Doctor Who #492: The Stones of Blood Part 3

"Pow. Pow. Pow is a technical expression, Professor. It means that all the microcircuitry will fuse into one great urgh of molten metal."
TECHNICAL SPECS: First aired Nov.11 1978.

IN THIS ONE... After escaping the Ogri, the Doctor goes to hyperspace to save Romana, but is cornered there by "justice machines" and Vivien Fay herself.

REVIEW: The story kind of falls apart in Part 3. When my notes are full of questions about plot holes, inconsistencies and the like, it's a sure bet I wasn't enjoying myself very much. For example, how can the Doctor name the three Ogri from Ogrus? Are there only three? I know Gog and Magog are from the Bible, but what's the connection to celtic stones? Why do the Ogri need people to pour blood on their little shelf when they can obviously go out and strip the flesh right off people's bones? Should K9 be up and running already? And should his nose laser really act as a forcefield? I'm also mystified by the idea that hyperspace is said to be impossible, when the ships in Frontier in Space worked on that basis (a technology we'll also see in the future). The Whoniverse clearly has FTL travel, after all.

But perhaps I was put in a critical state of mind by some of the dialog and performances. Vivien Fay (or whatever she wants to call herself) has every right to be over the top - an alien criminal who's been acting the goddess for thousands of years - but I really hate her for it. It's too much and pulls me right out of the story so I can roll my eyes and sigh. While K9 and Romana had a nice thing going in the previous episode, here the Doctor just shouts at his know-it-all dog a lot, and it's irritating. Emelia continues to be the one to watch, exasperating the Doctor with her foolish bravery, as when she decides they should try and capture an Ogri. It's really too bad the Doctor never went back to make her a companion.

What saves Part 3 is all the eye candy. Ok, maybe not the Atari-style graphics (above), though that has a certain nostalgic charm, but there are a lot of visually exciting moments. The Doctor playing matador to force an Ogri off the cliff is right out of a cartoon, but it works. The Ogri attack on poor, hapless campers - horrific! The ship in hyperspace isn't so impressive a model, but the way the Doctor is fitted into its windows, and how the aurora borealis hyper-sky can be seen through them from inside are. I really like the effect for the Megara, sprites that bubble in size in time with their speaking. They're a particularly crazy idea in a story about evil druids, but there you go. We also get some neat cameos by past monsters, now dead husks in the ship's cells, like the Wirrn, and what appears to be an android from The Android Invasion. Amusingly, the Doctor pulls out a sonic screwdriver to just smash a lock. And for the 'shippers out there, the Doctor and Romana hug each other to stand on the X that should return them to the stone circle.

The Doctor tells Professor Rumford he's not from outer space, he's from "inner time". Being facetious, I'm sure, but can we make sense of the comment? If only Antony Read's tenure hadn't included The Invasion of Time, with Time Lords acting like border guards and the Vardans and Sontarans both attacking with spaceships, we might have been able to conclude that Gallifrey isn't in normal space at all, but somewhere outside it, inside time itself. Whatever that would mean.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - Enough fun elements that you can safely switch your brain off and let the plot holes pass you by. The smug villain is a real drain though.



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