There’s no-one on the planet that doesn’t like the classic Doctor Who story the Talons of Weng Chiang. It saw the fourth Doctor and Leela face a mad man from the future who was trapped in Victorian London, kidnapping young women to drain their life forces while searching for his time cabinet. This was the giant rat story and the only one where Leela screamed as the aforementioned rat tried to eat her. It featured two characters, Professor Litefoot, the typical English gentleman and theatre owner Henry Jago. Both made such an impact, there was talk of a spin-off series which never materialized until Big Finish brought them back to life. They are about to enter a fourth series of adventures, but at the climax of the third they ended up aboard the Tardis along side the sixth Doctor.
And in this story they end up on Venus in the future where Earth is a dead rock. They are captured and placed in a zoo of sorts aboard a floating city run by a female majority. The Doctor discovers the animal life of Venus is growing as new species keep appearing. There’s also a nice throwback to Dinosaurs on a Spaceship where a harmless Shanghorn, a herbivore, is killed by the females and the normally brusque sixth Doctor is outraged at such an act, just as the eleventh was at the murder of the triceratops in the Dinosuars episode. He might change his face but the Doctor’s morals never change.
Anyway, on with the plot, A scientist has been murdered which forms the central mystery. Jago and Litefoot are spot on as if they had been lifted straight from their Weng Chiang story. It expands their characters, showing Litefoot’s medical knowledge when performing an autopsy. Jago is forced to perform for the Queen to keep living but what is the Queen really up to? Their reactions to travelling in the Tardis and meeting dominant females are perfect, Victorian attitude. Intelligent females are a mystery to them, giving the social background they come from. They are perfect foils for the Colin Baker incarnation and as this is the first part of a double adventure, I for one would love to see them return for a longer stint. And in this fiftieth anniversary year, it’s nice to see the past being embraced so lovingly. Great stuff.