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"The Talons of Weng-Chiang" is the sixth story of the fourteenth season of the original Doctor Who, and was first broadcast in the spring of 1977. As was usually the case in the 1970s, the concluding story of the season was in six parts, instead of four. As a six part story, it had a total running time of 150 minutes. It starred Tom Baker as the Fourth Doctor and Louise Jameson as companion Leela. It featured Michael Spice and William Bennett as villains Weng-Chiang and Li H'Sen Chang, Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxtor as comedic relief Henry Gordon Jago and Professor Litefoot, and Deep Roy as a demonic ventriloquist dummy that turns out to be a pig/android combination.

The Doctor and Leela find themselves in Victorian London, where young women are disappearing. When some Chinese tong members are seen in the middle of a crime, the Doctor grows suspicious of Li H'Sen Chang, a hypnotist and stage magician at a theater owned by Henry Gordon Jago, a blustery showman. He also meets police forensic expert Professor Litefoot. His investigation leads him to uncover that Li H'Sen Chang is working for "Weng Chiang" an ancient Chinese god who is actually a time traveller from the 51st century. The Doctor and Leela foil Weng Chiang's plans and after a short break for muffins, they head off into space and time.

I had heard before watching this story that it had some elements that were widely considered to be racist. When I started watching it, my fears of it being racist were relieved because I decided it was too terrible to be racist. I considered it to be such an incompetent, poorly executed and uncharacteristic story that the fact that it had a stereotyped Chinese character (played by a white man), who was orchestrating the kidnapping of white women barely registered. But then I did some research and found that there are people who actually think this is a good story, and (I know not why) one of the best Doctor Who stories.

This story does have its redeeming qualities. The comedic interplay of Lightfoot and Jago is funny, the fish out of water bits with the warrior woman Leela in Victorian London are also funny, and the Doctor's speech about marching with the Filipino Army on Reykjavik in the 51st century gives some interesting scale to the story. But I think it is an uncharacteristic Doctor Who story because there is no real dramatic conflict. Many Doctor Who episodes use science-fiction to underscore believable problems. The last two stories, "The Face of Evil", and "The Robots of Death", both showed conflicts between people and groups with believable motivation. Although there was a "villain" in both stories, the villain had motivations beyond "evulz". The Doctor's role is often to help the sides in the conflict come to some sort of understanding, or at least to attempt to do so. In this story, from the beginning, the Doctor's only motivation is to defeat a scenery chewing villain whose only motivation is destruction. While there have been Doctor Who stories that are basically adventures where the Doctor must defeat a simplistic villain, I feel that those adventures are at best "good stories", since they can't involve much character development or dramatic tension. But since this story adds in some casual racism, a demonic pigrobot dummy, meaningless dialog ("sleep is for tortoises!") and some terrible special effects, I can't see why anyone could see it as good, let alone "great".

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