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27 May 2014

Will Brooks’ 50 Year Diary - watching Doctor Who one episode a day from the very start... 

Day 512: The Stones of Blood, Episode Four

Dear diary,

Nope. I’m still not really any wiser about some of the things which left me confused during yesterday’s episode. Mostly, I think that my confusion stems from the fact that I’m not entirely sure about the sequence of events which took place prior to this story, and led to the Hyperspace ship hunting Cessair of Diplos… but I know enough for the story to hang together for me. Alongside all of that, I’ve enjoyed Tom Baker being given the opportunity to showboat for a while during the ‘trial’ sequences, so I’m willing to overlook a few of the flaws.

What’s struck me the most about The Stones of Blood this time around is how much the story really does seem to change style right down the middle. From the first half of the story, you’d expect to be in for something right out of the Hinchcliffe years, with a remote location, a horror vibe, some ancient evil reawakening… it seems to be a style of Doctor Who which is less present in recent seasons. Then, we shift up to the spaceship, and we’re in an entirely different kin of story. As if to underline this point, they even take one of the cast and paint her silver as if to say ‘we’re in space now!’

I can’t recall noticing such an abrupt shift in style the last time I watched this story, and it certainly didn’t ham my thoughts about the tale. This time around, I’m not sure that I’ve enjoyed it as much as I remembered doing so before (Indeed, while I’ve always cited The Stones of Blood as being my favourite story from the Key to Time season, it’s been pipped to the post this time by The Ribos Operation, which achieved an overall score of 6.5/10, compared to this story’s 6.25/10), but I think I may still be suffering a little from the fatigue which so plagued The Pirate Planet.

Perhaps more importantly, though, this is the 100th Doctor Who story! As ever, my figures are a little out because I did Farewell, Great Macedon way back between Seasons One and Two, and I revisited The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear when they were returned late last year. That said, the number ‘100’ seems at once too many and too few stories. It seems like an age since An Unearthly Child (the programme celebrated its 15th anniversary between this episode and tomorrow’s), and the show has changed an awful lot in that time. Perhaps it’s inevitable that I’d start to be feeling a little bit of fatigue by this time?

It’s also worth noting that we’re almost at the stage where Tom Baker will take over the crown of being the ‘longest serving’ Doctor. It’s true that I’ve felt a little weary about all of the Doctors at some stage (most notably during Seasons Two, Six, and Nine), and so perhaps it was inevitable that I’d start to struggle a bit this far into the Baker era? In the same way that the thought of Season Eleven and breath of fresh air was a real ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ during some of the Pertwee years, I think I’m starting to long for Season Eighteen to arrive.

That said, we’re entering slightly more uncharted territory with the second half of this season. While I’ve seen all of the Key to Time stories before, I can remember next-to-nothing about the three after this one. I’m looking forward to seeing if any of them can shake up my opinions at all. Certainly, with The Ribos Operation already taking the top spot after seven years since my first viewing, anything could happen!

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