My final story in the regular 50 for 50 Countdown rotation is an acknowledged classic, perhaps the foremost example of the pseudo-Historical ever done in the series, and the fitting pinnacle of the greatest era (in the eyes of the author) Doctor Who ever had, that of the Philip Hinchcliffe/Robert Holmes production team which ostensibly ran for seasons 12-14. It was also their last.
It was The Talons of Weng-Chiang.
Both lovingly gothic and Victorian given the setting, with Tom Baker eschewing the scarf for a deerstalker of Sherlockian dress-sense and Leela as his ‘Fair Lady,’ Talons is a lovingly concocted mixture directed by long-time stalwart David Maloney (his final Doctor Who as director) and coming from the mind of Robert Holmes that bears all of his trademark story elements.
The ‘double-act’ of Jago and Lightfoot was so well-received that they were considered for a spin-off of their own (a wish granted 30+ years later on audio via Big Finish).
It’s hardly a controversial choice to have Talons rated this high in our poll as it’s been a fan favorite for many years for good reason. Talons was voted the best Doctor Who story ever in the 2003 Outpost Gallifrey poll to mark the series’ 40th anniversary, narrowly beating The Caves of Androzani. A 2009 DWM poll rated the story second, just as we are here. If you’re a fan whose horizons don’t reach back past 2005 but are curious for a way in, The Talons of Weng-Chiang is an outstanding way to start.
Alan’s #2 — The Invasion
Andy’s #2 — Utopia, The Sound of Drums, and Last of the Time Lords
Steve’s #2 — Horror of Fang Rock
It all comes down to this… the final story in our Countdown which will be revealed next week.