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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Who on the Rock
Teatime television had two fixed points on winter weekends in the 1970s. Sunday brought the `Classic Serial', highly-regarded adaptations of Dickens, Austen, the Brontes etc. in half-hour episodes. Saturday gave us a modern classic serial - the first Saturday of September meant a new season of `Doctor Who'!

In September 1977 these two weekend fixtures seemed to...
Published 8 months ago by Number13

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A creepy story set on a lighthouse...
`Horror of Fang Rock' has gained itself a position amongst Doctor Who fans as being the most chilling and terrifying of stories. It's gothic atmosphere is resonant throughout, despite the fact that this was Graham William's first ever story to enter into production.

Written by Who legend Terrance Dicks, `Horror of Fang Rock' is a replacement story for an...
Published on 13 Jun 2012 by Tim Bradley


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Who on the Rock, 22 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Horror of Fang Rock [1977] [DVD] [1993] (DVD)
Teatime television had two fixed points on winter weekends in the 1970s. Sunday brought the `Classic Serial', highly-regarded adaptations of Dickens, Austen, the Brontes etc. in half-hour episodes. Saturday gave us a modern classic serial - the first Saturday of September meant a new season of `Doctor Who'!

In September 1977 these two weekend fixtures seemed to merge in the Space-Time Continuum, producing the outstanding `Horror of Fang Rock'.

Terrance Dicks' script is superb, full of tension, incident, excellent dialogue and even some humorous moments, each character's motivation and personality clearly drawn and believable. The first-rate cast bring this script to life as sincerely if they were playing one of the Sunday classics, from the opening friendly argument between the lighthouse keepers about the rival merits of oil and electricity, to the arguing shipwrecked aristocrats (who are not feeling friendly to each other at all). The convincingly cramped lighthouse sets and swirling studio fog add greatly to the claustrophobic mood as danger closes in.

Tom Baker is in fine form, as the Doctor slowly pieces together the puzzle and even makes a rare mistake along the way - the Doctor's realisation of this is a dramatic moment. Of course he recovers from this to finish off his adversaries in a typically inventive manner before delivering the memorable final lines of the story, a quotation that stayed with me for more than 35 years.

Louise Jameson is excellent as Leela. The script gives her plenty of great material and she plays it perfectly as usual, laying down the law to timid earthlings, pushing heedlessly through Edwardian social conventions, even teasing the Doctor at one point and clearly enjoying it. Leela is still the fearless warrior, but also very intelligent and learning fast from her travels with the Doctor.

It must be said that the enemy, when it finally shows itself, is a product of its pre-CGI time in terms of special effects, but it's certainly different and the concept is a good one in a strong story.

`Horror of Fang Rock' must be one of the scariest DVDs to carry a U certificate. It was a brilliant response to the critics who said `Doctor Who' had become too violent. The critics were wrong anyway - I'd watched since Jon Pertwee's early years (my early years too) and yes, `Doctor Who' was frightening sometimes, it was meant to be, and we loved it!

DVD Extras include the interesting commentary with good anecdotes and Terrance Dicks giving the writer's perspective on this unforgettable tale, and a documentary about his career - one of the key figures in the success story of classic `Doctor Who'.

5*
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some say after this it was all down hill., 23 April 2014
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Horror of Fang Rock [1977] [DVD] [1993] (DVD)
What ever one feels about Doctor Who that it was best when and or it was not as good as mob, Horror of Fang Rock is one of those no-one is going to come out of this for the better.

Claustrophobic, small sets and the BBC were still a decade away from the floodlighting its drama productions. True there are those who say that they may have trying to recreate the success of Pyramids of Mars with the turn of the twenty century setting. The threat is not to all of time and space, it is local confined. All the characters are neatly fleshed out, no matter how long their screen time.

The only disappointment and I write this as it was here and and the time I watched Horror of Fang Rock originally air, is the reveal of what is behind the curtain. Even by the then terrific production standards they programme makers managed to coble together on a shoe string. To me at the tender age hell I am approaching 51 you do the maths, I was very disappointed with the monster.

