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The Fourth Doctor - The Talons of Weng-Chiang

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Author Topic: The Fourth Doctor - The Talons of Weng-Chiang  (Read 182 times)
Thascales
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« on: March 13, 2011, 09:28:21 am »

THE TALONS OF WENG-CHIANG
by Robert Holmes from an idea by Robert Banks Stewart



Starring Tom Baker and Louise Jameson.

Production Code: 4S

First Transmitted:
1 - 26/02/1977 18:30
2 - 05/03/1977 18:35
3 - 12/03/1977 18:30
4 - 19/03/1977 18:30
5 - 26/03/1977 18:30
6 - 02/04/1977 18:30

Quote from: The Discontinuity Guide
'I may have had a bash on the head, but this is a dashed queer story.' One of the great moments of Doctor Who history - an effortless conquering of the pseudo-historical genre with a peerless script. The story features another classic Robert Holmes double act, the theatrical Henry Jago and Professor Litefoot, although they don't actually meet until episode five, spending the previous episodes taking turns at playing Watson or Lestrade to the Doctor's Sherlock.
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Aneurin
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« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2011, 12:42:28 pm »

I really like this story. I think the acting is great and the story is on form. I have to be honest though, I do think that it is slightly overrated amongst fandom. It one of the better ones of the TB era, but there are lots more classics that I think are better that get little notice.
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« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2012, 06:01:41 am »

I have to agree with Aneurin here. I really liked this story, but it's overrated. Some racist connotations, but logic and plotwise, there's not much racist about it. I like Chang's death at the end. It's a great scene.
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Today, the Kaled race is ended, consumed in a fire of war. But, from its ashes will rise a new race. The supreme creature. The ultimate conqueror of the universe. The Dalek!
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« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2014, 09:29:22 pm »

I also agree. Don't get me wrong, I think it is a very good story, and I am properly slightly biased by the fact that I loved The Robots of Death that preceded it, and I don't think that Talons is in quite the same class. For one thing, Mr. Sin apart (and giving him a pig's brain so that he ends up oinking in a homicidal rage when trying to laser everybody was a touch of genius), I was underwhelmed by the villains. Even those who rightly point out the racism (and the racism WAS there, also in more subtle ways like when The Doctor says about the rifle "Of course it won't blow up. It was made in Birmingham!") tend to like admire Bennett's performance as Chang, but I found it worked better in some parts than others. The heavy "Oriental" make-up made his face almost expressionless, which worked well when he was trying to be spookily menacing, but was a hindrance in other scenes. He was also hindered by an accent as cod-Chinese as cod-Chinese accents get. The same goes for Magnus Greel -- I thought he was quite effective in full "Phantom of the Opera" mode early in the story, but later on, with his face fully masked, he instead struck unconvincing melodramatic poses and was no way near as frightening or menacing as Sutekh in Pyramids of Mars or as the Master in The Deadly Assassin. One interesting part of the story that perhaps they could have developed was their motivations. Unusually both Greel and Chang are given a bit more of a backstory than usual (as was Mr. Sin for that matter). Both might be considered to bear the burden of sunk costs: Greel has already committed such awful crimes for the sake of his Zygma experiments that he absolutely refuses to contemplate the idea that they were a failure, and similarly Chang has already committed similar crimes out of the belief that he is serving the God Weng-Chiang that he also refuses to entertain the idea (which I think he secretly suspects but cannot admit to himself) that he has been duped. Both are hoping beyond reason for a success that will retroactively justify the crimes they have committed in its name. I think that evil possibly happens often in this way.

Bits of the plot didn't make sense either. Why, for instance, instead of secreting Mr. Sin in the laundry basket so that he could open the door from the inside (which I'm not sure he could do being as short as he was anyway) didn't they just break in and steal the Time Cabinet there and then? Also, I think it is a bit slow in places. I'm not talking here about the small dialogue scenes, for instance between Litefoot and Leela, which are not only amusing but actually have a point to make, but rather scenes with out any dialogue that simply show characters getting from A to B where it is left to the score to carry the action along.

4/5 from me. Very good but doesn't quite rank among the best.
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