I know I’ve seen this one before, but not sure how much I remember.

Episode 1:

We open with a group of Victorian era people applauding in an auditorium. Behind the scenes, the hall owner, Mr Jago (played by Christopher Benjamin, who we last saw in the Jon Pertwee classic INFERNO as Sir Keith) congratulates the performers, notably Mr. Chang on his performance.

Suddenly a man bursts in, demanding to know where his Emma is. Mr Chang assures Mr Jago it is all right and invites the man to accompany him into his dressing room. There, the man insists his wife came through the side door the night before, and she hasn’t been seen since.

Apparently, Emma was invited on stage the week before for a levitation trick and her husband says she’s been acting strange since. He threatens to call the law if he doesn’t tell her where she is. Chang insists that he didn’t see her.

The husband leaves to get the “peelers” and Chang looks to his ventriloquist doll, who, despite nobody touching it, nods its head at him.

We shift to the lapping water, presumably of the Thames. Not far from there, the TARDIS appears and Leela, dressed in period appropriate garb, though her clothes aren’t very lady like. The Doctor, too, has changed his garb to better fit in, something that doesn’t happen terribly often (despite the established fact that there are huge wardrobes in the TARDIS.)

Seeing a poster for Chang’s performances, The Doctor and Leela hurry to the theatre.

One of the workers, Casey, comes running to Jago, babbling about a skull and chains clanking in the cellar. Jago hushes him and gives something to drink to calm down. Jago tries to say it was a cat or something, but says they’ll go down together to investigate.

In the streets, the affronted husband is confronted by the ventriloquist dummy, which seems able to walk about on its own. It brandishes a knife and approaches him menacingly.

The Doctor and Leela walk through the foggy streets, Leela asking questions about the “large village” and the tribe that lives there. They hear a man’s scream and The Doctor moves on to investigate. He finds a group of Chinamen carrying a body, which they drop and attack him with martial arts weapons and hand-to-hand.

Leela arrives and helps fight them, but she is overcome by five on one odds. The Chinamen run off when a bobby’s whistle is heard, though The Doctor and Leela trip one up. The Doctor gives chase but they lose him easily and when he returns back to the scene of the assault, Leela is facing off with a bobby.

He explains that she and he were attacked by the man and four others, but the bobby says that she was choking the man with his own pigtail and insists they accompany him to the station.

In the theatre, Chang has a woman volunteer laying prone, supported by the backs of two chairs – one under her feet, one under her head. Chang picks up his doll, Mr. Sin, who says she is merely asleep, not in a trance, and Chang instructs an assistant to remove the chair beneath her feet.

She remains levitated. The assistant removes the second chair and the woman remains in the air. The show goes on, swining for wires and such, then Chang levitates her further, above his head. The crowd is most appreciative.

Jago, watching from the curtains, sees blood running down the doll’s wrist.

At the police station, The Doctor and Leela are forced to deal with the police, who are trying to get proper name and address from them. The sergeant says they must be patient, they’re busy with a lot of women disappearing, it seems. They get irate with the sergeant, saying they’re only there to “lay evidence” and tell him the man they were carrying was dead.

When the sergeant says they’re waiting for an interpreter, The Doctor illustrates his command of Chinese dialects. The sergeant says it isn’t proper since The Doctor is a party to the case. Suddenly, police whistles can be heard blowing from the river.

At the river, a body floats. Several bobbies are there and use a boat hook to pull the corpse in.

Later, Mr. Chang arrives at the police station, to act as interpreter. The Doctor seems to recognise him, but Chang says it could not be so. (Perhaps the poster?)

When Chang sits down, he opens his ring. A small red pill falls out and the China man takes it and swallows it, dying moments thereafter. The Doctor spies a tattoo on the dead man’s hand, identifying it as the Tong of the Black Scorpion.

The Doctor barks orders at the sergeant to set up a room for a post-mortem. The sergeant snaps to.

Chang urges his carriage driver to hurry, as the horses run through the night streets.

Jago finds Casey, reminding him the gallery lights are still burning. They discuss the disappearances of the girls that has been going on. Casey postulates that it’s Jack the Ripper, returned.

After sending Casey off to deal with the gallery, Jago slips into Chang’s dressing room, and opens the case holding Mr Sin. He inspects Sin’s wrist, confirming the presence of blood. He doesn’t notice Sin’s eyes are moving, watching him.

Casey scares Jago, who confides that he thought it was Chang – he’s worried that if the “Celestial” found him trying to figure out his tricks, he’d leave the theatre prematurely. (Seems Jago thought Mr Sin was a midget dressed up like a doll, but that is not the case.) They depart to go check on the cellar.

