From 1977, "The Talons of Weng-Chiang" finds the Doctor (Tom Baker, the fourth actor to play the character in the series) and companion Leela (Louise Jameson) time-travelling via the TARDIS to Victorian London. Originally there to take in some theatre, our protagonists quickly run into trouble...
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Seems the local attraction at London's Palace Theatre, the magician Li H'su Chang (John Bennett) and his apparently autonomous stage dummy Mr. Sin (Deep Roy), are somehow connected to a series of disappearances involving young women. Turns out the two, with fellow members of the Tong of the Black Scorpion, are taking the women to somebody claiming to be the ancient god Weng-Chiang.
With help from the local Medical Examiner, Professor Litefoot (Trevor Baxter) and theatre owner Jago (Christopher Benjamin), the Doctor and Leela quickly discover that "Weng-Chiang" is really another time traveler from the future, who's using the women to somehow stay alive. But what's he been working on down in his hideout deep in the sewers?
Fans of Arthur Conan Doyle, Sax Rohmer, George Bernard Shaw, Gaston Leroux and Gilbert and Sullivan, as well as fans of the Doctor, will get a kick out of this six-episode serial, in color and on videotape, and its very obvious influences and in-jokes. The cast, writer Robert Holmes and director David Maloney don't let their appreciation for the background material get in the way of the story's dynamics. Lots of suspense and horror (and humor) here, especially in the sewer sequences.
Extras on this three disc (!) DVD set include audio commentaries, interviews and archival BBC featurettes on the series. This'll keep any fan of the Doctor busy for a while.
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