purplecat: The Tardis against the spiralling clock face effect of the Capaldi opening credits. (Doctor Who)
[personal profile] purplecat
Tame Layman had sufficiently fond memories of The Talons of Weng Chiang that the Teenager was summoned to watch it with us. She indulged us, but I don't think she was really sold on it. She quite liked Leela and could take or leave the rest.

She prefers The Avengers, I think, which is possibly fair enough.

It is hard to say anything particularly novel about The Talons of Weng Chiang unless, I suppose, one wants to take vehemently against it. It clearly benefits from the flair the BBC of the 1970s had for costume drama. The characters of Jago and Litefoot are a delight and work extremely well together - Tame Layman was very excited to learn they have a Big Finish series, so I suppose that's his birthday taken care of. The dialogue is, in general, great. The giant rat is a bit rubbish. There is yellow face.

I suppose the Teenager's failure to get really engaged is indicative that this is, perhaps, more an episode of its time than one might think. I don't think she was particularly off-put by the yellow face, despite being the tumblr generation, but we had forewarned her of it. I think the tropes of gaslit Victorian streets are less prevalent than when I was growing up, and therefore a lot of the episode lacked much resonance for her. So she was not terribly impressed by the comparatively lavish Victorian sets, and while she liked Leela she did not find her particularly revolutionary. Too many of the idea implicit in the dialogue had to be explained.

Also, let's face it, like so many six-parters Talons of Weng-Chiang would benefit from a certain amount of trimming. I think it tries pretty hard not simply pad out a couple of episodes with the gradual reveal that Chang is in fact working for Magnus Greel, but a lot of that reveal happens as the Doctor, Leela, Jago and Litefoot variously troop back and forth between the theatre, Litefoot's house and Greel's somewhat interchangeable underground lairs.

Tame Layman and I had a lot of fun watching Talons and felt we were reminded what a great companion Leela was, but the Teenager's relative indifference makes me think that this is not a classic with real staying power. It is a bit too long for the material to sustain, it relies a little too much on tropes from stories that are no longer in vogue, and Leela (out of context) is not as refreshing and different as she appears to older eyes.


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