Thursday, 11 August 2011

Image Of The Fendahl (Part Four)

Originally Broadcast 19th November 1977
Written by: Chris Boucher

I’m not entirely sure what to make of the final episode of this serial, as part of me feels as if it was a bit of a let down. Mostly it consisted of the Doctor and co finding a lot of salt and destroying the monster, when we had a great build up and some good three episodes.

Tom Baker and the rest of the cast did shine through the episode, however, with Tom getting to do his zany impressions again, which are always great fun to witness. Sadly some of the best guest stars have passed on by this episode, meaning the cast got smaller, so we didn’t have as many stories to follow, which is what made the low-budget cost of this serial work so well previously.
One thing that I’ve said didn’t work well at all previously, was Spenton-Foster’s transitional shot, but he puts the same shot in here as Wanda transforms and it’s such a fantastic, inspiring shot. I think this has gone down as one of the iconic images of Who, as it’s really something to see, although sadly only lasted a few seconds.

Daphne Howard is a good actress to look out for, she quickly emerges as a favourite in this story, as she’s quirky and easy to spot. She’s great as she takes all the ‘nonsense’ of monsters and lucky charms in her stride, which is a nice change for Who rather than characters refusing to believe and the script forcing them into denial.

Something else that works well is one of the characters committing suicide rather than being taken over by the Fendahl. It works, as it’s quite powerful, despite us not actually witnessing it on screen, as it’s Doctor Who and it’s 1977, we’re not going to see someone shoot themselves, yet it’s really effective.

There’s two surprising occurrences for our regulars in the final episode as well, which actually works well.
The first, for the Doctor, is taking the shotgun without a second thought, as there’s always this debate about the Doctor not using weapons. He’s informed it only contains rock salt, but after he’s already stolen the gun with force.
The moment for Leela is when she kisses Adam on the way to exiting the scene, I was quite surprised when I saw that, but at the same time it works. I think the reason it took me by surprise is that I could picture most other companions of the time doing this more than Leela, as she just doesn’t immediately strike as doing that. It’s worth noting that it didn’t feature in the script.

The final scene, on a final note, is the last scene, which feels so awkwardly hashed together and just doesn’t work in par with the rest of the story. The big problem with it is, is that it feels like the entire thing was adlibbed, especially by Tom Baker. A terrible, terrible final scene, and not quite as powerful a final episode, but overall I’ve quite enjoyed this story.
Last piece of trivia for the story, is this was Robert Holmes’ final story as script editor, who’s worked in that position since Baker’s opening series. Luckily Holmes would return to script another five (and a half!) stories.

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