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The Horror of Fang Rock is another of those classic Tom Baker Doctor Who
adventures that made very little use of special effects and yet delivered an
interesting and highly atmospheric story. So, when I found that Louise
Jameson had narrated this Terrance Dicksnovelization of that classic I
grabbed it immediately.
This story is one of those great gothic horror era Doctor Who episodes that
engendered a dark sense of coming doom that doesn't rely on spectacular and
frequent special effects as so many contemporary shows have to in order to
pad out an otherwise prosaic story. Of course, I realize that someone of my
age might see the world like this and perhaps to an unfair or biased degree
but I do think that story telling now is propped up by ever more and
frequent bouts of eye-candy in order to flesh out a weak plot or keep the
generation"Z" kids interested for more than 5 minutes at a time. In the "old
days" it was the mystery and foreboding menace of the story which gave it
substance, longevity and appeal.
There's nothing complex or perhaps particularly original here but it's the
execution of the story that makes for such a classily good yarn. Put the
cast of very different characters on a remote lighthouse and contain the
plot within the claustrophobic confines of said structure and you have the
makings of a great monster horror story.
As ever, these BBC productions are top notch and full of atmospheric sound
effects to really immerse the listener into the plot. Jameson does a nice
job of narrating this story and delivers Lela's lines just as they were all
those years ago.
If I had anything to feel a tad disappointed about it was the same
observation I had regarding the Robots of Death adaptation I recently
reviewed where I felt Dicks could've expanded a little on the television
screenplay by giving us an introduction to the story by way of some
narrative about the crash of the Rutan ship into the sea near the
lighthouse. Such expanded introductions were seen in the excellent "The
Brain of Morbius" and "The Time Warrior". One plot inconsistency I noticed
or as far as memory serves I think was a issue was the fact that it seemed
to me as if the Rubin character once taken over by the Rutan seemed to be
both locked in his room and on the outside wall of the lighthouse at the
same time. It's likely my recollection of the timeline of the events but it
did seem as if this was an oversight. As ever, none of this marred my
enjoyment of this wonderfully told classic Doctor Who story.
louise Jameson is a fantastic narrator and is particularly good in this. I always thought that this story was one of Tom's best, but missed the original transmission. Because of this the book was my first, and for many years my only experience of the story. When I finally got the opportunity to the see it on BSB, I was impressed by the clostrphobic atmosphere and the great performance of the cast. For me it stands with talons, robots, and genesis at the top of the list of the fourth doctors stories.