Rewatch Doctor Who: Image of the Fendahl

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Rewatch Image of the Fendahl

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Servorobot
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Dedicated thread to the great rewatch of Image of the Fendahl.

What do you think about the story?
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shuzbot
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Have we started already?
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shuzbot wrote:Have we started already?
Whenever you want.

You have all weekend to watch and comment.
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I’ll start the ball rolling.

I must have been thinking about this story like iank because I’d watched it two days before Ian chose it as the first rewatch.

A pretty good, creepy story, slightly let down by some iffy effects. Ratcheting up the Gothic horror elements so common in this period and don’t we all just love that sort of thing.

The hikers death at the beginning of the story is particularly creepy, as is the scene where the Doctor is trying to get his legs to work.

Sadly the realisation of the Fendaleen is somewhat disappointing, but the rest of it (the glowing skull etc) is pretty good.

Daphne Heard steals the show as Mother Tyler and Scott Fredricks seems to be warming up for his Blake’s 7 role.

The rest of the cast is really good as well, Edward Arthur as Colby seems to think he’s still at RADA and playing to the back stall. Nothing wrong with the performance, just a bit of a Kenneth Branagh delivery.

Bennie Batch’s Mum is unrecognisable from her previous well known roles due to her dark wig, but she comes across sympathetically, although she wanders around waving her arms a bit in the last episode.

Sadly this was Chris Boucher’s last contribution to Doctor Who before he went off and wrote some of the best later Blake’s 7 episodes (including the best one of all), but all of his Doctor Who stories are classics.

That’s my initial thoughts, now it’s over to everyone else.
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It's got Wanda Ventham in it - nuff said :D
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Well that was fun, if somewhat hokey and at least in my case, since it was taken from a video, not the best quality.

Still...I guess this is another bit of Hammer Whorror, what with glowing skulls and a lady in a floaty dress doing interpretive dance at the climax. And let's be honest, the script is almost a wee bit Moffaty in its complexity, with a time rift, a time scanner, a planet blown up a while back and now trapped in a time loop (or something), a skull whose resemblance to homo sapiens isn't actually explained as far as I could tell (like who let the Doctor out of the broom cupboard), the Doctor and Leela saying they will be late when they have a time machine - yes, I know this happens a lot, so sue me but it's always irritating ... a gestalt that is made of cute little cobras with fluttery paper and the aforemntioned Medusa like woman whose eyes you mustn't look at, except sometimes. And they're vulnerable to one of the commonest elements in the universe, a bit like the Triffids in the 1950s film.

So, what's to like? The Doctor is superb, being all alien and eccentric and whimsical except when he's serious, Leela is a suitable foil, clever and sharp and dangerous, pledging to protect the Doctor and saving him once or twice (but not every time like Rose bloody Tyler). The German scientist starts out a bit stereotyped, with his murky background in rocketry, like we don't know what that generally means although he's a bit young to be Werner von Braun, but he comes good and his death is quite horrifically casual. Adam is a bit irritating but generally does the necessary action hero bits, although his immediate acceptance of the existence of Time Lords is a teensy bit unlikely and he doesn't seem too cut up about Thea, with whom he appeared to be an item, turning into a thing-from-Greek-Myth-come-giant slug. Unfortunately Max is no Roger Delgado, and his delivery of lines about becoming a God and looking forward to Adam's terror is about as scary as John Simm's Master, i.e. the necessary layer of icy evil has sadly been missed out. Meanwhile Jack and his grannie are also being very good in a countrified Midsomerish sort of way, going on about the old ways and making tea like they've escaped from The Daemons, and even the guy who came to cut the grass was quite fun.

So it's a bit hokey and the monsters are a bit naff, and everyone wears the obligatory rent-a-robe-or-floaty-dress for the scene in the basement (where else) with the pentagram (what else), and there is some bad acting - though not terribly much - and in places there are holes in the script, and everything is solved by a big explosion... What's not to like?

Plus the script made me laugh out loud in places, and I do mean in a good way. Plus I liked the way the sonic didn't work on the door...! And oo-er, the Doctor falling on Leela was a teensy bit risque, for Who, as was her dress. (And what was all that embarrassment about not finishing sentences at the end? Should they be shipping or something?)

So. Not exactly a classic, in my humble, but certainly an initially intriguing, and mainly very entertaining story (if perhaps half an episode too long - the climax drags a bit).
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The beginning and end scenes with K9 in the Tardis jar with the rest of the story and are very childish - a sign of things to come.

But overall a very entertaining story.

