Our son is full of theories about where our heroes will find the third segment of the Key to Time. He thinks it could be underground, or it could be a person, or it could be one of the very small rocks in the stone circle around which this adventure is based, or it could be the really strange stones that glow when blood is poured on them and then glide around in the dark somehow killing people, or the Key segment could be some of the dirt on one of the rocks. His brain’s working overtime.
“The Stones of Blood” is the debut Doctor Who story written by David Fisher, who’d contribute a few more adventures over the next few years, and the only Who adventure directed by Darrol Blake. It’s a story that taps into that seventies interest-slash-obsession with stone circles, as seen in the nearly-contemporary serials Children of the Stones and Sky, which we’ve enjoyed for the blog already. Well, I enjoyed them; they creeped our kid out a bit.
(Also, I should note that this isn’t a very original observation. Miles and Wood’s About Time series of books of Who analysis kind of hits a low note with the authors’ often very silly and wrongheaded points about season sixteen, but they were quite right to connect “Blood” with these serials. Even if they’re breathtakingly silly and wrongheaded about the brilliant Children, the humorless clods.)
I remember when I was a teen seeing this story for the first time and being completely blindsided by some of the imagery and the downright bizarre turn the plot will take in the second half, but the villain’s appearance in the garish bird-like costume of the Callieach was the real surprise. I recall really thinking that was creepy as heck, and even though the villain, who is played by Susan Engel, doesn’t wear it for very long, it remained with me and somehow became my brain’s dominant visual from this story. Interestingly, Honor Blackman was offered the role of the villain but turned it down. We’d have to wait another eight years for her to appear as a guest star in the show.