Saturday 18 February 2012

453 The Talons of Weng-Chiang Part Six

EPISODE: The Talons of Weng-Chiang Part Six
TRANSMITTED: 02 April 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)

Leela is overcome by "Weng Chiang's" chloroform. He speaks with the Doctor who uses the Trionic lattice to bargain with him for him to be taken to the House of the Dragon so that Jago & Litefoot can be released. A recovering Leela follows them. When they arrive the Doctor tells "Weng Chiang" that he has been to his time, and gets him to admit that he is Magnus Greel, the butcher of Brisbane. The Doctor tells him his experiments were a failure. He is reunited with his friends but Mr Sin attacks them with a laser cannon hidden in a statue and they are imprisoned. Greel uses the retrieved Trionic lattice to reactivate the time cabinet. Leela attacks Greel but she too is captured and placed into the chamber Greel uses to absorb life force. Using a sabotaged gas pipe the Doctor creates an explosion allowing Jago, Litefoot & himself to escape. The Doctor rescues Leela from the machine, but Mr Sin opens fire on them again. Greel is shot at by Sin and ends up being thrown into the machine by the Doctor & drained. Mr Sin attacks them but is overpowered by the Doctor and deactivated. He then destroys the Trionic lattice rendering the Time Cabinet useless & no further threat. The Doctor & Leela take leave of Jago & Litefoot who watch them enter the Tardis & dematerialise.

Let me see if I get this straight: Mr Sin, because Greel won't let him kill the Doctor, suddenly looses it and opens fire on everyone? Bwah? Yes there's been hints he might be a bit unstable but this is a huge dive off the deep end . And, correct me if I'm wrong, doesn't the Doctor throw Greel into the machine which drains his life energy? There again the Doctor was probably not expecting that to happen because not five minutes earlier he threw an axe at the machine, seemingly crippling it and allowing him to rescue Leela. Yeah that's a little bit of a mess and a rush, obviously hoping we'll look the other way while the action happens. And oh look, there's the Doctor turning his pockets out *AGAIN*. Seen that routine a couple of times now.

Talons of Weng Chiang is a huge fan favourite story. Even Liz loves it, barring the casting of an English actor John Bennett as the lead Chinese character Li H'sen Chang and *that* Giant Rat, which I don't mind. However the story has never really grabbed and watching it again episodically I'm still not feeling any great love for it.

This completes three years of Tom Baker as Doctor Who taking him past, in terms of time, William Hartnell & Patrick Troughton's tenures as the Doctor. Jon Pertwee did five years but at the moment all three are ahead of Tom in terms of episodes.

This story is the last for two members of the behind the scenes personnel. Producer Philip Hinchcliffe leaves as of the end of this story, bound for the troubled new series Target. Target's creator, and intended producer, Graham Williams moves the other way becoming the producer of Doctor Who alongside Robert Holmes, who had intended to depart the script editor's role but was persuaded to stay on.

It's also the last story directed by David Maloney, who'd been involved with the series since Patrick Troughton's last year directing The Mind Robber, The Krotons, The War Games, Planet of the Daleks, Genesis of the Daleks, Planet of Evil & The Deadly Assassin before this. He went on to produce and direct for the BBC's new science fiction series Blake's 7 and produced the BBC version of Day of the Triffids. He died in 2006 aged 72.

Talons of Weng Chiang ends the 14th (1976/7) season of Doctor Who. During the summer one story from it, The Deadly Assassin, was repeated on Thursdays from 4 to 25 August at 6:20pm.

Talons of Weng Chiang was novelised in a rather slim volume by Terrance Dicks. It was first released on video a compilation volume in Australia in April 1987 and then in the UK in 1988. It's one of three stories that were released as a compilation video not to have an episodic release: the other two are the Seeds of Death & The Time Warrior. It was first released on DVD on 28th April 2003 and was re-released on 4th October 2010 as part of Doctor Who: Revisitations Box Set - Volume 1 with The Caves Of Androzani and Doctor Who - The Movie.

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