Pitted against this flamboyant madness, largely centred on an East End music hall run by the self-important Henry Gordon Jago (a memorable performance by Christopher Benjamin) are Tom Baker's fourth Doctor, in pre-self-parody top form, and Louise Jameson's Leela at her primal best. There's strong support from Trevor Baxter as the Watson-like Professor Lightfoot, and John Bennett as the villainous Li H'sen Chang. Really helping matters is the first-rate direction from David "Genesis of the Daleks" Maloney, evoking a creepy atmosphere in a fantasy London of shadows and fog. Weng-Chiang was the pinnacle of Gothic Who and still remains highly enjoyable entertainment.
On the DVD: Doctor Who: The Talons of Weng-Chiang offers all six original episodes with good, if variable, 4:3 picture and crisp and clear mono sound. There is also highly informative on-screen trivia text and a lively group commentary with David Maloney, Louise Jameson, John Bennett and Christopher Benjamin. The highlight of Disc 2 is an hour-long documentary, Whose Doctor Who, shown on BBC2 the day after the final episode of "Weng-Chiang" aired. Also included is 23 minutes of extremely poor quality b/w timecoded video production footage and--much more fun--26 minutes worth of clips from Blue Peter with Lesley Judd, John Noakes and Peter Purvis showing how to build a Doctor Who music-hall theatre. There's also an interesting 11-minute 1977 interview with Philip Hinchcliffe, continuity announcements and trailers, a photo gallery, a short new animation, Tardis Cam No. 6, and optional subtitles. --Gary S Dalkin
As for the special features, my favourite of any Who DVD is 25 min behind the scenes footage which makes you feel like you are there trying to wrap up before home time. Also worth the time is an interview with the producer in 1977 and a documentry 'Whose Doctor Who?' from the same year. I always look forward to the commentary and this one is amongst the best as they give annecdote after annecdote as well as a few laughs, its a tad crowded with the 5 of them however its a small gripe.
To some up a fantastic DVD (maybe the best Who DVD) and a good gift for anybody.
For many, it represents the peak of the show and it isn't difficult to see why. The characterisation is superb with an intricate plot, bravura performances and an atmosphere that is evoked so perfectly. Misty Streets at night time, menacing sewer scenes and stalking killers parading the alleyways of London.
As for it not "mirroring real life issues", many would say that Science Fiction is a means to escape from realities hence the tag "Fantasy" that is often labelled alongside programmes such as Dr Who.
Buy this to see what magic Dr Who truly is.