Production Code: 4X
1 - 29/10/1977 18:10
2 - 05/11/1977 18:10
3 - 12/11/1977 18:05
4 - 19/11/1977 18:10
An anachronistic twelve-million-year-old human skull has been discovered by archaeologists and is now being used by Professor Fendelman in his time scanner experiments at Fetch Priory in contemporary England. The skull is actually an artifact of the Fendahl, an ancient creature that feeds on the life force of others.
Drawn by the operation of the scanner, the Doctor and Leela arrive as the experiments reach a peak. The skull is exerting an influence over the mind of Thea Ransome, one of the scientists in Fendelman's team, and glowing with power each time the scanner is activated. Thea is eventually transformed into the Fendahl core, and a group of acolytes assembled by Maximillian Stael - another of Fendelman's team, who is trying to harness the creature's power for his own ends - are converted into snake-like Fendahleen.
The Doctor shows the remaining scientist, Adam Colby, and two locals, Martha Tyler and her son Jack, how to defend themselves against the Fendahleen using rock salt. By activating the scanner once more, he triggers an implosion that destroys both the Priory and the Fendahl core.
Thea falls into a trance-like state as the scanner is activated. Outside, a large unseen creature approaches the Doctor through the woods, and he seems unable to move.
The Doctor escapes from the store room where he has been imprisoned and finds the skull, which starts to hum and glow with power. He is compelled to place his hand on it, at which point the power greatly intensifies. The Doctor writhes in pain.
As Thea begins her transformation into the Fendahl core in the Priory cellar, the Doctor, Leela, Jack and Martha meet in the corridors above. Suddenly they find that they are unable to move. Around the corner and towards them slides a huge Fendahleen.
Back in the TARDIS, the Doctor prepares to dump the skull in the vicinity of a star that is about to go supernova. He also plans to repair K9. Leela chides the Doctor for calling K9 'him' rather than 'it', something that he had earlier pulled her up on. The Doctor claims that he is allowed to do this as K9 is his dog. K9 nods in agreement.
Quatermass and the Pit (race memory, extra terrestrial origins of mankind).
Hamlet ('Alas, poor skull').
Mystery and Imagination ('The Curse of the Mummy').
Arthur C. Clarke's 'The Sentinel'.
The Tarot card imagery is drawn from Dr Terror's House of Horror and the mixture of science and supernatural echoes The Stone Tape, The Road and The Legend of Hell House.
Leela : "He came armed and silent."
The Doctor : "You must have been sent by providence."
Ted Moss : "No, I was sent by the council to cut the verges."
Leela : "Your council should choose its warriors more carefully."
The Doctor : "There are four thousand million people here on your planet, and if I'm right, within a year, there will just be one left alive. Just one."
Adam Colby : "What are you exactly, some sort of wandering armageddon pedler?"
Adam Colby : "Are you saying that about twelve million years ago, on a nameless planet which no longer exists, evolution went up a blind alley? Natural selection turned back on itself, and a creature evolved which prospered by absorbing the energy wavelengths of life itself? It ate life, all life, including that of its own kind?"
The Doctor : "Yes. In other words, the Fendahl. Then the Time Lords decided to destroy the entire planet, and hid the fact from posterity. They're not supposed to do that sort of thing, you know."
Adam Colby : [Colby announces that he has found a corpse. Fendelman asks what sort.] "A dead one. What other sort is there?"
Adam Colby : "You must think my head zips up at the back."
Fendelman : "The Doctor asked me if my name was real. Don't you see? Fendelman. Man of the Fendahl. Only for this moment have the generations of my fathers lived. I have been used. You have been used. Mankind has been used."
Thea : "I accept without reservation the results of your excellent potassium-argon test."
The TARDIS generates a low intensity telepathic field.
The Fendahl skull was found in Kenya in volcanic sediment. Thea Ransome's potassium-argon tests indicate it is 12 million years old (according to Colby, this is 8 million years older than it can conceivably be). However, the Fendahl was supposed to have been destroyed on the Fifth Planet, 107 million miles from Earth [a reasonable orbit for a planet between Mars and Jupiter].
The Time Lords destroyed the planet [forming the asteroid belt] and then hid its existence in a time loop to prevent any knowledge of the Fendahl leaking out. The Doctor knows the story as a myth from childhood and is terrified by it [it was one of the ghost stories told to him by the hermit: see State of Decay].
X-rays of the skull reveal the shape of a pentagram which Fendelman thinks is a form of 'neural relay'. The Doctor says that the skull must have come to Earth, taking in Mars on the way - which he describes as dead (see The Ice Warriors).
The Fendahl requires twelve Fendahleen and a core to form its gestalt. The Doctor discovers that 'sodium chloride obviously affects conductivity... and prevents control of localised disruption of osmotic pressures.' 'You mean, salt kills them?' asks Leela.
The Doctor notes this is probably the origin throwing salt over your shoulder. After causing the priory's implosion, the Doctor intends to cast the skull into a super-nova in the constellation of Canthares.
Fetch Priory, close to the village of Fetchborough, Lammas Eve [31 July].
K9 appears only briefly, in the opening and closing TARDIS scenes. Image of the Fendahl had been written before it was known that K9 would be joining the series on a regular basis.
This story had a working title of The Island of Fandor. (It didn't. This myth originated when Gordon Blows, then editor of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society magazine TARDIS, misheard the title of the story over the phone and reported it incorrectly.)
The Doctor says 'We're being dragged towards a relative continuum displacement zone' (his other explanation 'a hole in time' is more understandable).
In episode four the Doctor says that the Fendahl killed the hiker and Mitchell, but he cannot possibly know their occupations or names.
How does he get out of the locked cupboard in episode two?
Cast & Crew
The Doctor - Tom Baker
Leela - Louise Jameson
Adam Colby - Edward Arthur
David Mitchell - Derek Martin
Dr. Fendelman - Denis Lill
Hiker - Graham Simpson
Jack Tyler - Geoffrey Hinsliff
Martha Tyler - Daphne Heard
Maximillian Stael - Scott Fredericks
Ted Moss - Edward Evans
Thea Ransome - Wanda Ventham
Director - George Spenton-Foster