Story: 5/5 - Extras: 4/5
Five stars may be a little over-generous for this early offering by incoming producer Graham Williams, as penned by Who veteran Terrance Dicks, but "Horror of Fang Rock" remains a very atmospheric instalment of "Doctor Who", even though it was produced entirely in the studio.
The gloomy lighthouse is an innately claustrophobic setting, especially since the new electric generator is being tampered with, causing the lights to go out without warning on a semi-regular basis. Something alien is haunting the lighthouse, raising paranoia among its depleted crew, including the young and naïve junior keeper Vince (John Abbott) and the old-fashioned senior keeper Reuben (Colin Douglas). The Doctor and Leela, of course, arrive at exactly the wrong moment, but for once they don't spend most of the story under suspicion of murder.
A shipwreck on the rocks whilst the light is out brings a small collection of additional survivors into the confines of the lighthouse, all of whom are distinct characters, and they help to sustain the story (and the body count) over its full four episodes. The anxiety of the new arrivals is set against the backdrop of the intermittent lights and the sinister sound of the fog horn, and combined with the good set design it all works rather well. The lamp gallery is a particular technical accomplishment given the studio-bound nature of the story.
The special effects are poor, of course, and the enemy (when it finally reveals itself in its true form) is a massive disappointment, but on atmosphere and performances alone, "Horror of Fang Rock" deserves a high score. On the DVD, we have a commentary with writer Terrance Dicks, and actors John Abbott and Louise Jameson (Leela). The bonus documentaries are devoted to writer Dicks and director Paddy Russell and their respective careers, with particular focus on "Doctor Who". A decent package.