Having said that it is still great Who, with a battle to save lives all set in a tiny corner of the universe. No grand plans or schemes, just survive.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dense fog and a Victorian lighthouse. What's not to like?, 17 Oct 2006
By 
M. Wilberforce "mwilberforce" (Bristol, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Horror of Fang Rock [1977] [DVD] [1993] (DVD)
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lighthouse Horrors Await The Fourth Doctor & Leela, 5 Nov 2013
By 
Timelord007 (The Tardis) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Doctor Who - Horror of Fang Rock [1977] [DVD] [1993] (DVD)
Positive.
Tom Baker manic Fourth Doctor the eccentric benevolent alien.
A great story confined to a lighthouse adds to the tension of the adventure by writer Terrance Dicks.

Negative.
The effects at the end diminish the tension & drama out from the story.
This should've been more gorier it's obviously been advised to be toned down because of frosty knickers Mrs Mary Whitehouse usual complaining.

Trivia.
Tom Baker was very moody during production on this adventure as filming was located to Pebble Mill studio's in Birmingham as there was problems in BBC Television Centre London which meant he couldn't do his usual pub crawl around Soho.
Louise Jameson eye's became her natural Blue at the end of this adventure due to the brown contacts making her eyes itchy & sore.
The original story was similar to Dicks other Fourth Doctor story State Of Decay but due to the production on Dracula for the BBC that story was shelved until 1980.

Dvd, 100 minutes, Extras, Commentary, Documentary on Letts & Dicks era on Doctor Who, Paddy Russell interview, Photo Galleries & other extras.

Review.
This is the series opner to season 15 or as i call it the season of change as this series becomes slowly less Gothic in tone to a more humoured tone due over the cours of this season to the insistence of Doctor Who being to violent last season & frosty knickers Mary Whitehouse & her band of do gooders having there say influencing the BBC to tone the shows violence down.

The storys starts as the Tardis lands on a island called Fang Rock were a Lighthouse maintained by Reuben, Vince & Ben warn nearby ships of impending rocks.

The Doctor & Leela aren't the only space travellers whom have arrived in Fang Rock as another alien species is looming nearby.

As Ben is killed when stoking the boiler & the Lighthouse is plunging into darkness a shipwreck occurs & the survivors seek shelter at the Lighthouse.

The Doctor & Leela are soon involved in a mystery as the deaths start to occur inside the Lighthouse, Rueben claims the beast of Fang Rock has returned but is everyone inside the Lighthouse whom they appear to be & what exactly is a Rutan a enemy of the Sontarans doing on Fang Rock island?

The Doctor & Leela have to race againt time to prevent the Rutan signalling his Mothership before a whole Rutan invasion takes up arms against planet earth.

This is one of the few last Gothic tales of the Fourth Doctor era as the Graham Williams era relied on a broader comedy format compared to the Gothic tone of Phillip Hinchcliffes era.

Tom Baker exells as the Doctor whom delivery of the line "Gentlemen, The Lighthouse is under attack & by morning we could all be dead", Always has me in hysterics it's an utter genius delivery that is just brilliant.

Louise Jameson as Leela gets plenty to do in this adventure & a great companion for The Fourth Doctor whos eye pigmentation turns them from Brown to Blue eyes due to the contact lenses making Louise Jamesons eyes constantly sore & irritating.

Paddy Russell's direction deserves praise considering those claustrophobic tight sets were difficult to film but Paddy pulls it off excellently well & adds great atmosphere & a chilling tension to the story.

Final mention must go to Terrance Dicks whom has written another great Doctor Who adventure & created a new enemy for the Doctor's hall of villians with the Rutans.

