Number : Season 16, episode 3 of 6.
Which One : Killer stones circles.
Cast : The Doctor : Tom Baker
Romana : Mary Tamm
K9 Mk-II : John Leeson (voice)
Professor Rumford : Beatrix Lehmann
Vivien Fay : Susan Engel
De Vries : Nicholas McArdle
Martha : Elaine Ives-Cameron
Written By : David Fisher
Produced By : Graeme Williams
Produced By : Graeme Williams
First UK Broadcast : 28 October – 18 November 1978.
Length : 4 x 25 minute parts.
Plot : The Doctor and Romana visit an ancient standing stone circle, on a Cornwall moor; whilst looking for the 3rd part of the Key-To-Time.
Whats good : The standing stones – as monsters. The moor setting. The contrast of the two halves of the story – from bleak moor setting to futuristic courtroom.
Whats bad : The change in pace and tone – halfway through, won’t be to everyone’s liking. The last part feels drawn out.
Review With Spoilers : The Stones Of Blood is the 3rd Key-To-Time story, following The Ribos Operation and The Pirate Planet.
It’s a hark back to the Hinchcliffe era, with a dark gothic moor setting. Bringing in stone circles, druid worshipping and human sacrifice. Contrasting this, with the second half; which is largely studio based and set on a hyper-space prison spaceship.
The standing stones themselves, take centre stage – quite literally; by being the alien monsters themselves, called Ogri – who “eat” human blood.
It sounds ridiculous to imagine huge boulders attacking people, to harvest their blood. However, it is portrayed just the right way here; with fleeting glimpses. Infact, the image of the Ogri bursting through the door of a house to attack someone; is chillingly memorable.
To some, the Ogri might look ridiculous but it has to stand as testament to the charm of Who, to take a British staple – like standing stone circles and give them an alien monster twist.
Just as proceedings get going though, the story moves away from the ‘on location’ moor setting, to a prison ship in hyperspace; where the Doctor is forced to stand trial by a justice computer called – The Megara.
Some nice touches on the prisonship, include; prison cells which house past monsters. One of the Androids from The Android Invasion and even a dead Wirrn from The Ark In Space.
It is in this change – between gothic first part and sci-fi second part, that draw a nice contrast in proceedings. However, the 4th part of the story does feel drawn out; as the story runs out of steam – at part 3 end.
“I always thought that druidism was foundered by John Aubrey in the 17th century as a joke. He had a great sense of humor, John Aubrey.
There is a nice change down in the 3rd part, where the Orgi take a backseat, to the true villain of this piece; Cessair Of Diplos and to some degree – the Megara for threatening to kill the Doctor.
For the first 3 parts, The Stones Of Blood has to be commended for being a strong episode of Who; with some of the most inventive monsters ever featured.
It’s interesting, watching how the writers “deal” with K9; by having him smashed up by the Ogri, whilst trying to defend the Doctor so that the Doctor can’t use K9 – as a “get-put-of-jail-free” card.
Some good touches in this, include the druid/sacrifice folklore angle; which underpins the horror of this story. The Ogri work well – and the Cessair’s weird crow costume is a bit unsettling.
It could maybe have carried on the moor story setting, to its conclusion; which was the much more effective part of the adventure. The 4th part is dragged out – when the story could have been wrapped up sooner.
That said The Stones Of Blood perfectly captures the quaint Britishness of Who, unlike any other Key-To-Time episode and in some ways – harks back to the previous Pertwee era.