DOCTOR WHO CLASSIC REVIEW: THE TALONS OF WENG-CHIANG (1977)
The Talons Of Weng-Chiang was the last serial in season 14. It was six parts long and set in the Victorian era. This was one of the first ever classic episodes I watched a good six years ago, and I have never watched it since. I have completely forgotten about this story and I have no idea why. With a similar tone to one of my favourite classic adventures, The Horror Of Fang Rock, The Talons Of Weng-Chiang is an incredible story which is unique, fun, gothic, and just an overall brilliant ending to a great season of Doctor Who.
The plot was relatively simple. The Doctor and Leela land in Victorian times and start helping the police find out what was happening to all the women that were disappearing. They end up at a theatre where they meet one of the best side characters, Henry Gordon Jago. They also meet another brilliant side character Professor Litefoot who was examining the dead bodies. There was a magician who performed magic tricks at the theatre called Li H’sen Chang. He was one of the people behind the missing women who had a lair underneath the theatre. He worked for someone called Magnus Greel who came from the future and was dying. He pretended to be a Chinese legend Called Weng-Chiang, so people followed him. He needed to get hold of a time cabinet which would allow him to save himself and keep himself alive and travel away from the Victorian era. The whole story is about them getting hold of the cabinet which Professor Litefoot owns. With some questionable portrayals of the Chinese the villains are great in this story and with Jago and Litefoots help the Doctor and Leela manage to destroy the cabinet and stop Magnus Greel. The atmosphere of The Talons Of Weng-Chiang is what I love most about this story. I thought the Horror Of Fang Rock was gothic, but this surpasses that. Most of the scenes take places at night or underground which makes for a really eery episode. I love how dark and foggy everywhere is as it just makes everything feel way more real. While there were a few small plot holes all six episodes are brilliant and the idea was so original. It is a story which will never be repeated as it is so iconic. The ending was also very satisfying instead of any big red button endings.
The characters in The Talons Of Weng-Chiang were perfect. Tom Baker was at his very best as the Doctor. He was funny, as well as dark and serious. Leela is a companion who I feel doesn’t really fit in. However, I did enjoy her in this story, and she did have a role to play which companions often don’t. Magnus Greel was a tad over the top however he was a good villain along with Mr Sin and Li H’sen Chang who were just iconic. But the best double act has got to go to Jago And Litefoot. They were so polar opposite but so brilliant. So often I talk about side characters being forgettable. They certainly weren’t. They helped the Doctor and had a big part to play in the story as well as being funny, clever and standout characters. I really want to listen to there big finish stories now as I am such a huge fan of them.
To conclude, The Talons Of Weng-Chiang was an absolute classic of a story. I had brilliant characters as well as a brilliant villain. The story was unique, the pacing was exactly right, and the setting and atmosphere of this serial made it such an enjoyable watch. I can’t believe I haven’t watched it in so long and it easily makes it onto my top ten list. What a story!
I rate The Talons Of Weng-Chiang a 9/10.
Written by: JACOB MOORE
Hi I’m Jacob and I do articles on all things Doctor Who! Thanks for reading, I hope you all enjoy:)