A nicely-cast, simple Terrance Dicks story kicks off the 15th Season of Doctor Who. Robert Holmes was sticking around as script editor as new Producer Graham Williams took the reins. As a four-part Doctor Who story it ticks most boxes. Terrance Dicks knows how to get down to it and churn out a decent story quickly from his time as script editor, and ‘The Horror of Fang Rock’ was a last minute replacement to a different story he had written involving vampires.
|Tom Baker and Colin Douglas atop the lighthouse.|
‘Fang Rock’ is set almost entirely inside a light house, where the occupants get locked inside with a killer alien, which turns out to be a Rutan, the aliens locked in war with the Sontarans. The Rutan is presented as a green blob with tails, and looks good at times and at other times the special effects don’t work at all – such as when it is crawling up the outside of the lighthouse.
|Most of the cast.|
The cast is brilliant – Colin Douglas as Reuban (who becomes the Rutan) leads them outstandingly, with John Abbott as the likeable Vince Hawkins, Alan Rowe as Skinsale and Sean Caffrey as Lord Palmerdale. The only annoying character is Annette Woolette’s Annabelle, who just doesn’t stop screaming and crying. This works well against Leela who is annoyed at her as much as the viewers no doubt are!
|The Rutan climbs the stairs|
It’s a simple, claustrophobic setting done well save a few shots of the Rutan, an obvious model ship crashing on the rocks and the space ship flying through the sky which is particularly unimaginative as a simple red splot. It’s moves well considering limited space and characters, and was no doubt a money saver for the BBC with its simplicity. It’s typical Paddy Russel direction, strong with the actors, dialogue and character work (which is the basis of the story), but weaker on the special effects.
The Doctor and Leela are fantastic in this one, very strong characters both, taking control of the situation. A little bit of light and dark for the Doctor, mostly serious. Stylistically, there’s not a lot difference from this to a Hinchcliffe-produced story. But you wouldn’t expect it. Dark and moody, great characters, a story where only the Doctor and Leela survive. Yes, the guest cast has a 100% mortality rate in ‘The Horror of Fang Rock’.
A good start for Williams as Producer, a solid story that doesn’t really hit the brilliance of the previous couple of years, but nevertheless is a great tale.