Mother Tyler: ere just a minute! that ain't the way to make a fruitcake!
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Factoid. The chap,who played the hitch hiker went on to set up a travel business. Made millions and, and at one stage, owned Watford FC.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graham_Si ... sinessman)

My wife is working tomorrow, manning a coronavirus helpline for our sainted NHS, so I’ll watch it and comment tomorrow..
J'aime Le Chameau Orteil.
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Black Orchid wrote:The beginning and end scenes with K9 in the Tardis jar with the rest of the story and are very childish - a sign of things to come.
Yes, those strangely stilted conversations about whether one should be gendering K9 and the TARDIS and the "I like your new dress" exchange (so, a sex change and an exchange?) seemed bolted on from someone who couldn't write decent dialogue...

Still, if I remember correctly the first scene featured the ultimate special effect, beloved of the original "Lost in Space" - tilting the camera. We can't fault that!
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Having had a night to reflect, this is one of those stories that leaves you with a warm glow*, either it's the nostalgia kicking in, the effort the cast are putting in, the charisma some (most) of the actors bring to their parts despite having to adopt outrageous accents / chew the scenery / waft around striking silly poses, or it could be the often witty dialogue, the corniness of the Hammer-ish plot, sets and monsters, or the rather silly resolutions to the first cliffhanger - Leela ducks, and Tom runs away ... or ... did I mention nostalgia?

My other half has put a finger on it (after my enthusiastic ramblings, I watched it on my own, not wishing to provoke hilarity of the wrong kind and/or divorce proceedings) - "it's like the school play which turns out to be surprisingly good because everyone gives it their all, rather than an expensive production where you have high hopes and feel let down..."

Quite.

*This may jus be a temperature, I could be catching a cold in sympathy with Leela having to run around those misty woods in skimpy outfits while Tom gets a hat and scarf (and even takes a nap in the woods at one point - no time to lose, indeed!)
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What you really mean Liz is that it had a decent, engaging story.
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Servorobot wrote:What you really mean Liz is that it had a decent, engaging story.
Yes, I think I said something like that, it was a fun story with decent characters, some great dialogue, the Doctor and Leela both on good form, and all round enjoyable. That doesn't mean I'm going to ignore the faults that knock it down from 10 to maybe 7 or 8/10 (that's on the classic Who scale, obvs, on which Chibnall's stuff doesn't even register).

The story was a bit too convoluted - apparently even the Doctor couldn't work out what was going on. I don't mind that per se, but when the audience is given a load of dangling threads that appear to have just been forgotten, it's less satisfying - so there was something about blisters on people's necks, there was an exploding planet hidden by the Time Lords, a bit of astral projection, someone mysteriously releasing the Doctor, the Fendahleen who can form the Fendahl by gestalting even after some of them have died, or maybe they can't? ... the eyes you can't look at, although some people seem to be able to and remain unaffected...

But I don't really mind those minor details. It's only Doctor Who, as someone once said. However, I'm less sanguine about what's pushed as the main mystery getting sidelined (that sort of thing is irritating because the writer is breaking the implied agreement with the audience - see "The Waters of Mars" and fixed points in time for further details).

Unless I missed something, which is quite possible, there was never any explanation given for the introductory mystery, of which much was made to start with, but it was then quietly brushed under the carpet as far as I can tell - how could a human skull be dug up that was 12 million years old, long before homo sapiens evolved?
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LizR wrote: Unless I missed something, which is quite possible, there was never any explanation given for the introductory mystery, of which much was made to start with, but it was then quietly brushed under the carpet as far as I can tell - how could a human skull be dug up that was 12 million years old, long before homo sapiens evolved?
I think the idea was that the skull was that of the Fendahl, which was humanoid (unlike the maggoty Fendahleen), and arrived on Earth after the 5th planet was destroyed, which was before homo sapiens evolved. The suggestion, as I understood it, was that mankind's evolution was influenced to make it compatible with the Fendahl's dress size.

I do think those painted-on eyes were a mistake, though.
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LizR wrote:
Servorobot wrote:What you really mean Liz is that it had a decent, engaging story.
Yes, I think I said something like that, it was a fun story with decent characters, some great dialogue, the Doctor and Leela both on good form, and all round enjoyable. That doesn't mean I'm going to ignore the faults that knock it down from 10 to maybe 7 or 8/10 (that's on the classic Who scale, obvs, on which Chibnall's stuff doesn't even register).

The story was a bit too convoluted - apparently even the Doctor couldn't work out what was going on. I don't mind that per se, but when the audience is given a load of dangling threads that appear to have just been forgotten, it's less satisfying - so there was something about blisters on people's necks, there was an exploding planet hidden by the Time Lords, a bit of astral projection, someone mysteriously releasing the Doctor, the Fendahleen who can form the Fendahl by gestalting even after some of them have died, or maybe they can't? ... the eyes you can't look at, although some people seem to be able to and remain unaffected...

