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A loony old trout helps prevent a golden sun goddess from sucking the life out of the world with her Gestalt band of space worms

A humanoid skull has been found by a small group of scientists and they’ve brought it to England to carry out some further research and to see if everything we know about our evolution needs to be thrown out of the window. As every scientist knows, you do your best work in an isolated priory that is surrounded by misty woodland, and this bunch have found the most fitting example to date.

When the skull begins to glow in the dark and a chap mysteriously dies in said woodland, they exhibit admirable resolve and power on. Alas, their experiments seem to be tied to an ancient alien race from Gallifreyan mythology, and one of their ranks is being turned into a golden death goddess. Good thing Doc and Leela, sans robot dog, are there to throw salt into the wounds.

Here's what we think of C094 Image of the Fendahl

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken


Jim | @jimmythewho


Here's what we think of C094 Image of the Fendahl

We rate Doctor Who stories on a scale from 0.0 to 5.0. For context, very few are excellent enough to merit a 5.0 in our minds, and we'd take a 0.0 Doctor Who story over a lot of other, non-Whovian stuff out there.

Leon | @ponken


Jim | @jimmythewho


Here's what you think 10 Responses to “C094 Image of the Fendahl”
  1. Paul Fauber | @wordsmithpaul

    ‘Image of the Fendahl’ is Tom Baker’s darkest DOCTOR WHO story since Phillip Hinchliffe produced. Fendahleen, alien monsters with deadly, psychotelekinetic powers, looked like serpentine versions of horror writer H P Lovecraft’s ancient, fictional god, Cthullu. His stories detail how knowledge of fictional mythology cause madness. In this story, the Doctor needed Leela to help him survive his living nightmare and save humanity from Armageddon.

    Millennia ago, Time Lords didn’t destroy the Fendahl, which haunts them and prepares to kill. At a haunted priory in haunted woods, an impossibly old skull revived the Doctor’s nightmares and drew Thea Ransom as her scientific team scanned a hole in time threatening the Earth. The story focused on the skull until the Doctor arrived asking about deaths.

    Most, like Max Stael’s suicide and Doctor Fendahlman’s murder, occurred off screen. Some victims became embryo Fendahleen the Doctor immediately recognized. Despite being the only person knowing what was happening, he was briefly imprisoned after giving orders I find his inability to take the situation over refreshing.

    Wise woman Martha Tyler didn’t understand her dream visions of Thea, the Fendahl, “the one who kills,” victimizing Stael’s coven. Their ceremony encased her in gold and unleashed her. Once the Doctor discovered the Time Lords kept their failed attack against the Fendahl secret, he raced to Earth’s rescue as time ticked rapidly away.

  2. Kristaps Paddock | @PaddockND

    The nostalgia factor here is high, but not quite high enough to give this a great rating. Tom Baker went Hammer horror several times, but this stands above its contemporaries in how far it went. The old house, the scientists probing topics best left alone, the skull with a pentagram on it, and above all the 70s witch goddess form of the Fendahl, all lend to a spooky, if one dimensional atmosphere. The Fendahleen look a bit crap, and the vulnerability to salt is a tired trope. Classic behind the sofa Doctor Who, but doesn’t hold up to rewatching. Three point four.

    “Fendelman? Man of the Fendahl? I have been used. You have been used. Mankind has be uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuused!”

  3. Phil Salter

    Anyone who can fully and properly expain all the plot twists and turns of this story is a cleverer man than me. This time the Doctor and Leela meet Dr. Fendelman aka Dr. Plotdeviceman or Dr. Moustacheman. For reasons of plot device he’s linked to a skull that’s older than it should be which is the origin of man, but is also the remnant of the Fendahl who takes over Sherlock’s Mum? I’m sorrry WHAT?! Several unrelated points follow:

    Leela’s new costume is on display here and it’s….. well there’s not much to it
    This story is very much the last gasp of the gothic-horror style of story, at least until State of Decay
    It’s blindingly obvious they were not expecting K9 at time of writing, with his slight appearance. Still it’s better than Kamelion (oh you’ll LOVE him)
    This is the first job Wanda Ventham did after giving birth to Benedict Cucumberpatch!
    A confused story with a whole lot of atmosphere, fairly good but far from the top so it’s a: 2.3

  4. Michael Ridgway | @Bad_Movie_Club

    Mini reactions

    Episode 1
    • Hello Leela’s dress.
    • Leela threatening to garrotte the guy from the council.
    • Good double barrelled cliffhanger – Leela vs a shotgun, and the Doctor vs The Evil Dead.

    Episode 2
    • I’m sorry, Leela’s dress is a massive distraction to this entire story. I’ve no idea who these scientists are, what they are doing, and why World War 1 service revolvers are standard issue.
    • Trivia: Kenya does indeed have very olde skulls and the Kenyans are very proud of them.
    • Leela wears a similar coloured garment when she briefly teams up with the Seventh Doctor in Dimensions in Time.

    Episode 3
    • Horrifically unnecessary execution. Like the poor UNIT bloke’s encounter with a compost machine in ‘Seeds, humans murdering humans is more disturbing than monsters killing humans.
    • Day of the giant worm Triffid!

    Episode 4
    • Like: Medusa Lady who turns people into baby worm triffids.
    • Beef: why are the giant worm triffids so super easy to kill?
    • Farewell Leela’s dress.

    Summary: I vaguely recall something about a skull, worms, Medusa Lady, the mad-as-a-box-of-frogs Gran, and the costumes.

    2.6/5 giant worm triffids paralysed with distracted by Leela, resulting in a salty death.