The Doctor and Leela walk through the streets, discussing the Tong of the Black Scorpion and their worship of Weng-Chiang, who is destined to come back and rule the world. They arrive at the coroner’s and enter. A sole China man is following them.

At the coroner’s they hear that Professor Litefoot is inspecting the man who was pulled out of the river. Litefoot says that the man didn’t drown, seems to have been mauled by a wild animal. The Doctor suggests a rodent, but Litefoot scoff at the idea, saying it would have to have been a giant rat. He says that the man wasn’t killed by the mauling, but by a knife to the heart that preceeded the mauling and being tossed in the water.

The Doctor examines the clothes from the man and Leela recognises them as those from the man they saw the Chinamen attack. There is a badge identifying him as a cab driver (and Emma’s husband was a cab driver, so it’s obviously his body.)

Finding some hairs, The Doctor says they’re rat hairs, but Litefoot says they’re way too long – almost three inches, where rat hairs are perhaps a quarter inch long. The Doctor says that Weng-Chiang was also the god of abundance and could make things grow.

He departs, instructing Leela to stay. The China man trails him, an axe in hand. The China man throws the axe, which misses, but gets The Doctor’s attention. He turns back to confront the man, who chokes, gasps and collapses.

Leela walks up, blowing out her blow dart pipe, slipping it back into her trousers, while The Doctor chastises her for using the Janis thorn, which he has already forbade her. When she points out the China man was trying to kill him, he doesn’t seem to mind so much and they head off together.

They enter the sewers (near to where the attack happened, I presume, as they find blood at the grate, and The Doctor confirms Leela’s suspicion it’s from the body.) They navigate through the ankle deep water as rats and other vermin scamper and make noise.

Leela asks what rats are and says they don’t seem very dangerous. The Doctor confirms they’re not, though they are very cunning. Suddenly, down the sewer tunnel, there’s a great roaring. A giant rat charges at them… and the credits roll.

I have next to no recollection of this so far and am enjoying it. Love Victorian London stories, so don’t mind being back on Earth for this one. And, to be fair, only half of this season have been set on Earth. But this one is a lot of fun so far.


Episode 2:

They flee back up to the surface. The Doctor says it was ten feet from head to tail. He says it’s there to keep people away and heads off, Leela running after him.

In the cellar at the theatre, Casey and Jago move through with lanterns. Jago still thinks Casey’s imagination gets away with him. He says the water runs beneath and that could explain the clanging of chains that Casey thought he heard, but the employee isn’t convinced.

The sergeant tells The Doctor that they don’t have plans of the sewer system. The sarge gives him a letter from Prof Litefoot, requesting his presence. Seems they found the China man’s body. When the sergeant asks if they know anything about it, Leela begins to explain, but The Doctor cuts her off, saying it’s time to go.

I love the social awkwardness of having Leela in civilisation. She’s not used to prevaricating, to the arcane laws of other people and it’s always fun seeing her deal with it.

Chang surprises Jago at the theatre, after Casey has left for the night. He invites him to his dressing room so they can talk. Jago is about to offer a new contract, giving Chang 2% more, but Chang is not intersted in talking money; instead, he uses some form of hypnotism to make Jago forget about the cab driver who made accusations against Chang. He instructs him to return to his desk and when he sits down there, he will not remember that he encountered Chang or they had any conversation.

Chang goes down into the cellar, lighting a lantern on the way. He moves through the various props, going into a back area, and tapping on a part of the floor thrice. A secret door opens, revealing a ladder that he descends.

Entering a room that seems to be a laboratory, filled with flasks and vials and beakers and fluids, Chang prostates himself. A cloaked figure staggers forward, rasping, “You are late!”

Chang says they should not go out tonight, but the figure, who wears a mask or helmet, says they must go out every night until “the time cabinet is full!” He has a coughing fit, which elicits a “you are ill,” from Chang.

The figure rasps, “I am DYING, Chang!” It says that the disease grows worse and the “distillation” lasts less amount of time. Chang argues that it is getting dangerous taking women off the streets, the people and police are growing more wary, more cautious.

The figure says that he gave him psychic powers to make him above anyone else from this time period. Chang says there is a stranger, a doctor, but the figure says it is not a Time Agent. Chang’s master says they are wasting time and ascends the stairs as Chang promises to deal with The Doctor personally if he continues to interfere.

Litefoot speaks to The Doctor and Leela about the amazing things – a zoologist has confirmed that the bite marks on the body from the Thames must be from a rat, even a giant one.

As they talk, Litefoot apologises to Leela for talking about such things in front of a delicate lady. She is amused that he is talking about her in that fashion. She then horrifies Litefoot by talking about when she was taught how to strike someone’s heart with a blade. He looks to The Doctor, perplexed.

