Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Doctor Who Image of the Fendahl |
Actors: Tom Baker, Louise Jameson
Director: George Spenton-Foster
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Television, Cult Movies
Studio: Warner Home Video Release Date: 09/01/2009 Run time: 95 minutes Rating: Nr
"What are you exactly, some sort of wandering armageddon ped
Crazy Fox | Chicago, IL USA | 09/20/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Elaborately balanced between horrific and comedic, "Image of the Fendahl" comes in near the midpoint of Tom Baker's tenure as the Doctor, a justifiably classic phase of the series when those responsible for its making seem confident but not complacent that their efforts will entertain a wide segment of the BBC audience. That is, while a bit murkier and edgier than prior years, this is still "Doctor Who" as the quintessential family show--somehow working on several levels at once. On the simplest and most tangible level we have big slug-like monsters (and, this being the olden days before CGI, I think we should stop a moment and appreciate the inventive craftsmanship that endowed them with a mouthful of squirming writhing tentacles). On an equally thrilling if less visceral level, we have a finely-scripted tale of suspense and mystery. On yet more sophisticated levels yet, all of this is framed and informed by a complex and intriguingly speculative science fiction premise of astronomical scale spanning eons--which might feel overly remote if it didn't all come to a crisis within the familiar context of rural England in the 1970's. And yet all these levels cohere in harmony rather than jarring and grating with each other, which takes astounding storytelling skill if you think about it.
It seems natural to characterize this story as the last gasp of the so-called "gothic" tendency seen in the show in the mid-70's. Certainly this is apt in that for all intents and purposes "Image of the Fendahl" follows the plot logic of a good horror story (in some ways it rather reminds me of John Carpenter's 1987 film "Prince of Darkness", in fact). It also works the old reliable "Doctor Who" alchemy of reinterpreting standard horror motifs in a science fiction idiom: the pentagram is a "neural relay", the inability to move as something wicked approaches (a prototypical nightmare) is due to some sort of psychic force, a pinch of salt to ward of evil works because sodium chloride "prevents control of localized disruption of osmotic pressures" and so on. For all that, though, this story is somewhat atypical. In such beloved classics as "Pyramids of Mars" and "the Brain of Morbius" and such, the scientific technical interpretation straightforwardly replaces the supernatural one, utterly displacing and invalidating it--a well-intended nod anyway to the show's original mandate to encourage an interest in science (and history) among its younger viewers. Here things are not so simple, however. The premodern, pre-scientific, indeed pre-Christian manner of explaining these phenomena, especially as they are articulated by the local wise woman/"witch" Martha Tyler, are portrayed not as backwards, ignorant, and wrong but merely as different, as an alternate frame of reference every bit as functional when the Fendahleen are slithering towards you down the hall. You know things are getting weird when the Doctor reels off three mutually-conflicting explanations for what's happening as if all three are equally valid and equally invalid. That's surely eccentric even by the Fourth Doctor's standards. But for those of us who suspect that a little epistemological doubt is healthy, it's also rather refreshing.
Multiple levels of significance and sophistication would mean little if not for the wonderfully varied cast of characters we have here though, all of them saved from the brink of stereotype and brought to life by impeccable acting of the first order as well as a superb script sensitive to the finer points of characterization. One actually cares what happens to them, and that's the ultimate sorcery that makes or breaks a tale."
My Favorite Classic Episode of Doctor Who
Matt Harnick | 07/07/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"During the Tom Baker years, Doctor who took a very dark turn. This period has given us such chilling stories as "The Horror of Fang Rock" and "The Talons of Weng Chiang". "Image of the Fendahl definitely falls into this category and has the same spooky atmosphere. Even if the story is a bit far fetched, the execution of the effects in light of the restrictive budget of the time makes this episode a classic and one I have waited for on DVD with great anticipation. I'm fairly sure that it was also the very first episode I ever saw and it was the one that got me hooked for life. One of the more interesting aspects of this episode is its attempt to explain the occult significance of the pentagram and the classic fear of the number 13 in "scientific" terms. Again, this episode is not for the feint of heart (at least as far as youngsters are concerned)."