This is a classic Fourth Doctor Adventure & highly recommended dvd release for the fans of Doctor Who.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Calm before the storm, 9 Feb 2008
By 
Greystone (Lancashire, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Doctor Who - Horror of Fang Rock [1977] [DVD] [1993] (DVD)
This is an absolute classic. Traditional DW format, a small group of people, isolated and under threat. But it's the mix of diverse characters and rich dialogue that really elevates this story to the top of the tree. Oddly enough, most of the people behind this story dislike it. I really don't understand this... notably Tom Baker has gone on record as disparaging the tale. (But then Tom seems to have a low opinion of any story that doesn't involve talking cabbages, sitting on his shoulder.)

I love the claustrophobic feel of the production from the fog on the rocks to the cramped quarters of the lighthouse. Yes, the Rutan looks a bit ropy but again the quality of the story far outweighs visual effects. This is Terrance Dicks at his best.

`Aye, though they hunted high and low
and hunted everywhere. Of the three mens' fate
they found no trace, of any kind in any place.
But a door ajar and an untouched meal and an
Over toppled chair.'

Marvelous!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ghosts in the Mist, 21 Mar 2005
By 
JA Fairhurst "johnfair" (Edgeley, Stockport) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Horror of Fang Rock [1977] [DVD] [1993] (DVD)
When the Fourth Doctor and Leela materialised on a misty pile of rocks they realised that they had not made it to Brighton. But they were in the right time zone and on the correct planet so they were doing well by the Doctor's usual score. They found themselves on Fang Rock but cut off from the mainland. Not necessarily a problem for there's a lighthouse where the couple can shelter from the mist. But this is the Doctor we're talking about and Fang Rock is the ultimate closed room horror story with a small number of victi... er, survivors of a shipwreck, none of them particularly pleasant.
For the majority of the story, we only have a phosphorescent green glow to indicate the presence of the strange killer along with the occasional electrical discharge. Before getting to see the attacking alien, we see through it's eye. The final revelation of the alien is marginally disappointing and it looks rather more amorphous than it should in my opinion.
Leela gets to gloat splendidly after blasting the rutan with her improvised cannon while the Doctor muses over the validity of such activity. Leela also got a nice bit of violent dialogue when she promised to cut out the hearts of the shipwreck victims if they interfered with the Doctor's plans.
This is a fairly rare example of pure horror in the Doctor Who canon, and an excellent stab at the genre.
The only real problem I had with this was technical in the fact that the darker scenes, mixed with the mist, made it rather difficult to see what was going on.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, Atmospheric and Spooky!, 14 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Horror of Fang Rock [1977] [DVD] [1993] (DVD)
One of the best Who stories is this Victorian chapter that sees an Alien shape changer stalk a lighthouse on the coast of southern England.

A ship crashes on the rocks and deposits a few passengers in the form of a mad banker intent on contacting London to make money, his wife who a neurotic screamer and a retired army officer with a few skeletons in the closet.

This is dark, spooky and very much the essence of what made us hide behind the sofa at 5:30 on a Saturday night, It's kind of like Alien before Alien was made, a group of people locked up with an Alien threat on the loose.

Great stuff and one of the best of the Baker years.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ballad of Flannan Isle, 30 Jan 2014
By 
Sussman "Sussman" (London CA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Doctor Who - Horror of Fang Rock [1977] [DVD] [1993] (DVD)
The loose background to this teleplay was based on a poem, and the prose refers to the true mysterious events surrounding the disappearance of three lighthouse keepers from a lighthouse around 1900. The feel of the show in terms of ‘set’ and atmosphere gives a rather claustrophobic nature to all four of the episodes, which I believe enhances the whole narrative and made the production rather nervy and scary for the target audience of the day.
For the narrative, in essence you have a group of people in relatively inaccessible location - the lighthouse, and rather like an Agatha Christie novel each protagonist is killed off one by one, by a mysterious killer. What follows is Doctor’s ability to solve this rather deadly puzzle. This was an interesting tale that by and large keeps the audience well entertained.
Once again Tom Baker is top of his game, and for companion Leela played by Louise Jameson and the other actors all do an excellent work here. One of my all-time favourite episodes hence my 5 star rating.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A creepy story set on a lighthouse..., 13 Jun 2012
This review is from: Doctor Who - Horror of Fang Rock [1977] [DVD] [1993] (DVD)
`Horror of Fang Rock' has gained itself a position amongst Doctor Who fans as being the most chilling and terrifying of stories. It's gothic atmosphere is resonant throughout, despite the fact that this was Graham William's first ever story to enter into production.