  5. Nick aka The Doctor

    Hi Guys…last minute submission again (nothing like a deadline)

    This one is a definite grower. It starts fairly slow but as the intrigue of the 12 million year-old skull begins to unwind, so too does the story excitement. We learn that there has been some interference of the Fendahl with human evolution (how many races have done this in other stories and did they know about each other?!). Even more intriguing is the connection to Gallifreyan legends. The scientific explanation behind the Fendahl energy doesn’t seem to get explained well enough, but nevertheless the idea keeps the interest. Characters. Tom, great, Leela, getting better all the time – I think she is one of my favourite companions thus far. The young scientist , ok. Max, slightly maniacal, but seems to redeem himself. Fendahlman – typical tapped scientist who prioritises his discovery over wiping out the entire human race. What’s not to like? Thea is the nicest one, but she turns into an omnipotent monster in a pentagram. Like the Horror of Fang Rock , you don’t seem to find out much about the enemy until right at the end. A story featuring a Dalek or Cyberman threat would have been revealed at the end of ep 1 normally, but I like this way with one off foes. Not sure about the paper mache triffid thing adding to the story…It’s a good serial though…3.0 from me.

    As always, loving the pod!



  6. Daniel aka Doctor in Waiting

    Leon & Co,

    Sorry missed the last couple of shows have been away in Africa and then working hard.

    Will catch up on the shows, have only got as far the “lighthouse” urban dictionary definition. Oh how I laughed and oh how my good lady was unimpressed.

    So it’s a short review to get it in on time.

    The images of fendahl, a fan favourite maybe, a favourite of mine definitely!

    A mad scientist, an evil scientist, a reasonable scientist, a beautiful scientist, the wise woman and her yokel son are a fine supporting case.

    I love the concept of evolution going up a blind alley and the destruction of the fendahl as the explanation of the asteroid belt in our solar systems.

    The serial is a fine hammer horror romp, yes okay I not sure the monster can do my co more than shuffle at you and waves it’s tentacles but it can freeze in you place, in simplified manner than made the Angel in Blink so threatening. I’m sure you and Jim will discuss the science and uncover it as nonsense but I thought it was great.

    Leela and the Doctor have some great interaction with the cast and between each other. Leela does look stunning in this alternative outfit however having her original leather costume and wearing her hair down was much more fitting to her savage background.

    Four tentacle monsters out of five!!!!!

  7. Peter Zunitch

    There’s a fun stylictic feel to this story that carries an otherwise lackluster plot. It’s not bad, it’s just not wonderful. There are many missed opportunities here, especially in character development.
    On the plus side, we see a return of someone being able to write for Leela and the Doctor is enigmatic yet serious. The star of the show however is Mrs Tyler who rightfully enchants any scene she is in. Ted Moss a decent follow up, but doesn’t make the same impact. Fendhalman is interesting with an almost split personality. The biggest missed opportunity however is Thea Ransome. who plays her part so well, yet we’re treated to so little of it. Why didn’t they delve into the relationship she has with Stael? They also gloss over the uneasy friendship the two have with Coby, and the delicate respect and fear they share for Fendahlman. Even the monster of the week doesn’t do enough to become truly significant. After that it’s mood or it’s blah.
    Finally this story joins the ranks of those that literally neglect to include some important moments in the final edit. The ending of part 1 is choppy, there’s leaps of faith with no explanation and I’m sure I don’t have to mention part 4’s scene in the Tardis.
    It seems to me that there must have been a tremendous time crunch on this one, because there’s this overtone of brilliant dynamics which is met by an equally astonishing amount of neglect. I should love this one, and I really want to, but again this is one of those rare stories where I have trouble watching all four parts without nodding off. I really do hate that I feel this way, but this story is mediocre at best. I give it a, “Does Leela always spontaneously sleep on the floor of the console room?” 2.3

  8. Joe Ford, Doc Oho Reviews | @docoho

    A cold and clinical tale that is all the scarier for it, Image of the Fendhal trades in atmosphere and ideas but still has time to build an impressive guest cast. The Doctor and Leela get some great scenes but are practically peripheral to the story. You can count on Chris Boucher for intelligent dialogue and a fresh slant on old ideas and he provides one of the richest concepts in terms of the evolution of mankind here. Bonus points for Old Ma Tyler ‘ ‘E’re! That aint the way to make a fruit cake!’ A very solid 4.5 from me.

  9. Andy Parkinson

    My feelings for this serial are massively influenced by the fact that this is the first VHS story I ever bought over 25 years ago, thus reigniting my love of Doctor Who.
    I love the story, combining sci-fi with the occult and a dash of horror, it’s one of my favourite serials. Daphne Heard as Mrs Tyler pretty much steals every scene she’s in, and her interaction with the Doctor is great as he clearly respects her knowledge. I know her role is kind of a trope of old woman who has occult powers I absolutely love her! The Doctor yet again is on great form with lots of funny lines like “Good morning, ladies. Now which one of you has the time scanner, hm? ” (to the field of cows)
    Wanda Ventham is great especially when she finally gets her Goldfinger moment as she transforms in to the Fendahl. However it’s a shame she was made to wear a black wig to play the character as it was felt at the time no one would accept a blonde female scientist!!
    The Fendahleen aren’t the greatest monster costume you’ll see on classic Who, but I admire the concept.
    While this is by no means a perfect story it’s one I rewatch again and again, so whilst accepting my nostalgia for it, it’s just such great fun to watch.
    I award this story 4.5 loony old trouts out of 5

  10. Colby’s line that the ‘skull created man’ holds the clue to the story. The developing human species had been shaped in the ‘Image of the Fendahl’ through the bio-transmutation field; hence the skull appeared to be 12 million-years-old and human. We were utilised as a host animal.

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