But I don't really mind those minor details. It's only Doctor Who, as someone once said. However, I'm less sanguine about what's pushed as the main mystery getting sidelined (that sort of thing is irritating because the writer is breaking the implied agreement with the audience - see "The Waters of Mars" and fixed points in time for further details).

Unless I missed something, which is quite possible, there was never any explanation given for the introductory mystery, of which much was made to start with, but it was then quietly brushed under the carpet as far as I can tell - how could a human skull be dug up that was 12 million years old, long before homo sapiens evolved?
It was an alien skull that helped guide human evolution down the ages - nicked from the plot of Quatermass and the Pit.
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StarQuake wrote:
LizR wrote: Unless I missed something, which is quite possible, there was never any explanation given for the introductory mystery, of which much was made to start with, but it was then quietly brushed under the carpet as far as I can tell - how could a human skull be dug up that was 12 million years old, long before homo sapiens evolved?
I think the idea was that the skull was that of the Fendahl, which was humanoid (unlike the maggoty Fendahleen), and arrived on Earth after the 5th planet was destroyed, which was before homo sapiens evolved. The suggestion, as I understood it, was that mankind's evolution was influenced to make it compatible with the Fendahl's dress size.
Aha, that makes sense, especially given the preponderance of humanoids in the Whoniverse. Although, the fact that it was so exactly like a human skull that even experts couldn't tell the difference is, as the Doctor would say, quite a coincidence. Still, that does at least make sense within the context of the story.
StarQuake wrote:I do think those painted-on eyes were a mistake, though.
Yes, I remembered those from the first time around as a bit of a fashion faux pas.
Black Orchid wrote:It was an alien skull that helped guide human evolution down the ages - nicked from the plot of Quatermass and the Pit.
Hmm, yes, the only trouble with these things that guide evolution is that you can only really sensibly have one of them, otherwise they'd all be arguing over which way to go - black monolith urgnig apes to design spaceships vs satanic apparition over London vs a woman in a floaty dress... where will it all end? The f*cked up species we know and love, I guess.
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Just finished watching. I would've watched yesterday, but I work in care and ended up doing a double shift til late.

Have to admit, I've never been a fan of Image Of The Fendahl and this latest rewatch hasn't altered my opinion.

I find it very convoluted with an in-depth back story. But, told in parts, the back story feels more interesting than the resolution we see on screen.

I also find some of the characters - particularly Adam Colby (bit of a toff) and Max Stael (this story's obvious bad guy) - extremely annoying. The first scene in episode one involving them together, okay it's scene setting, but I find it toe-curling. Much prefer Scott Fredericks involvement in Day Of The Daleks. I find his performance here rather underwhelming.

On the plus side, I actually quite like the adult Fendahleen in a weird way, and enjoy the arrival of the creature in the corridor at the end of episode 3. And a special mention to the beautiful little owl in Granny Tyler's house, whose fee demand was obviously so huge they could only afford it for episode 2. I also like Leela's reaction to Jack Tyler saying she tells some whoppers. Leela beams like she's been paid a huge compliment.

The setting is great, the misty woods and the hiker are terrific. I'm a massive fan of the Gothic stories, but overall this one always leaves me cold. It's not out and out dislike. There are some really good moments in this story but I think it's just that when I watch it, I'm left with the impression that, given some tweaks, 'Image' could and should have been so much better.

Is there a possibility that Chris Boucher had envisaged this script as a 6parter and had to lop back a lot of the explanations of his ideas when it became only 4? If only he'd written the novelisation and fleshed out that back story.
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rapscallion wrote: Is there a possibility that Chris Boucher had envisaged this script as a 6parter and had to lop back a lot of the explanations of his ideas when it became only 4? If only he'd written the novelisation and fleshed out that back story.
Not according to the In-Vision for this story, it states that Holmes had to get two scripts ready in short order with little scope for rewrites due to time and budgetary constraints and that he selected Boucher cos the Robots of Death scripts had been delivered in workable order and good time.

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George Spenton-Foster's direction is mostly good. I like the night time filming which they should have done for Pyramids of Mars.

I like the story and the concept of the Fendahl as unfathomable evil, but I just feel Tom's performance is too muted as he doesn't have somebody like Sutekh to bounce off. All the deaths occur off-screen (thanks, Mary Whitehouse :roll: )
which makes it feel slightly tame compared to some of the earlier stuff. I'd give it a 7 out of 10.
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shuzbot wrote:I like the night time filming which they should have done for Pyramids of Mars.
Ah definitely! Night filming of Tom Baker carrying the wounded Doctor Warlock through the woods and hiding from the mummies would have been truly atmospheric.
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Why was he called leaky anyway? :lol:

I hope he escaped before the house blew up!
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