Written by Who legend Terrance Dicks, `Horror of Fang Rock' is a replacement story for an abandoned production which would later be `State of Decay' in 1980. In 1977, Dicks manages to conjure up a story of a horror mystery set on a lighthouse. It has a strong cast of characters, who each have different storylines of their own. The Doctor and Leela (played by Tom Baker and Louise Jameson) really get into the nitty-gritty of the story by solving the mystery of the alien menace lurking among the rocks around the light house.

This story is also the first time we meet the Rutans (enemies of the Sontarans). I'd listened to `Castle of Fear' (another Rutan story) before this, although I had seen clips of the Rutan in the `Bred for War' documentary on `The Sontaran Experiment' DVD. Although unimpressed by their realisation on screen (they look pathetic), I rather like an alien monster who can shape shift into any form. And when seeing Reuban (the lighthouse keeper who gets killed in the story by Episode 2) become green and menacing; and having that wicked smile on his face when becoming evil or is in actual fact the Rutan, I think a green blobby jelly-fish who can shape-shift is the perfect monster for the Sontarans.

The highlights of the DVD extras for me are the `Terrance Dicks: Fact or Fiction' documentary, which charts a general overview of Terrance's time on Doctor Who, including the Jon Pertwee years as script editor; his solo Doctor Who adventures including `Robot', `The Brain of Morbius' (or as Robin Bland), `State of Decay' and `The Five Doctors' as well as `Horror of Fang Rock'; his work for children's books other than Doctor Who; and his original Doctor Who fiction for the Virgin series. I was actually pleased Paul Cornell was on that documentary since he's a new series writer and for me wrote `Circular Time' (my favourite Doctor Who audio). I liked how Paul Cornell mentions the writing approaches of Terrance Dicks and Robert Holmes and regards them as working together approaches rather than against each other.

Other DVD extras include `Paddy Russell: A Life In Television", which includes some behind-the-scenes stuff that she did as a director in her early years in television as well as talking about the Doctor Who's she directed including `The Massacre', `Invasion of the Dinosaurs' and `Pyramids of Mars' as well as `Horror of Fang Rock'. I was quite surprised by how Paddy found Tom Baker difficult when working on the `Horror of Fang Rock' story (considering it's a fan favourite) and not getting on well with Louise Jameson which sort of troubled me thinking about it (of course they're good friends now).

I enjoyed `The Antique Doctor Who Show"(nice little feature which made me relax) and the audio commentary with Louise Jameson, Terrance Dicks and John Abbot who plays Vince in the story (I felt sorry for that character; he was so nice and he had to die at the end).

To sum up, `Horror of Fang Rock' is certainly an atmospheric and creepy tale. I wouldn't rate it in my line of favourite Doctor Who stories, but it certainly is a good watch.

The next story with the Doctor and Leela is 'The Invisible Enemy'.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic, 20 Jan 2005
By 
D. Evans "dantheman95" (Southport) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Horror of Fang Rock [1977] [DVD] [1993] (DVD)
The Horror Of The Fang Rock, was the first story to feature Graham Williams as Producer, but in terms of style and atmosphere it is more like an adventure from the Philip Hinchcliffe, generally regarded as the peak period for the show by many fans. Although the Williams would descend more heavily into comedy, to the dismay of some followers of the series, it is a kept to a mininium here. Featuring a group of people isolated in a lighthouse, whilst been killed off one by one, by an unknown killer, this story is one of the best, and well worth seeing. Tom Baker is as usual on top form, as are Louise Jameson and the guest actors.
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