Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Vamp or Not? Doctor Who: The Stones of Blood

dvd

We have looked at two definitively vampiric Doctor Who adventures before, The State of Decay and The Curse of Fenric, as well as honourably mentioning the modern episode Smith and Jones. A friend, Kris, let me borrow the Stones of Blood as he believed it worthy of a ‘Vamp or Not?’

The episode was part of the ‘Key to Time’ storyline, aired in 1978, in which the Doctor (Tom Baker) and timelord companion Romana (at this point played by Mary Tamm) search for the pieces of an artefact known, ever so strangely, as the key to time – an artefact broken into segments and scattered through time and space. Other than the fact that the key (or its pieces) can allow shape shifting, the higher arc is almost unimportant to our specific investigation. It should be noted that the DVD cover as lent to me was different to the illustrative one I found online.

the tardisThe Doctor and Romana’s quest takes them to Earth and a stone circle called the Nine Travellers. Having seen the protagonists in the Tardis we cut to the circle and see a druidic ritual. During the ritual blood is poured upon the standing stones which then pulse and glow – you can just bet that has something to do with the investigation.

Mary Tamm as RomanaHaving left K9 (voiced by John Leeson) they follow the signal of a tracking device to the stone circle but the signal vanishes. There they meet Professor Emilia Rumford (Beatrix Lehmann) and her assistant Vivien Fey (Susan Engel) who are surveying the stones. The Doctor leaves Romana with the women whilst he goes to meet the druid leader DeVries (Nicholas McArdle).

ritualistic crow costumeDeVries seems to know who the Doctor is – or at least that he is called the Doctor – and there is some banter between them. The Doctor spots someone in a ritualistic crow costume and, whilst distracted, DeVries coshes him. Romana in the meantime thinks she hears the Doctor calling to her, ends up on a cliff edge and seems to be pushed over.

Tom Baker as the DoctorWhen the Doctor awakens he is tied to a sacrificial rock in the stone circle and DeVries is going to shed his blood. The sacrifice is interrupted as Professor Rumford wanders along and the druids leg it. Romana is, of course, missing (she’s clinging to the cliff face) and the Doctor has K9 track her. They find her and she is scared of the Doctor, believing he pushed her over, but quickly they realise it must be someone manipulating the key – could it be the Celtic Goddess, the Cailleach?

Leaving Romana to go through Rumford’s research the Doctor heads back to DeVries. Romana discovers that the circle was one of three places of augury but we see the druid and his follower Martha (Elaine Ives-Cameron) attacked by one of the stones which has moved under its own steam to DeVries home. When the Doctor and K9 arrive DeVries and Martha are quite dead.

K9 battles with the stoneThe stone, however, is still there and attacks the Doctor and we see K9 battling with the stone. By the time Romana arrives the stone has gone but K9 is very worse for wear. The stalwart little robot does manage to mention that the stones, a silicon based life form, are globulin deficient – a protein found in terrestrial blood. This then is the crux of the matter as far as we are concerned.

spaceship in hyperspaceWe need not go further into the story; suffice it to say it involves an escaped alien convict and a spaceship hidden in hyperspace. We also get justice robots (in the form of flashing blobs of light) and the Doctor on trial. However little of this effects the ‘Vamp or Not?’ We do discover that the creatures are from Ogros, the word augury being a corruption thereof.

alien convictThe stones can move around, seem intelligent (though under the command of the alien convict) and definitely need blood to survive. This has been supplied by the druids but they can hunt as necessary. Having found themselves weakened by a force field constructed by K9 they hunt down a couple of unsuspecting humans – a pair of campers. When one touches the stone surface her hand seems to stick to it and the flesh is literally melted from the bone to get to the precious blood protein.

Is it Vamp? In a sci-fi sense these creatures could well be classed as vampiric. We have, previously, accepted the fact that an alien creature could be a vampire – rather than a vampire being undead – and the fact that they are a block of stone rather than a bipedal creature just underlines how alien they are. They are long lived (they have been around 4000 years) and may be immortal. The Doctor tricks one over the cliff and, when asked if it is dead, wonders how you kill a stone. They can be destroyed – the justice machines I mentioned destroy one – though they are tough – K9’s laser has little effect.

It is, however, on the cusp. They are blocks of stone but they are, also, feeding off the blood of animals and humans.

The imdb page for the first of the four episodes is here.

3 comments:

Bill Courtney said...

Tal

I have checked out the sites I normally drop in on in a while. Some connection and PC issues actually. I have spent a couple days backing up my drives and need to clean off the disk and reinstall everything. Right now my proxies are so slow they will not open all the images on your site. I used an image from your site for a title/credit animation for my youtube site. I will direct you to it later.

Good to see you are posting steadily. I am a little behind due to my connection issues but hopefully will back in action shortly.

I actually saw Innocent Blood at the cinema when it cam out long, long ago. Wasn't that the French woman from Le Femme Nikita? So it was during her 15 minutes of fame. I like your scans. The one of her red eyes is great. I am using the VLC video player to capture now and the only problem is capturing more images than I can post really.

I will check back.

Bill

B said...

PS

TAl, if chick young is there I am sorry I cannot open his site's comment page. Tell him HOWDY. I notice he has not posted in a while, and hope all is well. Lok forward to some new stuff soon.

Bill

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Bill

She was indeed from La Femme Nikita.

Sorry to hear about your PC probs... hope all is sorted soon