Number : Season 15, serial 3 of 6
Which One : Time Lord’s bogeyman 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 episodes.
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 exposition/explanation. Poor third act – doesn’t resolve the story well.
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 concept and the overall story, forward. Neither, does it provide the explanations required; for the viewer – to understand and unveils a pretty flabby third act; for it’s finale.
The Fendahl, were a dangerous lifeforce sucking worm-like creature; which inhabited the fifth planet – in the Gallifreyan system. Aeons ago, due to the danger that the Fendahl posed. Time Lord’s “time-locked” the planet, to prevent their spread; across the universe and Gallifrey.
The Fendahl, then went down in Time Lord lore; as a bogeyman-monster, described to naughty Time-tots. However, some kind of living Fendahl energy – did escape and made it’s way to Earth; where it settled within – (or created) a prehistoric human-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 (or we – as the viewer) doesn’t need a full explanation, as to it’s origin. Just the gist, so I can fill in my own blanks. Is the skull, an actual Fendahl skull? Or a Time Lord? 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, which are still (today) well-designed.
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 frighten – even the mighty Time Lords.
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