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After the rather dull Circus Of Doom, it's refreshing to hear Tom Baker wake up again and deliver a performance worthy of the Fourth Doctor. This latest installment of the Hornet's Nest series gets rather dark, horrific and incredibly goulish too. Not only that, but Tommy B uses the phrase "red hot slober"! What's not to like?
A Sting In The Tale does, however, have its lighter moments. Notably at the start were we hear The Doctor sing and reappropriate Good King Wenceslas - a moment that really does remind you that Tom Baker is not of this Earth. The actor delights in the script, relishing words like the aforementioned "slober" and "slavering" - the latter evoking Richard Burton's performance on Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War Of The Worlds.
Baker positively drools his way through having a "hot toddy" with some nuns and one did wonder if the "sting" in this "tale" would be an erotic dalliance with one of the Sisters. Sadly, this was not to be. (Maybe for another adventure though, eh?) Instead his attentions are turned to mesmerising a pig. No, really...
As I said the story takes a beastly turn in the shape of a battle between the Sisters and the slavering, menacing dogs - a fight straight out of the pages of Lord of the Rings. It's incredibly well portrayed and extremely graphic in its description of the various contretants.
A Sting In The Tale comes to a clattering climax and leaves with a cliffhanger worthy of Doctor Who (thankfully, not long to wait 'til I hear the resolution). With Baker back in form, a top tale to boot and numerous references to the show - including Krynoids, Zygons, Kraal and even the Pescatons to name but however many that was - the penultimate episode sets up the finale in some style.
Blogtor Rating 8/10