Friday, April 7, 2023

#AtoZChallenge2023: Doctor Who Fendahl

Doctor Who: F
Today's is a bit different. I am going to talk about a single serial, the four-part "Image of the Fendahl."  This one struck a chord with me for a lot of reasons.

The story deals with the discovery of a human skull dated 12 million years old. Modern humans did not appear on the scene until about 300,000 years ago. So this has the various scientists in a stir.  At the same time the Fourth Doctor and his companions Leela and K-9 (both get their own days!) discover a "hole in time" and follow it to it's source which is of course on Earth.

 The skull has some odd psychic powers and it attracts the attention of one of scientists, Thea Ransome, and begins to take her over.

I won't go into the details of everything here. There are plenty of places to read about that. I do want to talk about what this one means to me.

So as I will mention on P day, in the 1980s, Doctor Who was shown on my local (St. Louis) PBS station. It was also on late on Sunday night, so to watch it I had to sneak it. So I never saw the Image of Fendahl in order. I would catch it here and there, and I of course people at school would talk about it. So the story of the episode was in my mind very different than what was on the screen.  I have also talked about how I would spend my paper route money on D&D books and Doctor Who books. So when I could I bought the Terrance Dicks novelization long before I ever saw it. But by then the ideas I had of it became deeply routed.

Also, this episode played into my keen interest into astronomy with the destruction (by the Time Lords no less) of a 5th planet between Mars and Jupiter, where the asteroid belt is now.

Occult Overtones

In the episode, there are various occult overtones. It was made in the later half of the 1970s so this is no surprise really.  The Fendahl skull had a pentagram in it. There was a pentagram involved in the ritual to recreate the gestalt creature.  Also there were in my young mind overtones of Jungian psychology here. Now I was already reading all this sort of stuff in the 80s so it blended in a heady brew of half-remembered, half-concocted ideas.  

Personally, I would not be surprised if there are ideas I generated then due to this that appear in my various witch books today.  Not a lot I am sure, but if I chased the right thread I bet it would lead me here. 

Doctor and the Fendahl

I have really been meaning to re-watch this one for some time. I know have seen it in the last 10 years or so. I recall watching it one winter while taking down our Geek-themed Christmas tree. But I really need to see it again.

That Wholock Crossover

Spend any time at all in Doctor Who fandom and you will run into people that want a Sherlock/Doctor Who crossover. Makes sense, both shows have similar sensibilities, a super-smart main character, and their companion, and both shows were (at the time) headed by Steven Moffat.  I even got on board with it after my own fashion

The Image of Fendahl has the best link to a Wholock crossover (besides the multiple appearances of Mark Gatiss).  Wanda Ventham who plays Thea Ransome is none other than Benedict "Sherlock" Cumberbatch's mother. He was just about 1 year old when this was filmed.


I'll need to see if I can find this anywhere to re-watch, I just checked my DVD collection and oddly enough I don't have it. 

ETA: Ok, I just grabbed on DVD (not BluRay) to go with my others here.

A to Z of Doctor Who

All images are used with permission from the BBC and are copyrighted 2023 by the BBC.


Roland D. Yeomans said...

Dr. Who is epic and not truly appreciated, Thanks for visiting me. :-)

PT Dilloway said...

That skull didn't turn out to be made of crystal and belong to an alien, did it? Because that would be the dumbest thing ever.

Since Dr. Who can go pretty much anywhere in time, I guess it would be pretty easy to have a crossover with Sherlock whether a modern day version or a classic version.

Salem Devina said...

I need to get caught up on all my visits. This is great.

TWW said...

Awesome, the fourth doctor was my wife's 'doctor' mine was three.

John Holton said...

I don't remember this one. I think Pluto TV still has a Doctor Who channel, so maybe it'll come on there.