David Fisher enters the Doctor Who fold with the first of two stories that featured in the sixteenth season. ‘The Stones of Blood’ was the 100th overall Doctor Who story, and featured a strange but very effective mix of horror and science fiction. It’s perfectly cast and well directed and continues the improvement of season 16 over season 15.
The idea of rocks that move was always going to be one that was hard to convey without it look completely stupid, and the effects team, featuring Matt Irvine, thankfully found a way that worked without dressing people up to look like big rocks.
|Campers killed by an Ogri|
Very thankfully. In fact the rocks look really good and are well shot, but I have no idea how they were made to move – I presume they attached wheels to the base and pushed them along or something. Shots of the stones moving were also kept to a minimum, always the safest way to go.
|The delightful Beatrix Lehmann.|
Beatrix Lehmann as Professor Amelia Rumford spearheaded the guest cast. In fact the cast was very small, but you don’t notice it at all. Besides the Doctor and Romana, only Rumford and Vivian Faye feature in all four episodes. We have Mr De Vries and his wife who get killed around episode two, and the Megari, the justice machines in the last two episodes who are just a floating specialeffect which speaks. Apart from the Ogri – the moving stones, that is all the characters of note in the story, save the two campers who foolishly put their hands on a stone and get their blood sucked out.
|Vivian Fey is quite the bird!|
Beatrix Lehmann is wonderful. She seems to stumble over her lines at times but it just comes across as part of her character. Vivian Faye is played by Susan Engel who does a superb job – she is covered in silver paint for half the story and she certainly shines! (sorry about the joke!) Interestingly, Honor Blackman was approached initially to play the role but declined. That WOULD have been interesting!
Tom Baker shines brightly too in this story, especially in the scenes where he is defending himself against the Megari. He dons a little wig and is very eloquent indeed. This part of the story is set in a hyperspace vessel sitting, in a different dimension, just above the stone circle in a field somewhere. The sets are rather good, and the location is perfect.
|It's Miss Fey!|
The story does, however, suffer from being shot on OB (video). The whole look is very ‘matte’. In fact a lot of the outdoor stuff doesn’t appear to quite in focus. The idea of not shooting it on film is to give the story a uniform look, unlike the previous story, ‘The Pirate Planet’, however it still struggles to match up with the studio look and doesn’t have the definition of film. Strange that I prefer the jarring of going from film to video and back to all shot on video, but I do. Of course, the best solution would have been, in my opinion, to shoot the whole thing on film. However that would have been too expensive.
|The Doctor defends himself to the Megari.|
I enjoyed this story a lot, but not as much as ‘The Ribos Operation’. I’m not sure how else to explain giving it a slightly lower score. I really enjoyed the way we are suddenly in a space ship in another dimension when the whole story appeared to be going along a clear route. It’s an awfully clever, witty, scary and well-cast story.