Thursday, December 3, 2009

5C1 - The Stones of Blood 1

The Stones of Blood doesn't begin very promisingly, starting with a very unconvincing shot of the TARDIS spinning in the time vortex (which looks 100% like a tiny police box prop bouncing slightly on a string in front of a kaleidoscope). And then there's a scene which is so obviously a late addition to replace the infamous birthday cake scene that most of the dialogue is lifted straight from The Doctor's conversation with the White Guardian in The Ribos Operation.

Once the TARDIS actually lands, though, things settle down quite nicely. It's also slightly heartwarming to see the location work being done on OB (outside broadcast) videotape as opposed to the usual film for the first time since 1976's The Seeds of Doom. Stories like Seeds and Robot before it used OB in order to better mesh with model shots done on videotape in the studio. Here, though, it's purely because director Darrol Blake didn't like the obvious jump between filmed and videotaped material. Given that an entire Monty Python skit was once devoted to poking fun on the differences between video and film, Blake's opinion is one that I heartily subscribe to.

For a Graham Williams-era story, this all begins very much like a Hinchcliffe era story, complete with druidic cults and dark symbolism. Even Dudley Simpson's score evokes the work of Geoffrey Burgon's Season 13 scores with his use of flutes. In fact, The Stones of Blood is one of Simpson's better late 1970s stories.

The episode ends very bizarrely, though, with poor Darrol Blake hamstrung by the fact that Tom Baker steadfastly refused to appear onscreen as an evil personification of himself to push Romana off a cliff. Blake does what he can with what he could shoot, but it still just looks like Romana uncharacteristically stood on the lip of a cliff in bare feet and fell off...


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