Doctor Who: The Talons of Weng-Chiang (Story #91)

doctor who the talons of weng-chiang story 91 tom baker
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 6/10

Fun story

Unfortunately racist

doctor who the talons of weng chiang tom baker leela louise jameson sherlock holmes

I think we’ve uncovered a mystery?!?!

The Doctor (Tom Baker) and Leela (Louise Jameson) go to Victorian London and decide to investigate a series of murders.  The investigation leads Leela and the Doctor to a performer named Li H’sen Chang (John Bennett).  When the Doctor learns that the threat is extraterrestrial, he and Leela set out to stop an interplanetary threat from a man named Magnus Greel (Michael Spice).

Doctor Who:  The Talons of Weng-Chiang was the final story arc in the fourteenth season of Doctor Who.  It was a six part serial and aired from February 26, 1977 to April 2, 1977.  The story follows Doctor Who:  The Robots of Death, and it has been collected in The Tom Baker Years collection as Story #91.

doctor who the talons of weng chiang li hsen chang john bennett stereotype

Nope…no stereotypes here…

Doctor Who:  The Talons of Weng-Chiang is if nothing else, memorable. It is often listed as one of the best episodes by fans.  It feels a little different than most Doctor Who episodes in that the Doctor and Leela make a conscious attempt to fit in to the time to which they are transported (though badly).  The fun is that Leela and the Doctor adopt a Sherlock Holmes style of investigation with the Doctor even ditching his signature clothing for classic Sherlock Holmes guise.  It is this nice change up for the series that leads the episode to a bigger and different feel.

In addition to the complete change up in styles, Leela is in line to be “properly educated” in the ways civilized man.  The attempt to train her in this episode (and through out her storyline, leads to kind of an Eliza Doolittle story that really feels appropriate in this storyline since it is set in a similar time period as Pygmalion (or My Fair Lady if you’d like).  Leela was an interesting and different companion in her savageness, and it works well in this storyline.

doctor who the talons of weng chiang mr sin magnus greel michael spice deep roy

I want a return of Weng-Chiang in the new Doctor Who (don’t see that happening)

The episode is also considered one of the more controversial episodes.  The portrayals of the Chinese in the story are very, very stereotyped and the main villain Li H’sen Chang is played by a white man John Bennett who previous played a villainous military leader in Doctor Who:  Invasion of the Dinosaurs.  It is an unfortunate side note to the story that was a bit better than most stories.

There is a lot of fun in this episode and if feels very much like a classic Doctor Who in both visuals and story.  Deep Roy played the sinister Mr. Sin who was creepy and over the top.  There were some typical goofy effects near the end of serial, and the giant rats in the sewers of course were fun.  If you get a chance, check out Doctor Who:  The Talons of Weng-Chiang…it is a good one.  Doctor Who:  The Talons of Weng-Chiang was followed by Doctor Who:  Horror of Fang Rock.

Preceded By:

Doctor Who:  The Robots of Death (Story #90)

Followed By:

Doctor Who:  Horror of Fang Rock (Story #92)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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