Number : Season 15, episode 3 of 6
Which One : Timelord’s bogeyman-snake makes a reappearance on Earth.
Cast : The Doctor : Tom Baker
Leela : Louise Jamison
Dr. Fendelman : Denis Lill
Max Stael : Scott Fredericks
Thea Ransome : Wanda Ventham
Adam Colby : Edward Arthur
Martha Tyler : Daphne Heard
Jack Tyler : Geoffrey Hinsliff
Ted Moss : Edward Evans
David Mitchell : Derek Martin
Hiker : Graham Simpson
Written By : Chris Boucher.
Produced By : Graeme Williams
First UK Broadcast : 29 October – 19 November 1977.
Length : 4 x 25 minute parts.
Plot : Earth Scientists have been performing experiments on a prehistoric human skull and accidentally release the power of Fendahl.
Whats good : Thea Ransome becoming the Fendahleen core. The Fendahl. The Fendahl’s background.
Whats bad : Badly paced episode. Vague and weighty plot; offering little explanation. Poor third act.
Review With Spoilers : Image Of The Fendahl is – potentially speaking, one of the best Who’s and could occupy a place within the best episodes from the Hinchcliffe era.
It doesn’t quite make the grade though and that’s mostly down to a plot which seems clueless on how to move the story forward. Neither does it provide the explanations required, for the viewer to understand and unveils a pretty flat 3rd act – for it’s finale.
The Fendahl were a dangerous lifeforce sucking worm-like creature, which inhabited the fifth planet in the Gallifreyian system. Aeons ago, due to the danger that the Fendahl posed. Timelord’s “timelocked” the planet to prevent their spread across the universe and Gallifrey.
The Fendahl then went down in Timelord lore, as a bogeyman-monster described to naughty Time-tots. However, some kind of living Fendahl energy did escape and made its way to Earth, where it settled within (or created) a prehistoric skull.
“I think it’s the Fendahl. It grows and exists by death. The Fendahl absorbs the full spectrum of energy, what some people call a life force or soul. It eats life itself!” The Doctor
The skull is then excavated and then experimented on (unwittingly) by human Scientists, who unleash the power of the Fendahl on themselves.
But it’s never confirmed who – or what the skull was/is, or where it came from. The Doctor only confirms that the skull carries the living energy of the Fendahl.
I don’t need a full explanation as to its origin, just the gist – so I can fill in my own blanks. Is it an actual Fendahl skull? Or a Timelord? Or is it a living embodiment of what the Fendahl represent to mankind? Etc…
Anyway, by far the most memorable turn in Image Of The Fendahl is Dr Rhea (Thea Ransome) and her transformation into the “Fendahleen Core” (the “bond” to allow them to return) a kind of elaborate gold Medusa look, with painted eyes on her eye-lids. It’s effectively creepy and works alongside the (still) horrible look of the Fendahl worms – themselves.
The third act falls a bit flat, after a great build-up to the returning Fendahleen and for such a powerfully mythical creature they are beaten rather easily by the Doctor.
Image Of The Fendahl lacks only in the setup and conclusion, which is a shame because the Fendahl themselves, are great monsters in Who. Monsters that even frighten the mighty Timelords.