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Doctor Who and the Image of the Fendahl, by Terrance Dicks

Doctor Who and the Image of the Fendahl, by Terrance Dicks

The Edwardian Cricketer Media Review

Author: EdwardianCricketer/Saturday, May 20, 2017/Categories: Blog, Book Review

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Doctor Who and the Image of the Fendahl, by Terrance Dicks, Target, 1979.
Number 34 in the Doctor Who Library. 109 pages, paperback. Cover art by John Geary.
Original script by Chris Boucher, BBC, 1977.

This adventure features the Fourth Doctor and Leela.

About 12 million years ago there was a planet between Mars and Jupiter which was home to the Fendahl. The Fendahl existed by consuming the very life energy of other beings and could consume entire worlds. The Time Lords, fearing the Fendahl would spread, destroyed their world and erased all knowledge of them. But something escaped.

Scientists Adam Colby, Thea Ransome, Dr. Fendleman, and Max Stael discover what appears to be a 12 million year old human skull, which seems unlikely given mankind’s evolutionary history. Fendleman has created a Time Scanner which enable him to see mankind’s ancestor as it was then. When he activates it, Ransome starts to feel strange, a hiker is killed in the woods that surround the Priory where the research is being conducted, and the TARDIS is knocked out of control. Unknown to anyone, the skull is absorbing the energy of the Time Scanner.

The Doctor and Leela land near Fetchborough, the village where Fetch Priory is located and set out to find the Time Scanner before it can cause a temporal implosion and destroy the earth.

Things start to go awry for the scientists when Colby discovers the dead hiker and Fendleman convinces him to keep it quiet. Fendleman employs a security team to maintain security of the Priory. Their leader runs off Mrs. Tyler, cook for the scientists and local white witch. He is later consumed by the Fendahl. It’s at this point that Colby decides to call the police but can’t because the lines are dead. Ransome, in what seems to be a breakdown, claims responsibility.

Stael has been studying witchcraft and is bent on world domination. He has gathered 12 of the 13 required members for the coven to summon the power for his purpose. It seems Ransome is the unknowing number 13. Stael takes Colby and Fendleman prisoner in the basement where he has been practicing rites.

The Doctor and Leela, with Mrs. Tyler and her grandson, Jack, free Colby but Stael has killed Fendleman. Stael realizes too late that he’s been used, just as Fendleman had tried to tell him. As Ransome is transformed into some kind of priestess, she begins changing the remaining members of the coven into Fendahleen. It seems the Fendahl are a Gestalt creature and require 12 to become one strong entity.

The Doctor rewires the Time Scanner and is able to put the skull in lead lined box. Jack and Mrs. Tyler make it to her house and the Doctor and Leela make it to the TARDIS as the Priory implodes. The Doctor and Leela leave with the skull in its box as it is his intent to drop it into a supernova.

I’ve always liked this story both onscreen and in print. Though this may be one of Dicks’ lesser detailed efforts, he writes enough to keep the reader interested. He makes up for lack of painting a vivid picture (minimal descriptions of characters and settings) by adding background to Stael, a character whose motivation is not explained in the televised story. This is a standard written version of good Doctor Who story. Not one of the best but still a good story.

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