portrayed an annoying character throughout the story. *BUT* put him on stage as the compère in the Palace Theatre and he comes alive and works. Music hall was once common throughout Britain and while Talons of Weng Chiang, and indeed most of Doctor Who, was airing the BBC ran a series called The Good Old Days celebrating the Music Hall style with current performers. The compère was Leonard Sachs who was Admiral de Coligny in The Massacre and will be back as the third Borusa in Arc of Infinity.

The making of this story was covered by a documentary called Whose Doctor Who which included a number of clips from older stories. Bar Blue Peter slots, this was the first dedicated program to look at the series and how it was made. It's available with this story in Doctor Who: Revisitations Box Set - Volume 1.

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