Monday 13 February 2012

448 The Talons of Weng-Chiang Part One

EPISODE: The Talons of Weng-Chiang Part One
TRANSMITTED: 26 February 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)

At a Victorian theatre a cab driver arrives enquiring of Theatre Manager Henry Gordon Jago and his star hypnotist & ventriloquist Li H'sen Chang as to the whereabouts of his wise. The Doctor & Leela arrive nearby, intent on visiting the Theatre. The taxi driver is murdered by the ventriloquist's dummy, Mr Sin, who is moving by himself and the Doctor & Leela attacked by a group of Chinese workers. A policeman arrives and takes the Doctor & Leela into custody along with one of the men attacking them. Li H'sen Chang is called in to translate but when left alone he gets the man to commit suicide taking scorpion venom. Jago finds blood on the hands of Mr Sin. An autopsy is organised allowing the Doctor to meet pathologist Professor Litefoot and gets to see the mutilated body of the taxi driver. The Doctor finds evidence that the man was killed by a giant rat. The Doctor is assaulted by another Chinese man in the street who Leela kills. They venture into the sewers where they are confronted by the giant rat.

Ah, Victorian London. Jack the Ripper, Sherlock Holmes, pea soupers. An ideal setting for a Doctor Who story and it's amazing that, bar a visit to a Victorian Country House, that Doctor Who hasn't visited this era & setting before. (The Gunfighters is set just eight years earlier, but that takes place on the other side of the world). Throw in some Chinese gangsters and a few disappearing women (we're back to the Ripper again) and away we go.

Cast time: as Li H'sen Chang we have English actor John Bennett disguised in make up. He was previously General Finch in Invasion of the Dinosaurs. I've just seen him this week in a 2004 New Tricks! His "dummy, Mr Sin, is played by Deep Roy, later to appear as the Posicarian delegate in Mindwarp, the second section of Trial of a Timelord. He's best known now for being the Oompa Lumpas (all of them) in the 2005 film Charlie & the Chocolate Factory. Christopher Benjamin, as Henry Gordon Jago, was previously Sir Keith Gold in Inferno, and appears in the new series as Colonel Hugh in The Unicorn and the Wasp. Finally, making an on-screen appearance for the first time, Dudley Simpson, the series regular composer, appears as the Conductor.

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