The Doctor, calmly says, “Savage. Found floating down the Amazon in a hat box.”

A bobby shows up to report they’ve identified the cab driver as Joseph Buller. His mother in law identified the clothing. She also related that her daughter had gone missing and Joseph had gone to the theatre, thinking that’s where she was to be found.

It’s plain the man got stupidly drunk and picked a fight with a dwarf,” Litefoot says, not interested in any of the other nuggest of info the bobby divined from the mother in law. He invites The Doctor and Leela to join him for dinner.

In the cab ride over, Leela asks why Litefoot is “making fire” in his mouth (smoking a pipe.) Litefoot reveals that he grew up in China – his father was military and went there in 1860 and stayed as attache. The Doctor stops the cab in the middle of transit, saying he’s going to investigate the theatre, and tells Leela to stay with Litefoot.

Jago opens the door to find The Doctor banging loudly. The Doctor does some ledgerdemain, but Jago is not impressed. The Doctor says he’s a master of hypnosis and easily brings him under the spell of hypnosis, instructing Jago to remember he was ordered to forget.

Jago recalls and tells The Doctor about the cab driver. Upon hearing the name Emma Buller, Jago pulls out a glove he found in the cellar, with the initials EB on it. The Doctor asks to see the cellar.

Chang, carrying Sin, and his master ride in a cab. He tells his master they are searching a new area, as they do each night, seeking the Time Cabinet. He promises his master two girls on the next night to help him recover.

The Doctor finds a larger spider, as big as his hand. He mutters about genetic enhancement. They discuss what runs under the table.

Leela horrifies Litefoot by eating the food with her hands, not using utensils, but joins her, not wanting to offend her.

In the cab, Chang’s master has a device that begins to glow. He says that they have arrived, what they seek is in one of the nearby dwellings. They exit the cab and track it down. He instructs Chang to get it, and Chang insists that his master return to his abode to rest.

The Doctor and Jago search the cellar, looking for a secret entrance. A hologram of a masked/hooded face in chains appears and Jago faints away.

After dinner, Litefoot looks out the window, wondering what is taking The Doctor so long. He sees a China man duck behind a bush and grabs his gun, intent on confronting the voyeur.

Jago recovers and The Doctor calms him down. They see a shadow moving, and The Doctor follows, going to the back of the stage. As he climbs the stairs backstage, Chang’s master throws a prop on him, knocking down the flight. The Doctor recovers and pursues (slowly, it’s not a running scene. Am I watching Doctor Who?) They move through the various catwalks and other scaffold areas of the theatre. Chang’s master swings on a rope across the area above the stage, then comes behind The Doctor and shoves him off the catwalk.

The Doctor catches some of the hanging curtains, dangling from it.

Jago comes to investigate and is knocked down by Chang’s master. The Doctor makes it back down safely and he and Jago return to the cellar. The Doctor gives up the chase, as the man has disappeared – he says it’s time to think and have supper.

Litefoot searches the grounds, but finds nobody and returns to the house. In the dining room, Leela is watching out the window. She hears Litefoot enter and start to say there’s nothing, but suddenly he grunts and there’s the thunk of his body hitting the floor.

The door to the dining area opens and Mr Sin menacingly enters, knife in hand.

I have to complain that Leela was handled quite the usual female companion way. She hears Litefoot be attacked and stands there, “Professor, are you ok?” This is Leela, warrior of the Sevateem. She’d be ready, weapon in hand, or at least hiding to pounce with surprise!

For shame, Robert Holmes (writer of the serial.)

Episode 3:

Leela grabs the carving knife and throws it, hitting Mr Sin directly in the throat. The doll stops a moment or two, then continues walking towards her.

Chang looms over Litefoot, inspecting the old man, taking his pistol. He hears whistling and slips outside, secreting himself in the bushes as The Doctor approaches, whistling what seems to be “Whistle While You Work”.

Leela jumps on the table and leaps through the window to escape. The Doctor hears this and ducks, just as Chang fires on him. He runs over to hide with Leela. They trade notes, and The Doctor tells her to wait, as he slips back inside.

Chang recalls Sin and hustles out to the waiting cab, dashing in. Leela sees this and gives chase, hopping on the back of the cab.

The Doctor comes out the front door and yells after her, but it’s to no avail. He returns back inside to tend to Litefoot. They try to figure what the Chinamen were after and Litefoot talks about his puzzle box – a cabinet-sized box brought back from China.

The Doctor looks at it, while Litefoot says there’s no way to open it, claiming a man once spent a week searching it for hidden springs.