A story on how man might fundamentally view himself
Daniel J. Hamlow | Narita, Japan | 09/13/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The story starts out with the examination of a skull found in the volcanic sediment in Kenya. Thea Ransome's potassium-argon test shows the volcanic sediment to be 12 million years old, but Dr. Adam Colby cannot accept the evolutionary implication of the skull: "What I don't accept is that Eustace here got himself buried under a volcano at least eight millions years before he could have possibly existed." The two and Maximilien Stael are colleagues of Dr. Fendelman, a scientific genius who made it big in electronics and who is using a sonic time scanner on the skull. His discoveries could fundamentally affect how man views himelf.Their experiments with the scanner plays havoc with the TARDIS, which is drawn to the grounds near Fetch Priory, where the team is based. The Doctor and Leela not only become involved with the happenings there, including a mysterious death, but with Jack Tyler and his elderly grandmother, who has precognitive powers. She and many of the villagers of Fetchborough believe in the old ways of superstition and magic. Logic has no place in her life but more human nature. "When most people believe what's said, that make it true." Jack says "Most people believed the earth was flat when it were round." She counters with, "Ah, but they behaved as if it were flat," emphasizing the word "behaved".What Dr. Fendelman is unwittingly tampering with involves a creature from the Doctor's own mythology that began when a planet between Mars and Jupiter exploded. Unless the Doctor can stop them from messing with dangerous things, the population of Earth will go down from 4 billion people to 1 person.There's a great deal of horror/suspense in this story, from the hiker walking in the forest at night, the eerie churning sound when the skull begins to glow, and the air of crisis described by Colby at one point. "The phone is cut off, the place is surrounded by guards, we are beset by a wandering lunatic, we have a pair of corpses on our hands, and on top of all that, the telephone seems to be very dead. We are trapped."Tom Baker is at his usual goofiness. He asks a bunch of cows upon landing, "Which one of you has the time scanner?" Another time, they are hiding outside the Priory and espy a guard and a dog.Leela: I shall kill him.
Leela: Why not?
Doctor: You'll upset the dog. He also offers a jellybaby to the skull and even goes "Alas, poor skull" a la Hamlet. Here, Leela sports a lighter tan outfit that shows more cleavage and has her hair, of a more reddish tint, in a bun. "Don't worry, Doctor. I shall protect you." she says and does.What really struck me about Wanda Ventham (Thea) was that rigid, stone-faced look of someone being possessed. It's very reminiscent of Elizabeth Sladen's reaction on feeling her soul leaving her body in the Who story Planet Of Evil. She has a stab at doing Dr. McCoy: "I'm a technician, not a human paleontologist." And this is one of Denis Lill's greatest TV moments as the misguided but persistent Fendelman, someone who is a passionate adventurer in unlocking mysteries of human evolution. Daphne Heard is quite a character as the superstitious, headstrong, but also kind Ma Tyler. The dialogue between her and her grandson show an argumentative but loving relationship.Goofs: The Doctor mentions two victims, naming one of them, even though he hasn't been told the name. Another is a scene in Episode 2, when he is locked in a cupboard. The sonic screwdriver doesn't work, yet later, the lock outside is heard unlocking and the door swings open. Who let him out?A mixture of science and the occult, this is the closest Dr. Who got to the horror genre."
X-FILES BEFORE THERE WAS AN X-FILES
W Mianecke | Rochester, NY | 07/16/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A fond fave from Tom Baker's run. Well-acted, chilling stuff. Juicy dialogue, fun interactions between characters, and nice ways of working around a limited budget. The plot concepts are intriguing, too. The Doctor addressing the cows is one of my favorite scenes in all WHO. Recommended!"