Retro ‘Doctor Who’ Reviews – Volume 3.6
One companion leaves, another arrives, a famous villain makes their debut and a colleague goes off the deep end. Let’s go.
The Green Death
To start the episode off we have the conclusion to the running joke about The Doctor wanting to visit a planet called Metebelis Three (otherwise known as the Blue Planet due to its blue sun). Exasperated by his frequent failed attempts to visit this potentially beautiful planet Jo Grant elects to skip the journey to join the Brigadier in investigating an oil company in the hope of meeting famed environmentalist Professor Clifford Jones. The oil plant and mine site has been home to strange occurrences including the executives acting like drones and miners being overcome by a strange ailment that covers them in a glowing green substance before dying.
While the Brig and Jo travel to the site The Doctor does manage a visit to the Blue Planet but finds that it isn’t the paradise that he anticipated. Instead he finds himself battling against monsters, hanging off cliffs and fighting for his life before promptly returning with a blue crystal in hand. He does eventually find his way to the oil plant where the Brig and Jo have formed an alliance with Prof. Clifford, who turns out to be a much younger than expected. The workers at the oil company are prevented them from accessing the mine.
This set of episodes is packed with great ideas. The arch enemy is revealed to be a powerful AI computer that, while not being a completely original concept at the time, is done very well for the era an the way the Doctor eventually defeats it is damn good writing. Action wise it’s a big episode with the Brig and his men pitched in combat against…giant maggots. Ok, they may not be the most exciting enemy of the Doctor but they are used to good effect. Most interestingly is the new relationship between Jo and Clifford. Jo Grant is smitten with the professor but her excessive clumsiness proves to be a barrier. When they do eventually come together at the end it is sudden but otherwise a well written story and when Jo elects to good-bye to The Doctor it is a touching moment. Jo Grant has been a great foil for The Doctor up until this point and this presents a satisfying conclusion to the character.
The Time Warrior
The eleventh season of Doctor Who introduced more than one figure who would go on to have a recurring part in the series. The monster of the week is the first appearance of the Sontarans, an alien race who hold hold a deeply embedded ideology dedicating their lives to war. Whilst their later stories focus more on the invasion schemes of the Sontaran army this serial features just one lone crash survivor named Linx who finds himself in Medieval Europe. Seeking to repair his craft he forms an alliance with the locals – they will shelter him in exchange of technologically advanced weaponry. In order to produce the components for his craft Linx abducts scientists from the modern era.
This attracts the attention of UNIT who have collected potential victims of the disappearances in one facility and sent The Doctor in under cover to try and find out what’s been happening. Whilst there he meets a young reporter named Sarah Jane Smith who has conned her way into the facility to conduct an investigation. Viewers of the show will be well aware that Sarah Jane not only stays on as The Doctor’s new companion but will be the longest serving, making an additional return during the 10th Doctor’s run and then in her own spin-off series. Right off the bat she holds her own, swapping banter with The Doctor and sneaking on board the TARDIS when The Doctor follows the abductions to their source.
Once there it becomes a strategic battle between The Doctor and Linx as they both have to contend with the superstitions of the time (The Doctor being believed to be a sorcerer) and seeking out allies to meet their goals. Both the Sontarans and Sarah Jane have found themselves in a particularly strong story to make their debut. Plenty of action and intrigue throughout and a new worthy foe that sets themselves apart from the other regulars such as the conniving Master and single-minded Daleks.
Invasion of the Dinosaurs
After their adventures in the Dark Ages The Doctor and Sarah Jane arrive back in London to find it deserted. They start exploring only to find that looters and rampant and UNIT has evacuated the entire city and instigated martial law due to the sudden appearance of dinosaurs tearing up the place. Although UNIT takes action against the beats they have little effect but The Doctor witnesses some disappearing into a time eddy.
The truth of the matter is that scientist Professor Whitaker is experimenting with time manipulation technology, aided by recurring character Capt. Mike Yates. Whitaker has an elaborate plan to instigate a new golden age for humanity. The plan is to bring dinosaurs back through time to spread chaos and wipe out the population while a select few hundred are kept safe underground under the belief that they are being transported to a new planet to inhabit (in reality Earth before the spread of the human race). His intent is to ‘reset’ the human race to a time with pollution and over-population. Yates is suffering a nervous breakdown after the events of The Green Death and has his loyalties torn, leaving him easily manipulated by Whitaker to sabotage The Doctor’s plans.
To say that the story is convoluted is an understatement. There’s many different parts to the plot and while some of the mystery is interesting too much of it occurs at once. We’ll still on the issue of where the dinosaurs came from when Sarah Jane wakes up on a space-ship seemingly on the way to another planet. By the time things start getting wrapped up the dinosaurs have taken a back seat to the conspiracy. It’s certainly a fun story with the animated dinosaurs tearing the place up being especially cool, but it feels as though it’s trying to do way to much.
Yates makes the episode a bit more interesting. He hasn’t been discussed much in these reviews as he didn’t seem to be much more than a soldier who happened to have a name and occasionally flirted with Jo Grant. His meltdown and turn to villainous ways marked him as more interesting than he originally appeared and it could be an interesting character arc if taken further. We also have the first look at the ‘Whomobile’. I’m not sure how I feel about this yet.