Turns out that if you combine Druidic Hammer Horror, Inter-Dimensional SciFi and a Courtroom Drama, you get The Golden Girls
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The Fourth Doctor, Romana (I) and K-9 head off to Earth, don’t you know, Cornwall specifically, to find the third segment of the Key To Time. Coincidentally it was around about the time of the production, but that doesn’t mean we can’t also have crazy nutbar druids trying to summon the goddess Cailleach at the local stone circle for undisclosed reasons.
Fortunately, in lieu of the authorities, UNIT or anyone else who might be worth calling in, Doc & Co are joined by semi-senile spark plug and Estelle Getty wannabe, Professor Rumford, and together they face off against a hyperspace renegade and her blood-sucking, solid-rock henchmen.
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The hits just keep on coming! Sometimes called a feminist story, which isn’t exactly true, this serial still stands out for having a woman be the local genius professor, though the cut rate Silverfinger makeup is a bit less impressive. Still, this story oozes atmosphere, with the ravens, the Celtic/pagan themes, the 70s horror vibes (the opening scene of campers getting attacked in their tent!!) and it is eminently rewatchable. The hyperspace scenes and the trial don’t work quite as well, but who cares, they’re still good fun. Great performances by all as well. Four point two.
In many ways, this story embodies classic Who as a whole. The Sci-fi both hard and fantastical, There’s a little mystery, a little psychic, culture, myth and more than one really great character. Although if you look closely at it, most of them don’t ultimately do much.
One interesting observation, if you discount k-9 then there are an equal number of female speaking parts in this story as there are male, more if you discount the Megara.
The Ogri are a surprisingly great monster. Seriously, I’m shocked that I like rocks as henchmen. The justice machines are utterly fascinating and they too earn a vote for a character I want to return in modern Who. I’d love the Ogri to return as well, but I wholeheartedly believe that new-who would just get them totally wrong.
Rewriting this retroactively, I’d pick up the pace and add more action. there should also be better connection between the Calliac and Cessaire. If she has all this power and has lived for so long, why is she just hanging around a stone circle on Earth in a bird suit? Why not use her power for…well… anything? Ultimately it’s irrelevant, but It would have rounded the world-building nicely.
Anyhow, I’m off to my alternate dimension to eat some lemons. Before I go though, Let me steal that pendant off your neck that I have no way of actually knowing is the answer to everything besides three scenes where you’re fondling it. 3.4
This deliriously absurd yet very entertaining story was the goddamn 100th story of the show.
The Megara Justice Machines are the best argument for treating Classic Who as merely a filmed stage play instead of a real television programme. They’re portrayed on screen with just some swirly, shiny effect that was probably made with a pinwheel and a blue screen, then badly matted. Their voices probably recorded just off-frame by two actors sitting on a stool in their bathrobes or something; being British, maybe they sipped tea during it too. The Megara Justice Machines are the best, seriously. This is what Who is about!
Having a standard horror movie plotline suddenly stop stone cold dead and turn into a courtroom “drama” sounds like a recipe for a goddamn disaster, but when it’s done with two judges that are cheesy swirly special effects, an evil alien lady wearing silver greasepaint as the witness and Tom Baker for the defense making jokes, it totally works.
The fourth episode of the 100th story of the programme, broadcast during the fifteenth anniversary week and how did they choose to mark it? They did the motherfucking show. No overhyped plotline about Daleks or Cybermen, no dumb multi-Doctor reunions where they stand around drinking punch and shaking the hands of every person who’s ever worked on the show, they just did the show and went with a balls-to-the-walls lunatic idea of a court-room scene for the entire goddamn episode, and it was goddamn fun.
What the hell is this?! A story about bloodthirsty stones and space law, that’s what! It’s a strange tale of two halves, you go in thinking you get a gothic-horror small English village story, but you end up with some strange space based legal case…. thing. Frankly the first half is more exciting than the second. Several unrelated points follow:
Twitter: “Twitter? Yes, it’s just Twitter. It’s aligned with various points on the horizon, giving you sunrise and moonrise at different times of the year.”
I didn’t rewatch this one as I got the boxset about a month ago and watched it then, but, I remember that this story features:
– A witch in dressed completely in silver
– A cult based on a Bird
– And a hyperspace courtroom drama with sparkling toclafane.
Setting that aside… this is definitely good!
– The characters in this story are (kind of) interesting.
– The stones moving around are cool I guess.
– The set of the Spaceship was very well designed in my opinion!
– Due to the budget, It would be very easy for someone to lose focus or not understand what was going on, but I guess that was just “Who Back… Then!”
– The silver witch person barely got ANY screentime or development.
This is a fun, exciting story with lots of things to love about it.
I’m giving it 4.0 discount toclafanes.
After a couple of stories which perhaps went a bit over the top on the comedy front, The Stones of Blood makes a move back to seriousness and a touch of the horror that we used to see in the Hinchcliffe era.
The first time I watched this story I was a bit wary of the Ogri, as they work well in the novel but could have failed miserably on screen due to poor special effects. As it turns out, they are a menacing enemy, and the scene where they refuel themselves on the campers would probably have given me nightmares if I’d watched this as a child.
The Megara are an interesting concept, and the trial of the Doctor gives Baker a chance to show off. It’s never entirely clear why removing the seals on their capsule is a capital offence though, or even why they are sealed in if they are not prisoners.
Professor Rumford and Vivian Fay are both excellent guest characters. I love how enthusiastic Rumford is about everything, and how she is willing and able to accept a lot of new concepts very quickly, as the only human who survives to the end.
The only downside is that Romana’s character is weaker than in previous stories, but she gets a fantastic one next time to make up for it.
Overall, a solid story which dips a bit towards the end, but is enjoyable nonetheless. 3.5/5
From the pages of my very own Doc Oho Reviews:
The Stones of Blood pretty much sums up Doctor Who perfectly; two parts creepy horror, one part glowing domestic drama and one part science fiction madness, lots of quality performances and even the odd duff bit. David Fisher bursts onto the scene with potentially the wittiest script in Doctor Who, crammed full of sparkling, imminently quotable dialogue that the actors savour. I can still remember one evening my mum came home after having a really bad day and she watched this story with me and laughed herself silly and went to bed singing its praises – and I can’t imagine a harsher critic of Doctor Who! It’s ridiculously entertaining throughout with some notable direction and effortless changes of tone. Matching the quality of the first two stories of the Key to Time season, this fun thriller isn’t even my favourite story of the year: 4.0
Rating: 3.1/5 sex crazed campers being eaten by killer stones. Ouch.