Doctor Who
Horror of Fang Rock

Starring: Tom Baker
BBC Worldwide
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: U
Available 17 January 2005

The Doctor lands the TARDIS near a lighthouse at the start of the last century - a navigational error on the way to Brighton - only to discover that the crew of the newly installed electric beacon are being picked off, one by one, by a strange alien presence. Things turn from bad to worse when a passenger ship is wrecked on the rocks, providing more victims for the shape-shifting killer...

Horror of Fang Rock uses a simple plot device - similar to the people trapped in a lift cliché - to create a sense of claustrophobic tension that is gradually racked up, notch at a time, with each successive murder. The sense of foreboding is further enhanced by the Doctor's seeming inability to grasp the meaning of the unfolding events. Sadly, what little plot there is, is stretch to bursting point over four episodes. There simply isn't enough story to go around. As a result, the whole thing plods along at a very pedestrian pace which no amount of moody lighting can disguise.

On the plus side, writer Terrence Dicks clearly understand the relationship between the Doctor and Leela which provides much of Fang Rock's limited charm, but even one of TV's best realised double acts can't save the day - not even from an alien that when finally revealed turns out to be a Rutan - a glowing ball of luminous green snot with limited mobility.

Once again the picture and sound quality of the disc are as good, if not better, than could have been expected, but like turds, Rutans don't polish up to a deep lustre and in the end Fang Rock is simply a nasty mess despite its restoration.

The same, happily, can't be said of the extras. Both the Terrance Dicks and Paddy Russell documentaries are good meaty faire, albeit under a less than promising crust, and we're presented with a nice photo gallery as we've become accustom.

Perhaps what disappoints most about this disc is that so much effort was spent on wrapping up a story that no amount of fancy packing can save. It's a little like a Christmas present where the box is more fun than its contents. This is doubling disappointing when the BBC's archives are still full of quality Doctor Who just itching to get out on DVD.

Anthony Clark

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