The Stones of Blood (1978)

The Stones of Blood is a very special story. It is the 100th Doctor Who story and is also the third story in the Key to Time series. After a slightly disappointing previous story, it was important that the series got back to doing what it does best and that’s scaring little kids. This is the first of two stories in this series to be written by David Fisher and to be honest it’s difficult to choose the best between the two. This story has a modern (at the time of transmission) setting which I always like.

The main baddy is Cessair of Diplos who uses the Stones as her heavies. The Stones are simple yet effective. All they do is move along the ground in a way that is probably similar to the weaping angels and they also glow as they move. There is one moment when a couple who are camping in the woods encounter the stone and when one touches it she’s dies. Another grim moment. Their clearly not intelligent as one is tricked over the cliff by the Doctor waving his coat in front of it.

The first half of the story deals with a circle of stones which has something about it. It appears that it is a mini Stonehenge which attracts druids. The second half of the story strangly moves into a trial which could see the Doctor executed for breaking the seal on a door which contains the Megara. Vivien Fay is leading the case for the prosecution. It takes a while for her true identity to come out. But due to a clever quick thinking by the Doctor, Vivien is knocked unconscious and it allows the Megara to find out find out she is really Cessair of Diplos and what is wanted for. The cliffhanger to episode one was very well realised by just using Mary Tamm. She can hear the Doctor but there is no sign of him. At the very last second something pushes her over the cliff and we’re left to think that it’s the Doctor. Apparently it was intended for us to see the Doctor but Tom Baker objected and actually I think it would have been a less effective ending.

Another story and another set of wonderful actors. Susan Engel is just brilliant as Vivien Fay. From the moment she appeared on screen it was clear there was something odd about her. Nearly stabbing the Doctor with a tripod stand is hardly the best way to introduce yourself to someone. From that moment on she becomes even better as her true colours are revealed she becomes one of the best baddies of this series. Beatrix Lehmann was just a delight to watch as Professor Rumford. She has such a presence on screen and she has an innocence about her yet manages to act in defiance when she is needed to. Tom Baker puts in a reined in performance. It’s not quite as comedic as it has been and deals with the situation more sensibly. Mary Tamm puts in her best performance despite wearing that awful hat. The bickering between the two characters is less evident that in previous stories and it seems that their relationship is bedding down.

To sum up this story I’ll repeat something I mentioned earlier. The story is simple yet effective. The first half of this story seems to have to deal with druids and stones that can kill and then it moves on into hyperspace. With impressive sets (especially the Hyperspace ship), The Stones of Blood is a highly enjoyable story.

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