Number : Season 16, serial 3 of 6.

Which One : Killer stonesl 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 episodes.

Plot : The Doctor and Romana, visit an ancient standing stone circle, on a Cornwall moor; whilst looking for the third 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 third act – feels drawn out.

Review With Spoilers : The Stones Of Blood is the third Key-To-Time story, following The Ribos Operation and The Pirate Planet.

It’s a hark back to the darker, more gothic Hinchcliffe era; with a dark gothic, wierd local village and moor setting. Bringing in, stone circles, druid worshipping – and human sacrifice. Contrasting this, with the second half; which is 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, they are portrayed cleverly here to actually make them mysterious and threatening. With fleeting glimpses and shadow movements. 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 Doctor Who. That they could take a British cultural landmark – like standing-stone circles and give them a Doctor Who alien monster twist.

Just as proceedings get going, the story changes gear and 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 prison-ship. Include prison-cells, which house past featured monsters of Doctor Who One of the Androids from The Android Invasion is seen and even a dead Wirrn – from The Ark In Space.

It is, in this change – between gothic first half and sci-fi second half, that draw a nice contrast – in proceedings.

However, the fourth episode of the story does feel drawn out; as the story runs out of steam – at the end of episode 3.

“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 tone, in the 3rd episode; 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 episodes, The Stones Of Blood has to be commended for being a strong episode of Doctor Who; with some of the most inventive monsters, ever featured.

It’s interesting, watching how the writers “deal” with the threat of 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-out-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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