Written by David Fisher and Sydney Newman
Directed by Darrol Blake
Doctor Who is a British science fiction television series which has been around off and on since 1963. The main character is just known as “The Doctor” and is a Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey. This means he travels through time to various places. One of his favorite places to visit is Earth. Typically, he has a companion traveling with him, usually female, sometimes male, sometimes one of each. He travels in a time machine known as a “Tardis” which is disguised as a British Police booth.
A Time Lord can regenerate if fatally wounded, which has accounted for all the different actors who have played The Doctor throughout the years. In this episode, he is portrayed by Tom Baker. Baker was one of the most popular incarnations of The Doctor, and by many fan’s assessments, he was the most popular.
In The Stones of Blood, the Doctor is traveling with an assistant ostensibly on an almost equal playing field. Romana (portrayed by Mary Tamm) is a fellow Time Lord, although not of the stature of the Doctor. They are also traveling with the robotic “dog” known as K9. They are searching for something known as The Key to Time and journey to Earth in search of the third of six parts to this device which will allow the use to control time throughout the universe.
Upon landing, the Doctor and Romana are hot on the trail of the section of the Key when they happen upon some mysterious impressions in the ground. They are intrigued, especially when they happen upon some locals who are studying a stone circle similar to Stonehenge. Professor Emelia Rumford and her assistant, Vivian (portrayed by Beatrix Lehmann and Susan Engel) speak of “The Nine Travelers” and tell of a discrepancy in the stone count between surveys as well as blood sacrifices made at the site.
When Romana is pushed over a cliff seemingly by the Doctor, the two figure out that someone has found the third part of the Key which has the power to transform objects or at least their appearance and is using it. Romana is kidnapped by an alien spacecraft that dispenses justice and is searching for an intergalactic criminal hiding out on Earth. The Doctor must then defend himself to this machine after being charged with intergalactic capital crimes.
If it sounds like there is a lot going on in The Stones of Blood, there definitely is. This is one story arc that I felt could have used another episode as there were too many side-bars and pieces of the story that needed to be fitted together. There was an overall rushed feeling to the story, especially during the last two episodes, as if everything had to be crammed in.
However, The Stones of Blood is a good story. It takes things on Earth that have been mysteries for ages and assigns an explanation to them and builds the story very nicely from there. The characters are very well fleshed out. Both the Doctor and Romana act in a way I expected them to with nothing too outrageous going on. The Doctor keeps his cool under pressure and Romana is likewise even-tempered in the face of these new alien machines or their human/alien nemesis. The new characters are also well-rounded. Even with the problem of so much going on, they handle their portions of the story well.
There is plenty of the usual dry humor, such as when the Doctor is commenting on Romana’s choice of shoes and says “I’m no fashion expert” to which she responds “No.” He doesn’t even acknowledge this parry back at him which leaves me wondering if he didn’t catch the jab back at him or chose to ignore it. I think the former. But it is that sort of witty exchange which takes place here. You won’t find any laugh tracks or overt pauses in the conversation where the actors are looking for a laugh. To find those moments viewers must pay attention.
The special effects are the usual cheesiness, which is also part of the charm of the series. If you are the type that must be convinced by the effects and feels the need to pull apart any discrepancy, this series isn’t for you. While much of The Stones of Blood takes place on Earth and in real settings, thus minimizing the use of alien settings, there are a few moments such as with the alien justice machines when the effects are much needed. This sequence probably is the hardest part of the story to swallow, and it would seem that even Tom Baker had trouble getting a handle on how to carry the scene opposite the machine which looked like mutant disco balls.
However, the story is good overall, even if I feel that there is too much going on at times. The mystery is somewhat predictable but still fun, and the actors seem to be enjoying it. The guest stars do a bang-up job and having the story set on Earth is also a plus. I hadn’t seen any of the stories in the Key to Time series, but so far I am enjoying them quite a bit, and this one is as good as the others I have viewed.
• Information Text
• Commentary with Director Darryl Blake and Mary Tamm.
• Photo Gallery
• Who’s Who