Friday, November 20, 2009

4X1 - Image of the Fendahl 1

I've always had a hard time getting to grips with Image of the Fendahl. It's probably because of the very ambiguous (ambiguous to me, at any rate) first episode, which raises more questions than it answers. While it's clear that Dr. Fendleman and his team are investigating the skull to determine why it appears to be 12 million years old, it's not immediately apparent what Fendleman and Stael are doing with the equipment in their secret room later in the episode.

Whatever they're doing with the equipment, though, it's sure screwing with the skull, which is messing with the mind of Thea Ransom. Also, a hiker nearby is being pursued by something, apparently, although from the way the scene is shot, it's never made clear that it he's being pursued at all. For years, I always just assumed that the camera is simply moving towards the hiker and, at the episode's end, towards a taciturn Tom Baker in a moody choice of shots from director George Spenton-Foster.

The most dramatic thing about this episode, though (and the most pleasantly surprising) is the complete lack of incidental music. The tension and overall weirdness builds purely through the sounds of the skull and the computer equipment escalating throughout the episode. It's another minimalist stroke in the same vein as the earlier Horror of Fang Rock, and part of a curious opening episode that intrigues the viewer to want to watch more.


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