Fused molecules,” The Doctor says. He then realises that the box is of Earth origin, which amazes him that such technology could exist there and then. The Doctor begins going on about Weng-Chiang, but stops to hope “that girl, Leela, isn’t in any danger.”

Leela moves into the basement of the theatre. Ahead of her, Chang slips down into the secret door under the basement. She enters, and hears voices coming from below.

Chang and his master argue over the failure to retrieve the cabinet. While they argue, Chang strikes the gong and his master opens a sliding door. Chang’s master places a large piece of meat out for the giant rat to eat.

Chang promises that the next night his brothers will take the cabinet. Chang’s master grows weak and sends him to bring two girls to replenish him.

Later that night/early in the morning, Litefoot enters the dining room, asking if The Doctor has slept; he says it is for tortoises. The Doctor has been drawing a map on the tablecloth, trying to figure out how to get to the lair below the palace theatre.

Litefoot gives him a large Chinese gun and he asks the professor for a small boat.

Leela is outside (and the sun is rising), hiding behind a wall, as a cab pulls up to a door. A woman disembarks, paying the cabbie. Chang scares the woman, who is obviously a woman of the night. She says she’s not interested in any business, but wants to get to sleep for a few hours. Chang uses his flashing eyes to hypnotise her into coming with him.

Leela, on the other side of the wall, follows as Chang takes her away. Chang brings her back to his dressing room at the theatre and instructs her to await his return.

Leela hides in the theatre, almost being caught by Chang. He is distracted by the cleaning ladies in the auditorium laughing. He goes in and spies one younger, pretty one.

Leela slips into Chang’s dressing room and sees the woman, entranced. She identifies it as “the spell of the shaman,” and then hears a giggle. She opens a cabinet and looks in.

Chang hypnotises the cleaning girl and then goes to his room to fetch the prostitute. However, unbeknownst to him, Leela has swapped places with the girl. He drags her and the cleaning girl with him.

The Doctor and Litefoot sit in a boat, approaching the sewer/fleet. Litefoot warns him that the gun hasn’t been fired in decades and may well explode. The Doctor seems to not be worried about this.

Chang instructs the two girls they will obey the orders of his master, Weng-Chiang. Weng-Chiang inspects the two women, complaining that Leela has “muscles like a horse.”

Again Chang and Weng-Chiang argue. Chang says he has taken many risks for his master, but Weng-Chiang dismisses him. He places the cleaning girl in the “distillation chamber” and tells Leela he won’t be keeping her long.

The Doctor enters the sewers, telling Litefoot to wait two hours. “If I’m still here at high tide… don’t bother.”

Weng-Chiang activates the distillation chamber and the girl is enveloped by a strange energy. Leela attacks Weng-Chiang while he is distracted. She shuts off the machine but the girl seems almost drained of life.

Weng-Chiang grabs an energy blaster and fires at Leela as she tries to scale the ladder. Leela jumps off and hides behind his workstation. Weng-Chiang is weak and crawls and staggers after her, but she slips under the grate and enters the sewer tunnel.

Weng-Chiang tolls the gong, summoning the giant rat and shuts the sliding door so she cannot come back in.

Leela runs down the tunnel, fleeing whatever is pursuing her.

The Doctor stops, hearing the sounds of the creatures.

At Litefoot’s house, two Chinamen arrive with laundry. They take in the new and bring out the old, placing it on their cart and hurrying off.

In the Palace Theatre, the prostitute has recovered and comes downstairs. Casey encounters her and says she needs to leave. She struggles with him and Jago comes over, wondering what’s happened. She sees the poster with Chang’s face and panics, yelling, “It was him! It was him!”

Jago tells Casey that he’s assisting a very important man investigating the disappearances, that he’s watching, keeping an eye out.

Around the corner, Chang overhears this conversation.

Seperately, The Doctor and Leela move through the tunnels. The giant rat is seen, and it seems to be pursuing Leela.

Weng-Chiang chastises Chang yet again, saying his constant failures have endangered everything. He dismisses him, saying he is unworthy. Weng-Chiang grows ever weaker, and pulls a lever on some device. There is the same energy nimbus that enveloped the cleaning girl and it seems to feed Weng-Chiang (fighting whatever malady he is suffering.)

Leela runs from the giant rat.

The Doctor sets his lantern on a hook, hearing the roars of the rat. He readies the gun. Leela runs, splashing through the tunnel, approaching The Doctor, but slips and falls (of course) and the rat grabs her by the foot. The Doctor watches in horror… and the credits roll.

That’s a great cliffhanger and a great one to leave you on. We’ll see you Friday. I’m rather enjoying this, even with the silly bits.  

Advertisements