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 Amelia 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. Sharp and snappy Professor Rumford makes a good counter-point companion to the Doctor for a while.

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.

Amelia Rumford makes a refreshing counter-point to the Doctor. Someone not impressed or over-rawed by the Fourth Doctor’s intelligence or superiority. Indeed, their shared scenes are hilarious, as she holds her own against the Timelord.

The Stones Of Blood 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 – and 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  Pertwee era.

🔵🔵🔵🔵⚪ (4/5)

Old Doctor Who

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